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RZA, pronounced Rizza, (born Robert Diggs, July 5, 1969 in Brownsville,
Brooklyn, New York, USA) is an American producer, rapper, de facto
leader of the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan and actor. He was also
a member of the group Gravediggaz. As well as producing almost all
of the Wu-Tang's albums, he has also produced many of their solo
and affiliate projects, as well as releasing a succession of solo
albums (two under the alter-ego Bobby Digital) and composing several
RZA is married with two children, Shallah Mohammed and Raqim.
His production technique has evolved significantly over the years.
Innovative techniques include the inclusion of sped-up soul samples
in some of his beats, an influence on successful producers such
as Kanye West and Just Blaze, use of high-pitched cinematic strings,
and an avant garde, experimental approach which has inspired many
artists in the genre of underground rap. He is responsible for the
Wu-Tang Clan's trademark sound, providing all the beats for the
group's early albums and many of the members' most respected solo
After an impoverished childhood in a family of 11 children, RZA began
his career in hip hop in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a member
of the trio Force Of The Imperial Master (which subsequently became
known as the All in Together Now Crew after they had a successful
underground single of that name) with future Wu-Tang members, and
his cousins, GZA (then known as the Genius) and Ol' Dirty Bastard
(then known, respectively, as Ason Unique, the Specialist, and the
Professor). Once this acclaimed local band dissolved, both he &
GZA attempted to kick start solo careers. With the help of GZA's friend
Melquan (then owner of Jamaica Records) they both secured single deals
with album options at successful labels, GZA going to Cold Chillin
and RZA to Tommy Boy. GZA ultimately released the Words from the Genius
album, but RZA's stint at Tommy Boy ended with only the EP "Ooh
I Love You Rakeem" to show for it when he went to jail soon after
its release. GZA's album flopped, and the two cousins became determined
to conquer the hip hop industry on their own terms.
From this determination came the Wu-Tang Clan, formed with Ol'
Dirty Bastard as well as with 6 others. With the Clan, Prince Rakeem
started going by the name RZA (pronounced "the rizza"
and derived from the word "Razor", his graffiti tag).
After the singles Protect Ya Neck and Method Man, both driven by
raucous RZA-produced beats, made the group into underground sensations,
the group released their debut LP Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.
The album eventually went platinum, and was heralded by hip-hop
fans as a classic. Enter the Wu-Tang revolutionized hip hop and
helped bring the East Coast back into the spotlight after Dr. Dre's
G-funk had come to dominate the rap scene, in large part thanks
to RZA's lean, gritty and very distinctive production style.
As each of the group's members embarked on solo careers, RZA continued
to produce nearly everything Wu-Tang related during the period 1994-1997,
producing in both the "hip hop producer" sense (composing
and arranging the instrumental tracks) and in the wider "music
producer" sense (overseeing and directing the creative process
as well as devising song concepts and structure). Indeed, RZA's
rule over the Clan at this time is described by himself in 2004's
Wu-Tang Manual book as "like a dictatorship". His sound
was to develop from the raw, minimalist sounds of Method Man's Tical
and Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return to the 36 Chambers to more cinematic
and expansive soundscapes driven by string sections or thick layers
of synthesizer on Ghostface Killah's Ironman, GZA's Liquid Swords
and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. All of the group's albums
during the period from 1994 to 1996 are highly regarded by critics
and hip hop enthusiasts. During this time, RZA also took part in
the Gravediggaz, an off-and-on rap supergroup including Frukwan
of Stetsasonic, Poetic of The Brothers Grym, and Prince Paul who
released the critically acclaimed album 6 Feet Deep in 1994. As
part of the Gravediggaz, he went by the name RZArecta. The South
Park Coalition, alongside the likes of the K-Rino and Ganksta N.I.P.,
are regarded as one of the originators of the Horrorcore genre of
rap. RZA is associated with The Nation of Gods and Earths.
The success of Wu-Tang Forever, which hit number one on the charts
after selling 600,000 in its first week, also marked the end of
RZA's "five year plan"; at the group's inception, he promised
the group if he had total dictatorial control of the Wu-Tang empire,
it would conquer the hip hop world within five years. After Forever's
success, RZA ceased to oversee all aspects of Wu-Tang product as
he had previously, delegating much of his existing role to associates
such as Oli "Power" Grant and his brother Mitchell "Divine"
Diggs, and giving each Clan member more individual control. This
move was designed to enable the Wu-Tang empire to expand further
and further into the fabric of the hip hop industry, and in accordance
with this an extremely large amount of Wu-Tang music was to be released
over the next two years. This had already to some extent begun on
Wu-Tang Forever, which for the first time featured RZA delegating
a small number of beatmaking duties to other producers in the Wu-Tang
camp, such as his proteges True Master and 4th Disciple (known as
the Wu-Elements) and Clan member Inspectah Deck.
During the 1997-2000 period RZA ceased to produce every Wu-Tang
solo album as he had done previously, but continued to contribute
usually one or two beats on average to each record as well as receiving
an Executive Producer credit. He also released his first solo effort
titled RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo in 1998 (see 1998 in music).
This was an experimental concept album featuring him rapping as
his hedonistic, fun-loving alter-ego Bobby Digital and showcasing
a unique keyboard-driven sound RZA called "digital orchestra",
receiving mostly positive reviews. He also reformed with the Gravediggaz
for the album The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel, a calmer and
more mature album than their horrorcore-oriented debut.
After helming another Wu-Tang group album titled The W (his production
on which received much praise) and providing narration to a Clan
greatest hits album titled RZA Hits, RZA released another Bobby
Digital album, 2001's Digital Bullet. Digital Bullet was an attempt
to develop Bobby Digital further, and the album followed a loose
story arc which saw the character becoming more "enlightened"
and more disillusioned with hedonism as the album went on.
In 1999 the RZA moved into composing film scores. His first work,
Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), earned
praise; he also had brief cameo in the film itself. The experience
was positive and, as he noted during an interview on National Public
Radio's Fresh Air, the work with traditional musicians gave him
the desire to learn how to read and write music.
The critical success of the Ghost Dog soundtrack led to further
work. The RZA created and produced the original music for Quentin
Tarantino's Kill Bill series, as well as Blade: Trinity, and Soul
Plane. RZA also appeared alongside fellow Wu-Tang member GZA in
one segment of Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes opposite Bill Murray.
He and the GZA have also made several appearances on Chappelle's
Show, in one appearance pitching a financial services firm called
His first solo album as simply the RZA, Birth of a Prince, was
released in 2003 (see 2003 in music) and spawned the single We Pop.
The album itself featured a mix of lighthearted Bobby Digital tracks
and more lyrically highbrow RZA tracks. In 2003 he also released
an album of collaborations with international rap and R&B musicians
(including the UK's Skinnyman, France's Saïan Supa Crew and
Germany's Xavier Naidoo) entitled The World According to RZA, which
was successful in many countries, despite not being sold in the
In 2005, RZA served as the Artist in Residence for the LA Film
Festival and released the long-gestating book Wu-Tang Manual, an
in-depth discussion of the Wu-Tang's virtues, vices and philosophies.
RZA continued to star and score movies such as Derailed, Blood of
a Champion and Miami Vice. Currently he is working with Raekwon
and Method Man on both of their highly-anticipated albums, most
of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II and four songs from 4:21...The Day
After. He has also recorded with the Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist
John Frusciante and is set to contribute to Cannibal Ox's upcoming
album, along with Pete Rock and El-P.
Talks are on between System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian and
RZA regaring a collaboration between the two artists. GZA is also
involved in the project and has stated so in an interview.
During the Enter the Wu-Tang period, RZA's production consisted
mainly of stripped-down, frenetic piano loops and finger-snaps with
heavy bass and drums, though he experimented with more melodic sounds
on the album's "Method Man" and "C.R.E.A.M."
He also began incorporating skits consisting of clips of old kung
The next two solo albums from the Wu, Method Man's Tical and Ol'
Dirty Bastard's Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, featured
versions of the same style of production from the RZA; the former
delved somewhat into old soul records and became somewhat bouncy
rather than quite as gritty, while the latter was at times even
more simplistic than the group's debut.
On Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and GZA's Liquid Swords, RZA
would immerse his beats in dark, sinister soul sampling, pioneering
the technique of speeding up or slowing down samples to fit the
beat that artists such as Kanye West and Just Blaze would later
use. He also fully realized the potential of the skit, using old
kung fu clips to string the Cuban Linx album together into a loose
Subsequent Wu group albums saw RZA become even more experimental,
usually with soul samples as well as the layers added his beats.
Around 1997 he began tutoring 4th Disciple, True Master and Mathematics
in production. The early-mid 2000's have seen him move more toward
smoother and more tightly-assembled productions, where the melody,
drums, bass and other elements play more off each other than they
previously had in his beats.
His Bobby Digital albums introduced tweaked-out new age elements
to his sound; these have incorporated themselves more fully into
his beats on newer albums such as Method Man's 4:21...The Day After.
Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah (Supreme Alphabet for "RZA")
RZArecta (from resurrector - waking up the mentally dead)
In The News:
| Mon, 01 Apr 2013 23:46:45 GMT Mon, 01 Apr 2013 18:22:55 GMT
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 09:28:14 GMT
RZA Responds To Singer's LawsuitHipHopBlog.com (blog)Superproducer RZA has responded to Dutch singer Thea Van Seijen lawsuit over royalties. The singer-songwriter claims that she collaborated as a co-writer and performer on 14 songs with the Wu-Tang Clan leader and was not compensated according to ...and more »
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 03:41:01 GMT
RZA Vows To Fight Dutch Singer Over RoyaltiesAllHipHop(AllHipHop News) RZA is prepared to fight a Dutch singer that claims she was not properly paid by the Wu Tang front man. Thea Van Seijen sued the rapper for unpaid royalties after the singer was employed on songs from RZA, but he claims that he never ...and more »
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 00:37:23 GMT
RZA hits back at Dutch singer's lawsuitReverb MSN Music (blog)However, RZA, real name Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, has now fired at back at her allegations, filing legal papers in which he states Van Seijen was compensated for her work at the time and is not listed as a co-author on any of the songs, according to TMZ.com.and more » Sun, 31 Mar 2013 23:42:30 GMT Sun, 31 Mar 2013 22:09:58 GMT Sun, 31 Mar 2013 16:11:12 GMT Sun, 31 Mar 2013 17:07:01 GMT
Sun, 31 Mar 2013 12:25:09 GMT
News: RZA Fights Back In Hefty Money-Jacking CaseSOHHWu-Tang Clan leader RZA is reportedly willing to fight a legal matter in court after being sued a few months ago by a Dutch singer who claimed she was short-changed by him. According to reports, Bobby Digital claims he never agreed to pay out royalties or ...and more »
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