By Lisa Respers France, CNN
(CNN) — Out of all the members of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA may win the award for having the most diverse career.
The Brooklyn-born rapper has also acted, produced, scored films and directed a few titles as well. Even he’s surprised by the places his gifts have taken him.
“I definitely didn’t imagine me being a film director,” he told CNN. “It was something that as an artist, I had to see someone else do and realize that wow, I’m on that same wavelength.”
He added that “of course,” that someone else was Quentin Tarantino.
RZA scored Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” and that’s not even the coolest thing about him.
Superstar singer Rihanna and her partner rapper A$AP Rocky named their now one-year-old son RZA.
The original RZA told CNN it is “a great honor to know that there’s another generation that’s not even of my own household that feels the strength and the inspiration of that name.”
“RZA is only a name, it’s a title,” he said. “So it’s an honor and I salute her and A$AP and their family. All the blessings in the world from me.”
The rapper and filmmaker also puts a great deal of stock into “keeping it real,” a mentality that is part of his new partnership with whiskey company Ballantine that kicked off recently, with the release of the limited edition Ballantine’s X RZA Crosley record player.
It was a project he was excited about because of the creativity behind it and the shared sense of “staying true to yourself, honor yourself.” That coupled with the fact that people seem to have rediscovered their love of playing records made it a win-win for him.
Naturally, RZA is also a fan of vinyl, and one album he’s been spinning a lot he said is The Isley Brothers’s “The Heat Is On.”
But he has another favorite that might come as a surprise.
“I’ve been spinning Leonard Cohen’s first album a lot,” he said. “I just love the lyrical style of his voice and the acousticness of his guitar. Very awkward for RZA to say that, but that’s what it is.”
Record players also factor into hip-hop, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Likewise, the Wu Tang Clan is celebrating 30 years in the music industry, and RZA reflected on the importance of turntables to the genre that helped make him a star.
“When we go back and think about great DJs like Grandmaster Flash or Kool Herc who started with putting these vinyls on their turntables and playing it outside their windows so other people could gather around, or taking it to a city park and plug it up to the light pole and blasting it so that the community could gather together under the course of music,” he said, “it’s always been something beautiful about it. We lost it for a while and I’m glad that there’s a reemergence of it.”
RZA views it as important not only for the past of hip-hop, but also the present and the future.
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