Posted by buhizzle
As a Wu-Tang stan — and a stubborn one, at that — I always hated reading and hearing people say shit along the lines of the Wu being “over”, or “dead”, or trying to start rumors that they were “breaking up”. Yes, the quality of music coming from the Wu camp is not the same as it was some 10 years ago, but that could be said for roughly 95% of rappers, and that’s an underestimation if anything. And recent history has only further proven the fact that rap crews can’t be on top forever (i.e. G-Unit now, DipSet circa the last time Cam’ron and Jim Jones spoke to each other). It’s as if the fact that the Wu was the greatest shit in the game back in the mid-to-late ’90s means that they shouldn’t be allowed to still put out records today.
As for the “breaking up” rumors, I would always tell my non-Wu-listening friends that the relationships within the Wu dated back to before music — at least, that’s the impression I’d received over time listening to their music, reading interviews and what not. I’d always believed that the Wu would never “break up”, even if they decided to stop recording music together… and, unfortunately, things may have come to this point with the disaster that was 8 Diagrams. (And, when I say “disaster”, I’m referring to the well-publicized complaints over the sound of the album from Wu members, not the actual album itself, which I honestly enjoyed. But, again, stubborn Wu-Tang stan talking over here.)
I say all of that to say this… I was initially skeptical about doing a Beat Drop for The RZA. I mean, I figured it would have to come — if the aim of these posts is to compile different opinions on the greatest beats from the greatest producers, then leaving the Wu-Tang Clan’s maestro out of the equation would be criminal. But, unlike many of the producers that we’ve covered in the past, The RZA’s best almost entirely comes out of one collective group of albums, those being the Wu-Tang Clan and its many members. Likewise, Organized Noize’s best would almost entirely come out of Dungeon Family releases, and DJ Paul and Juicy J’s best would almost entirely come out of Hypnotize Camp Posse releases.
I guess that my skepticism was based around the likelihood that a RZA Beat Drop would come off like a whiny bitch-fit about how hip hop was great before, and sucks now, and so on and so forth. So, I had a by-myself meeting, as I do every evening, and I asked myself, “Self… so what?” That is but a small price to pay to properly honor someone like The RZA.
Robert Diggs has one of hip hop’s greatest ears for music, using innovative samples that helped pave the way for the future of hip hop production, always willing to take risks to advance his sound (though those risks and advancements may not have always pleased everyone). He had the foresight necessary to build the first true hip hop empire, strategically planning out the first wave of Wu-Tang solo projects. And, above all, he’s a really intelligent dude.
I had the honor of hearing him speak back in my undergrad days, during his promotional tour for The Wu-Tang Manual (which I’d still like to read one day). It was an experience that I’ll never forget — hearing him talk about going to his first block party at 8 years old with The GZA, selling newspapers with Ol’ Dirty to save up money to buy equipment, how one could make a breakbeat out of everything from rock-and-roll to samba, how he loved Kung Fu because it reminded him of struggles he encountered as opposed to the black history at the time that seemed to focused on either slavery or pimps. Though I certainly wouldn’t want to take on the task of transcribing his at-times-mumbled words (word to AaronM), hearing him speak makes it clear how hard he has worked to get to where he is, and how humble he has remained. Simply put, success didn’t stumble upon The RZA — he sought it out, made it his, and it can never be taken from him.