Interview: RZA And Shavo Spread “Positivity” With ‘Achozen’ Album
Wu-Tang’s RZA and System of Down’s Shavo have been making music together for years now. It was a chance meeting that lead to the guys becoming fast friends in 2008. Both from multi-platinum groups in hip-hop and rock, their musical connection was immediate. However, grueling tour and work schedules have kept their much anticipated collaborative album on ice until 2015.
Aimed to help spread positivity and inspiration to the world, their project, Achozen, is 100% percent curse free and steers clear of any negative themes. In a time when “cops are killing people with their arms us,” RZA and Shavo want to do their part to help educated the masses.
Fans can purchase the Achozen album at The Boombotixs official webstore.
Read on for their exclusive interview with VIBE.com
VIBE: If I’m not mistaken, Achozen, is a project you guys had in the works since since 2008?
RZA: Bong Bong! Yeah, me and Shavo came together and we formed this band for a special reason. We just released the music after maybe six years of recording and mastering. We finally came to the decision to release this in the most unique way.
Shavo: At first, we were just two friends who loved music. Right when we met, it was positive energy meets positive energy between us. We’re both creative artists and it just worked and it melted into an album. We found out that we live pretty close to each other, like two miles away. So, it just became him coming over, and us jamming every day. It started off with a track, and then it went into two, and then it just became something that we wanted to do. We schooled each other on things that he was raised on that I had no clue about, and on things that I was raised on that he didn’t know about. We bonded, not only as musicians but as people, as human beings, and as friends. And I think that’s the most important thing about this album is that it comes from an organic place.
When Bobby brought The Boombotics idea to me, I was so intrigued. We were very protective of the album. We have so many people on there that we admire and have taught us also, like The Genius, we got John Frusciante, we got George Clinton, and then we got some newbies like Rev. William Burke.
VIBE: Would you say it’s a passion project?
RZA: It’s definitely a passion project, but also a project with meaning. The name Achozen comes from “many shall come, but few are chosen.” And that’s those who choose themselves. Me and Shavo, we became friends as musicians and peers, but as we started to know each other — I learned something about his history that I didn’t know which was the Armenian genocide.
I wasn’t conscious of it, and how it happened and affected so many lives. I have empathy because living in America as a black man through the oppression that we go through, I can understand genocide. But you don’t think that happens to anybody else. You hear about our Jewish brothers in the Holocaust, and the you hear about the African slave trade, but you don’t hear about the Armenian genocide. It’s the same energy that kind of attracted me to the martial arts of Shaolin and all of that was through films. I was able to watch the oppression of the Chinese. Bruce Lee couldn’t even go to his own park! No Chinese or dogs allowed, and he was in China. Those types of things resonated with me. You’ll hear us talking about it on “Fabricated Lies.”
VIBE: Since you guys both have strong production skills, what was the creative process like for the beats?
Shavo: When I started with the beats, I had the studio set up at my house, and Bobby was showing me a few things. I had the Protools, the 909 and a MPC. I also had 150 bass guitars in there when he walked in for the first time. That was like our home for so long and we were both showing each other little tricks. Next thing you know, he goes on tour, I go on tour and when we came back, I had 50 beats. Sonically, I guess I would put this project in like an electro hip-hop kind of space. Because I play instruments, I started purchasing a lot of odd obscure instruments like a sitar and like a bouzouki to incorporate — instead of just using programs to mimic sounds.
Shavo: And the vocals too and the same with that, we sampled some vocals. It has a real organic feel to it even though it’s done in a room with machines. There’s one important thing I want to mention. When we started Achozen, I personally wanted to release a positive energy record, not a negative, because I thought there were so many albums out there in hip-hop and rock that just talked about how shitty the world is instead of talking about how good you can make it. So I didn’t want to put any curses on the record. I wanted this record for the kids. GZA has a famous line, he says ‘my album ain’t got no parental sticker because I think wise words are much slicker.’
I think it’s a great time for a project like this. It almost feels like we’re going through another Civil War in America.
RZA: Exactly. There’s an unsolved problem in America. But we offer a solution in our own way. One solution we offer on the first song is knowledge. There’s a lyric that says, ‘I don’t know the ledge, don’t fall off the edge, and stop walking around like the living dead. Cuz in these days and times, it’s time to purify our bodies and our minds. Stop taking drugs and eating swine’.
No pills, no pork!
RZA: ‘That’s not the right track for the young seeds indeed we need to take heed and understand what it takes to be a real man. Pick up your bible and Koran. Maybe a mixture of all the scriptures can help us get a clear picture.” And that’s what I’m talking about. Everybody is so self-centered into what they think and what they see, they’re not paying attention to what they see. Like you said before the interview, the cab driver was looking at you like you a tourist. But you know this city, yo! Don’t put no label on me.
We’re choosing a path and it’s the path of positivity. Without money. We get budgets to make records nowadays. For years, I been getting money to do that sh*t. We didn’t get no money to do this.
[All Photos by Karl Ferguson]