Gig Guides, Music Concert Tickets at Livemusic.fm

LIVEMUSIC INTERVIEW: GZA

 

One of my enduring childhood memories was being given a copy of the Wu-Tang Clan's 'Enter the 36 Chambers' by my next-door neighbour. I remember listening to the tape religiously on my walkman over and over again (as well as my mother taking an instant dislike to the neighbour in question for introducing me to the world of gangster-rap.)
 
As a young-lad of 10 years, I marvelled, mainly at the shit-load of swear-words within the raps but also at the lyrical content of the record. It was my official soundtrack to Euro '96. Fuck the 'Three Lions', I had the '36 Chambers.'
 
Fast-forward several years and the album was once again an integral part of my life, this time playing it's part in my introduction to the world of recreational drugs. I'd sit about with my mates whilst Method Man instructed us to, "roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it." We duly obliged.
 
By no means was the record all about cursing, drugs and violence, it was riddled with spellbinding rhymes, silky-smooth delivery and of course some of the finest beats ever to be crafted by man. One member in particular sparked the receptors in my brain into a frenzied-overload. The man in question is referred to by his fellow Wu-Tang members as 'The Genius.' 
 
This lyrical-mastermind is regarded as the "spiritual head" of the Wu-Tang, being the oldest member of the clan and the first to strike up a solo record deal. His 1995 album 'Liquid Swords' is a shining example of word-smithery at it's finest and is still widely considered as one of the greatest releases from the Wu-Tang camp. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the man himself to talk about what makes 'The Genius' a genius.
 
Livemusic: GZA, thanks for taking time out to talk to us. We're curious, where does your name come from? Tell us about your youth, how you started emceeing and your influences as a teenager growing up in New York?
 
GZA: RZA and ODB (RIP) gave me that name when we formed our group 'The All In Together Now Crew.' RZA was the scientist and ODB was the professor. When I was a child used to read 'Mother Goose' and started playing around with the rhymes, reciting them forwards and backwards. When I got a little older I would listen to my aunt's 'Last Poets' album.
 
LM: Did you try your hand at any other avenues of hip-hop culture as well?
 
GZA: Hanging out with RZA and ODB. I gave graffiti and b-boying a shot but rhyming was definitely my calling.
 
LM: Being in New York in the the early '90's in what many people regard as the 'golden age' of hip-hop, must have been a special thing to be involved with, tell us about it?
 
GZA: It was an amazing privilege to be part of the movement as it was defining itself.
 
LM: I bet! How do you think the game has changed since then?
 
GZA: It's gotten much more commercial but that's what always happens when an artistic movement attains global crossover status. And with the digital revolution the market has become much more singles driven.
 
LM: So your first solo album refers to you as 'Brooklyn Freestyle Champ.' But the Wu is all about Shaolin (Staten Island), which is it you call home?
 
GZA: I was born and raised in Brooklyn but my formative Wu-Tang years were in Shaolin. I call both home.
 
LM: Wu-Tang has evolved over the years. From an underground rap movement to a cult-following, we've even heard people referring to it as a religion! How do you get your head round the popularity of the whole thing?
 
GZA: Though I would hardly call it a religion, I am humbled by the level of devotion from our fans.
 
LM: The Wu-symbol is one of the most iconic logo's on the planet. We recently saw someone that was making Wu-shaped pizzas! What's the strangest place you've ever seen the Wu-symbol show up?!
 
GZA: I've seen an amazing array of tattoos all over the world. That's dedication!
 
LM: We've seen it over the years that you guys live large and party it up with the best of 'em, tell us about some of the crazy shit you've been caught up in?!
 
GZA: What happens in the Wu-Tang, stays in the Wu-Tang!!
 
LM: Youself, RZA and Bill Murray make up sickest scene in Jim Jarmusch's 'Coffee and Cigarettes.' The dialogue between the 3 of you was golden! Was the whole scene scripted or did you freestyle it?
 
GZA: Thank you. There was an outline but a lot of it was improvised, which was a lot of fun.
 
LM: You work very closely with RZA on a lot of your projects, can you explain a bit about your relationship as artists?
 
GZA: We're family and we're also very in tune creatively. We have a great rapport as producer-lyricist as well as fellow emcee's because we're very similar in so many ways.
 
LM: You've toured all over the globe, which city would you say is your 'home-away-from-home'?
 
GZA: That's impossible to say... My fans make me feel at home in each city, despite the language and cultural differences.
 
LM: You have a new album out this year, allegedly titled 'Liquid Swords 2: The Return of the Shadowboxer' is there any truth in this?
 
GZA: Liquid Swords 2 is only a concept at this point.
 
LM: So aside from the new album, what else can we expect to see you involved with in the near future?
 
GZA: I recently lectured at Harvard and I will do more of that. I'm also working on projects in television, film and publishing.
 
LM: Wow, you're truly a jack-of-all-trades! Thank you for taking time out to chat to us, it's been a pleasure.
 
GZA: Thanks to my fans for their enduring support and I look forward to coming back and performing for everyone. Like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thegza and follow me on Twitter @TheRealGZA for the most timely and accurate updates about my movements. My pen is on fire and I have some amazing surprises planned for everyone!!
 
GZA's UK tour kicks off in London on 28th January @ O2 Academy Oxford. Tickets are available from Livemusic.
COMPETITION TIME!!
Previous Story
COMPETITION TIME!! ...
COMPETITION TIME!!
Previous Story
COMPETITION TIME!! ...
OBAMA SINGS "LET'S STAY TOGETHER"
Next Story
OBAMA SINGS "LET'S STAY TOGETHER" ...
OBAMA SINGS "LET'S STAY TOGETHER"
Next Story
OBAMA SINGS "LET'S STAY TOGETHER" ...

Video Gallery

Connect with Facebook