RZA Talks Music Campaign With Chipotle & Hip-Hop As America's Dominant Genre

The legendary musician has presented a music experience like no other with the restaurant chain. 

Legendary musician RZA has sprinkled new flavor on Chipotle’s menu in the form of an incredibly detailed music app.

Announced last week, SAVOR.WAVS is the brand's latest campaign that blends ingredients and music into an enjoyable experience for customers. To commemorate Chipotle’s use of 51 non-additive ingredients, the company teamed up with the legend to orchestrate 51 pieces of music to each ingredient, thus creating an audio version of a customer’s meal. During the brand’s special launch of the campaign in New York Wednesday (Jul. 19), RZA crafted his orchestra to perform his favorite meal–a veggie burrito.

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The live performance provided the perfect segway to the mobile app, which features the musical composition and 360-degree visuals that glide across the screen in real time. In addition to the custom-made tune, consumers can also enjoy remixes by Wu-Tang Clan, AWOLNATION and The Head and the Heart.

“SAVOR.WAVS supports our commitment to using only real ingredients in our food — without any colors, flavors or industrial additives,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. “As a parallel to the way we cook, RZA used only natural instruments, and composed them such that each unique combination works beautifully together.”

From his work with Wu-Tang Clan to scoring projects like Django Unchained, Afro Samurai and Man With the Iron Fist, RZA’s hand in the Chipotle pot helps steer the brand into creative and natural territory.

“I’ve always believed food, like music, has the power to change our day and even shape our world,” RZA said. “SAVOR.WAVS continues to challenge us in how we think about food, what’s real and what’s responsible.”

Below, the producer dishes on the the creative process behind SAVOR.WAVS, his journey to veganism and hip-hop’s as America’s sought after music genre.

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What were your first thoughts when Chipotle came to you with SAVOR.WAVS?

I went home and started making beats, but that means I had to use digital equipment. So after two weeks I went back to the brand and said, ‘If we’re doing this, we’re going to need an orchestra.’ (Laughs)

Given that there’s so many sounds blending together, was it difficult to come up with a cohesive algorithm?

Not really because the foundation was so strong. It was the Mpk keyboard set-up [I have] at home and one of my holding modules. I called the band in (which were only 15 musicians) and those musicians restructured the creative foundation. From there, I called Howard Drossin in. We’ve done about five projects together (The Man With The Iron Fists, Afro Samurai) so we have a strong musical language. As the copyist, his job was to take everything we created and put it into sheet music.

Once it was written out in front of us, were able to to make sure everything had it's harmonic place.

So very, very detailed. What is the language you and the orchestra share?

Music is the language. It's a universal language. We talk about feeling good and sometimes, a meal does that.

Yes, food can be pretty comforting.

I think music is the same as well. I go over to try and see if we could match that.

You’re a proud Vegan. What are some vegan or vegetarian practices we can take part in on a budget?

The Chipotle diet! (Laughs) The bean burrito is the bomb. When you get that with some rice, guacamole and a little bit of salsa with lettuce, you're in business. They have sofritas and that’s a nice vegetarian dish too.

If you want to try some great vegetarian dishes, there's Red Bamboo cafe and another spot called Vegan Paradise. Both have very great vegan menus. I’ve been vegan for over 20 years, but I started as a vegetarian and grew into veganism in between.

I stopped with the red meat, let go of turkey and chicken and then I held onto fish. When we finished Wu-Tang Forever, I felt like I evolved and completely dived into veganism. It didn't make sense to be smoking weed, chasing girls and thinking, ‘I don't want no fish.’ (Laughs) And now, I feel great.

It's totally a journey for your mind and body, but back to the music. What do the remixes with you and Wu-Tang sound like?

They definitely reflect the menu. I start with the vegetarian vibe, Meth comes in adds some beef, Raekwon comes in with chicken and Ghost comes in with the hot sauce (laughs).

What do you think about hip-hop music surpassing rock as America’s most dominant music genre?

I think that's beautiful. I think hip-hop, outside of any other genre is a well encompassed genre. So I think this reflects that. It's American born and it affects America.

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