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Wu Tang Clan's RZA- Most Hip Hop Stars Are Marsh Mellows

Author: Benedetta Skrufff
Monday, July 14, 2003
"A lot of the artists acting so tough and wanting to be gangstas are marsh mellows. If you see them (in real life) they're not the same person you see on TV. And when they get money they start acting even more gangsta'. It's a lot of propaganda and bullshit. I remember when Wu Tang Clan used to come to the clubs, all those same artists would hide."

Sitting in a luxury private members bar in London's Mayfair, Wu Tang Clan founder and commander-in-chief Robert 'RZA' Diggs seems a million miles away from the bullets and bling of New York's increasingly violent hip hop world. Not that he's too personally concerned by events such the recent murder of Run DMC guru Jam Master Jay, whose killers remain at large.

"Somebody knows what happened with Jam Master Jay but I don't think it was associated particularly with hip hop," he told Skrufff's Benedetta.

"That kind of thing happens every day in our community, somebody gets robbed, killed, shot, whatever. It just happened to be a celebrity that day." Despite his apparently flippant bravado though, he's more than happy to drop his mask.

"But none of us are so tough," he admits.

"We all got a certain fear."

Gun crime aside, he's firing on all cylinders to promote his new solo album The World According To RZA, a collaborative project between the Staten Island producer and the cream of European hip hop. Combining RZA's songs and production skills with French, British and German collaborators (including Blade, Skinnyman, Ghostface Supakilla and IAM) the record highlights hip hop's truly global nature as well as RZA's unusually internationalist outlook (for an American hip hop artist, anyway.)

"The album was originally going to be called War because I'm having a war to break down the barriers people put up against each other," he explained.

"How can you have these borders where people are separated and try to kill each other if someone crosses the line. All it's about (the Iraq War) is a small bunch of men in each of those places controlling the masses of the people. It's like big gang banging- for real."

RZA's use of Ali G's 'for real' catchphrase also appears to be less than coincidental.

"Ali G is crazy, Yo! he's crazy," he laughs.

"I didn't even watch the show then everybody started calling me saying 'Listen, this motherfucka's acting like you'. I guess coz' he had the glasses, the hat and the rings. I said 'This guy is funny'. He is funny, though, let me tell you, he's crazy. I don't know if he chose to copy me or not but it looks like it. All my friends think so, anyway."

Skrufff (Benedetta): The album was originally due to come out in 2001, why has it been delayed until now-

RZA: "We had a lot of label problems then I guess the 911 situation happening and the music industry going through its recession also played their parts. Releasing it involved a lot of politics between labels. Originally we were going to release it on BMG then we switched to Virgin Records which meant we had to do all the paperwork and legal stuff all over again. That's one of the sad things about the music business- it sometimes hurts the music because it hinders its release. Fortunately, Virgin recognised the importance of the record and its potential, so they picked it up and have given it a fair shot."

Skrufff: You've cancelled quite a few trips in recent months, was that connected with terror threats-

RZA: "No, no, no, the last time I was sick and I had family problems, that was in May, when I cancelled my whole European trip. I had too many things to do back home. The time before that, in March, it was due to bad scheduling by the record company. I was already on a tour and they wanted to fly me from Eastern Europe to London then fly me back for a concert and I was like 'Hold on, this isn't going to work'. I was flying all over Europe, doing press then flying to concerts and it got to the stage where my knees were so stiff that I wasn't able to do my<