RZA Talks Music and Directing

n the center of a dusty room on the top floor of St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit, 42-year-old music icon, RZA, lounges on a low couch, wearing a dark jacket to shield himself from the brisk autumn cold seeping through the large picture windows. Leaning back, he continues to send emails on his phone-nonchalantly mentioning he was finalizing last minute details for the DVD for The Man with the Iron Fists, his directorial debut.

"That was my foundation into music, one of these things," he says, while pointing to a vintage tape recorder on the coffee table between us. "We used to get a tape recorder, get a stack of comic books and a shoe box, and play the drums and rap." He continues to reminisce on the days when he and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard gained interest in music.

"I'd always stay at his house. His mom had a job, so they always had pancakes," he says laughing. "I would stay there for the weekend, and Saturday mornings we'd get up and watch kung fu movies, fight kung fu together, put on costumes and all kinds of things, and then at night we used to make demos and rap about the kung fu movies."

Kung-Fu always has played an inspirational role in the artist's life and work-from his days as a 9-year old kid to his career as the mastermind behind the New York rap group the Wu-Tang Clan. So it's no surprise that RZA would break into movie directing with a classically-inspired kung fu film in which he also co-wrote and stars.

No stranger to the film industry, having produced musical scores for movies such as Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, RZA learned directing from one of the best in the business, Oscar winning director Quentin Tarentino, by shadowing him on the set of some of his movies.


Watch the official trailer for The Man with the Iron Fists:

"While they were filming Kill Bill, I would sit in the corner and take notes and watch what everybody did. I'd talk to the crews at night for a long time, and with Death Proof, the same thing," RZA says.

The Man with the Iron Fists also stars Hollywood-heavyweights Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu and features plenty of blood, gore and action thanks to RZA's collaboration with co-writer Eli Roth, who's famous for movies like Hostel and Grindhouse.

RZA recorded music for the movie's soundtrack, but his passion and focus lately is filmmaking, he says. As the momentum from his film career continued to build, his focus on solo music projects naturally slowed down, and RZA faced opposition from his music colleagues, partners and family on the professional shift.

"[My brother] would always come to Cali, 'when you coming back to make an album, man. Fuck this movie shit, man. You're making millions fucking in music, why would you want to walk away from that to do this?'

"I said, 'I'm not doing this for the money. My heart feels happy doing this.'"

The Man With the Iron Fists opens in theatres Nov. 2. It's rated R.

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