By: Chris Yuscavage
If the only thing RZA ever accomplished was injecting kung fu movie and soul samples into Wu-Tang Clan’s classic debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), there’s a good chance he would still be considered one of the best hip-hop producers ever. But the Clan’s Abbot didn’t stop there. In addition to producing a majority of the tracks on four more Wu-Tang albums, RZA also handled all production duties on classic Wu-Tang solo projects like Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... and Ghostface Killah's Ironman.
Over the years, he also helped score a handful of films, including Kill Bill Volume 1, and, most recently, for his directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists. But, it’s his work on 36 Chambers that remains the pillar of his legacy, especially since Kanye West copped to copying RZA’s sonic style back in 2007. “The style I use,” Kanye West told MTV, “RZA has been doing that.” Beautiful minds think alike.
GZA, Wu-Tang Clan recording artist, says:
“RZA’s capacity for learning and his broad range of knowledge on many subjects make him rare. His ability to apply that knowledge to music is a beautiful thing. On 36 Chambers, he rewrote the scripture by combining kung fu, mathematics, Eastern philosophy, science, soul music, chess, love, peace, happiness, and struggle on one album. On [my 1995 solo debut] Liquid Swords, his production was like a tailor-made suit specifically designed for the lyrics. While mastering the album, RZA sent an engineer to get a VHS tape of the movie Shogun Assassin, which became the album’s theme. He brings more to the table than just music.”