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  • - You know, the funny thing about talking about your past,

  • it feels like you always have the answers, right?

  • And it's easy to say that "Oh, I knew, I knew, I knew".

  • And most things I won't be able to say

  • that I knew I was on the right course,

  • but for the Wu-Tang Clan, I knew.

  • Peace, whatup yo?

  • This is RZA, right here, from the Wu-Tang Clan

  • and this is the timeline of my career.

  • ♪ I got too many ladies

  • ♪ I got to learn to say no

  • Ohh, We Love You Rakeem

  • When I first started makin' music I was part of a crew:

  • me, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and GZA

  • called "All in Together Now".

  • And we had joined the manager named Melquan.

  • And Melquan thought that I had the lyrical talent

  • to be a solo artist,

  • so he put me in the studio to record songs, on my own.

  • But none were as catchy,

  • or as poppy as the hip-hop movement was at that time.

  • And so Tommy Boy suggested that I recorded a song

  • that had more of a pop appeal

  • and kind of fun, female-orientated song.

  • "Ooh We Love You Rakeem" became that song.

  • It became my first single as a recording artist,

  • my first release, my first video.

  • When you try to go and become an artist,

  • and you record a song, and you get a video,

  • you feel that life is gonna be all uphill.

  • But the song didn't work,

  • and so eventually Tommy Boy pulled the plug

  • on my album project.

  • There was a defeat in all reality,

  • but I think my determination

  • and my personality of not accepting defeat,

  • I didn't blame myself.

  • I didn't blame nobody.

  • I just felt like it was a bad move

  • and I gotta make a better move.

  • And so, even though I felt the defeat of it,

  • that defeat actually fueled me

  • to make sure my next attempt became successful.

  • The ruckus, ten times ten men committing mad sin

  • Turn the other cheek

  • And I'll break your fucking chin

  • Slaying boom-bangs like African drums [we'll be] ♪

  • Coming around the mountain when I come

  • For me, creatively, I realized that the best thing

  • I could do is express myself, unfiltered,

  • uninfluenced by outside opinions.

  • If I'm feelin' good about it

  • and if my immediate crew around me is feelin' good about it,

  • something has to be good about it.

  • So I returned back to my hip-hop roots.

  • Was just makin' beats in my my basement,

  • making songs, spontaneous, based on a vibe,

  • and I was feelin',

  • it was all about, just coming with a natural,

  • unpredictable talent that I felt that I had inside me.

  • And that led me to start making beats

  • that was probably obscure,

  • very different from a lot of producers at the the time.

  • And it also led me to connect with my Wu-Tang brothers,

  • other MCs who also was hungry

  • for the raw style of hip-hop,

  • the style of hip-hop that was really based in lyricism,

  • and MC battles, and challenges.

  • And you take that energy

  • along with, I think, some of mythology

  • that we acquired through watching kung-fu movies

  • and reading comic books.

  • When we fused our natural lives together,

  • it definitely effected and created a product

  • that stands the test of time.

  • For me to go back and reflect

  • on the first sessions that Wu-Tang had,

  • I mean, there had to be something,

  • like Columbus discovering America,

  • like a new frontier.

  • But to get all nine members and all this energy,

  • bundled together in the studio session

  • was unknown of, unheard of,

  • and for me, it was just total excitement.

  • And as the producer,

  • I never left the studio.

  • You know, you look back and see me in old documentaries,

  • you'll see me just,

  • you could tell my Under Armours was smelling bad, y'all.

  • Because you could tell that I slept there,

  • I got up in the next day,

  • I kept goin', I kept goin'.

  • It felt, kinda, almost like mad scientist

  • tryin' to create something.

  • Exuberating, exhilarating, all the energies

  • that I felt recording that album

  • has never been captured again in our reality.

  • It was experimenting and going into what was unknown.

  • You know?

  • But bravely going into it, you know?

  • Creatively.

  • It's that style of bringing sound energy together

  • was definitely new

  • and as that mad scientist producer,

  • it was like the trip of a lifetime.

  • Escape from your Dragon's Lair

  • In particular

  • My beats travel like a vortex

  • Through your spine

  • To the top of your cerebral cortex

  • Make you feel like you bust [buzz] from raw sex

  • After going through the first five albums

  • into the "36 Chambers",

  • "Return to the 36 Chambers", O.D.B,

  • to "Cow" by Method Man,

  • "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." by Raekwon,

  • "Liquid Swords" by the GZA,

  • even "Ironman" by Ghostface Killah,

  • and maybe the Gravediggaz,

  • so all these records that came out,

  • all was platinum or gold, and critically acclaimed

  • and it was like the Wu-movement

  • felt like it was really firmly established in hip-hop.

  • So after all these solo albums,

  • it's now time to regroup and go back in the studio

  • and try to recapture that team of energy

  • that we did on "36 Chambers".

  • I was probably at my best creative self.

  • I had gained some knowledge on music theory.

  • My music equipment was advanced at that stage as well.

  • It wasn't the same as when we was doing the first album

  • where we all was in the studio,

  • you know, sharing a big [indistinct],

  • sharing a sandwich.

  • It was like, now success was tasted by everyone.

  • It wasn't egos,

  • it was more like everyone now wanted to come back together

  • and prove that Wu-Tang could be number one.

  • I asked these guys to give me five years

  • and I promised we would be number one,

  • so now it was time to live up to that promise.

  • We actually all headed to California,

  • and we had what they called the Oakwood apartments.

  • And we rented out fifteen apartments.

  • We rented out two studios

  • and these studios was going 24 hours a day.

  • It was really like the studio was kinda like a barbecue,

  • you know what I mean?

  • Because there was so many of us there

  • and so much talent being recorded.

  • We rocked that place.

  • It came out and it was number one on the Billboards.

  • We shipped two million records in the first couple of weeks.

  • And it was a double album.

  • And so that means it ended up grossing the industry

  • about 40 million dollars, yo.

  • And that's, like, Hollywood numbers,

  • you know what I mean?

  • We felt like Hollywood stars.

  • We definitely felt like we were sittin' on top of the world.

  • I felt it, as a producer, as a MC,

  • but more importantly for me,

  • I think I felt that what I considered the nine greatest MCs

  • in the world had arrived to their destiny

  • to show the world that they was number one.

  • It was our triumph.

  • [melodic hip-hop beat]

  • - Ghost Dog, Power Equality.

  • - Always see everything, my brother

  • - So after "Wu-Tang Forever",

  • if any fans of Wu-Tang would listen to the album,

  • you would know the songs like "Reunited"

  • and you would hear loud violins being played

  • and you would hear that certain melodies

  • and certain chord progresses are starting to grow.

  • It's starting to become more classical in production style.

  • So music theory is evolving more and more inside of me.

  • And then, having a chance to be friends with Quincy Jones

  • and have a lot of conversations with him

  • about jazz theory and what music should be,

  • and then one day in my office,

  • a guy named Dreddy Kruger shows up at my office

  • with Jim Jarmusch.

  • And Jim Jarmusch, I think they met each other,

  • they had the same weed dealer.

  • He shows up and he says that he has a film

  • he's working on called "Ghost Dog"

  • and he want me to be the composer.

  • And it clicked for me,

  • it's like "wow, I was headed to be a composer".

  • And it all just fell in place.

  • I had conversation with Quincy Jones,

  • he composed his first movie at the age of thirty,

  • and I think I had just turned twenty eight

  • and I was like "well? If I start now, maybe I can catch up

  • and be, you know, as great as you one day".

  • When you want to go from hip-hop music to scoring,

  • it's not an easy transition.

  • In fact, if you hear Jim tell you the story,

  • I could've been, up to that day,

  • the toughest composer he worked with

  • because I didn't understand the technical,

  • logistical side of what composing was.

  • Jim, he tells the story and we laugh about it,

  • that I would show up to the scoring session

  • with a deck full of music,

  • but not placed properly in the movie

  • and I would show up at eleven pm at night,

  • me and O.D.B. with a couple of 40s.

  • It was like "here's the next few pieces

  • of music that I wrote for the movie",

  • and he has to go and figure out like "wait what do I do?".

  • I said "well that's for that scene",

  • but you can't do like "but that's for that scene".

  • It has to be like "there's an in; there's an out".

  • There's a queue sheet.

  • There was no queue sheet for "Ghost Dog".

  • [intense beat]

  • "Kill Bill", I think was one of the coolest things

  • that happened to my career, to that date.

  • I mean, having number one albums

  • and going to platinum records, of course, is great

  • but a movie score on such a big film.

  • I think we got nominated for BAFTAs and Oscars.

  • It was just a different, a different experience for me.

  • And working with a great mind like Quentin Tarantino,

  • a great creative mind,

  • a music lover,

  • and eventually a mentor of mine.

  • When he had the script of "Kill Bill",

  • he put it in my hands,

  • said "I want you to read this".

  • And I read it and I was just amazed by it.

  • I think it was 200 pages

  • but in the original draft of the script

  • he had, like, the sound effects written in it,

  • 'cause you know, I make my music like that,

  • so I'm like "this guy is in the same mind frame".

  • I actually realized that I wanted to learn

  • about film directing,

  • and he was interested in learning about music production.

  • We said we would exchange ideas

  • and that led to me going to China,

  • on-set with my composition notebook and writing,

  • and taking in lessons about film directing.

  • From angles, to what a DP does,

  • what the production designer does.

  • I just spent time studying

  • and Quentin was a gracious teacher.

  • It may be around the final week of shooting in Mexico,