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born on 5/7/1969 in Brooklyn, NY, United States

Alias Robert Fitzgerald Diggs

Links (English)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (born July 5, 1969), better known by his stage name Rza (stylized RZA) ( /rz/ RIZ-), is an American music producer, multi-instrumentalist, author, rapper, actor, director, and screenwriter. A prominent figure in hip hop, RZA is the de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan.[1] He has produced almost all of Wu-Tang Clan's albums as well as many Wu-Tang solo and affiliate projects. He is a cousin of the late band-mate, Ol' Dirty Bastard and The GZA (who also formed the group with RZA). He has also released solo albums under the alter-ego Bobby Digital, along with executive producing credits for side projects. In addition to the Wu-Tang Clan and his solo releases, RZA was also a founding member of the horrorcore Hip Hop group Gravediggaz where he used the name The RZArector. Furthermore, he has acted in several movies, including Coffee and Cigarettes, American Gangster, Gospel Hill, Life Is Hot in Cracktown, Ghost Dog, Funny People, Derailed, Due Date and Repo Men. He also appears in the Showtime TV series Californication. His directorial debut is for the film he co-wrote and in which he plays the title role, The Man with the Iron Fists, also starring Russell Crowe. On November 1, 2012, he introduced the movie at a preview screening in the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, the evening before the Universal picture opened nationwide.

The magazine The Source placed him on its list of the 20 greatest producers in the magazine's twenty-year history.[2] He also made the "Elite 8" in the search for The Greatest Hip-Hop Producer of All Time by Vibe.[3] NME placed him on their list of the 50 Greatest Producers Ever.[4]

Early life

RZA was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He lived in North Carolina with his uncle from age three to seven, who encouraged him to read and study.[5] RZA was introduced to hip hop music at the age of nine, and by eleven, was competing in rap battles. He relocated to Steubenville, Ohio in 1990, to live with his mother. He spent weekends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where his father ran a convenience store in the city's Hill District.[6]

RZA got involved with petty crime and drug-dealing, and was charged with attempted murder while in Steubenville. He was acquitted of the charge, giving him what he stated was a "second chance".[7] He is named after Robert Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.[8] His mother greatly admired the Kennedys, the RZA has called his given name an "honorable" name, given the legacy of both brothers Robert and John.

Music career

1991: Before Wu-Tang

Robert Diggs formed a rap group with his cousins Russell Jones and Gary Grice called All in Together Now. The group had some local success but never signed a record deal.[9] Diggs later debuted on Tommy Boy Records in 1991 as a solo artist under the name Prince Rakeem and released the Ooh I Love You Rakeem EP. Diggs later formed a new group including his cousins and five other childhood friends. This group would be named Wu-Tang Clan and they released their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers in 1993.[10] RZA operated as the Wu-Tang Clan's de facto leader producing and rapping on the group's songs.

1994-1996: Gravediggaz and Wu-Tang solo projects: Round one

As each of the group's members embarked on solo careers, RZA continued to produce nearly everything Wu-Tang released during the period 1994-1996, producing in both the hip-hop producer sense (composing and arranging the instrumental tracks) and in the wider music producer sense (overseeing and directing the creative process as well as devising song concepts and structure in addition to being responsible for a recording's final sound). RZA's rule over the Clan at this time is described in 2004's Wu-Tang Manual book as "a dictatorship". Yet he still released a hit single of his own, in the form of Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance. The song was featured on the High School High soundtrack, and was released to coincide with the Wu-Tang clothing brand. It peaked at #60 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #6 on the Hot Rap Singles chart.[11]

1997: Wu-Tang Forever

This had already to some extent begun on Wu-Tang Forever, which for the first time featured RZA delegating a small number of beatmaking duties to other producers in the Wu-Tang camp, such as his proteges True Master and 4th Disciple who are known as the Wu-Elements, and Clan member Inspectah Deck.[12]

1998-1999: Gravediggaz and Wu-Tang solo projects: Round two

During the 1998-2000 period RZA ceased to produce every Wu-Tang solo album as he had done previously, but continued to contribute usually one or two songs on average to each record as well as receiving an Executive Producer credit.

2001-2004: Post The W solo projects

In 1999 the RZA moved into composing film scores. His first work, Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), earned praise; he also had a brief cameo in the film itself, as a fellow samurai wearing camouflage. The experience was positive and, as he noted during an interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, the work with traditional musicians gave him the desire to learn how to read and write music.[13]

2005present: Solo projects: Round three

He has also stated that the long-delayed The Cure album will now be his final solo album, for he will end his career as MC and move on with his movie directing career.[14]

Before signing with SRC Records in 2007, RZA was flooded with offers from Bad Boy Records, Aftermath Records, Interscope and Def Jam among others for the Wu-Tang Clan super-group.[15]

In 2007, he did the score of the Japanese anime Afro Samurai starring Samuel L. Jackson. He recently and quietly released an instrumental album entitled, The RZA-Instrumental Experience, and worked with Raekwon on his highly anticipated Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. Talks are on between System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian and RZA regarding a collaboration between the two artists called Achozen.[16] RZA has stated in an interview that he is involved in the project.[17]

He has also confirmed that he will be solely producing Liquid Swords II with GZA, which was tentatively due in Fall 2010,[18] but the status of the album has not been updated since the release date passed. RZA also worked with Kanye West on the latter's fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,[19] as well as Watch The Throne by Kanye and Jay-Z.

In a recent interview discussing the producer's new line of headphones, RZA revealed that he recently decided to clean out his beat machines of instrumentals he made for the Wu-Tang Clan that were never used; as a result, he has so far given away ten beats each to Nas, Busta Rhymes and Talib Kweli, as well as 20 beats for Kanye West, including the two that were used on the artist's most recent two albums.[20] Since early 2011, RZA has been producing UK artist Josh Osho's debut album.

RZA also contributed vocals to three songs on John Frusciante's 2012 EP Letur-Lefr and in 2013 he contributed vocals to one song on Kid Cudi's 2013 album Indicud. In August 2012 RZA founded a new record label Soul Temple Records with a distribution deal from RED Distribution. He recently appeared on Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris, contributing a verse on the track "Molasses".


RZA has also formed a musical alliance with System of a Down's Shavo Odadjian, Kinetic 9 and the Reverend William Burke from Chicago for the band Achozen. Music from Achozen also appears on the major motion picture, Babylon A.D., on which Achozen song "Deuces" is heard blaring at the introduction of the film. The four principal members feel that their unique sound is not only spiritual in nature, but a new genre of "heavy hip hop", not "rap-metal". Achozen's first live show was at the Key Club in LA on December 1, 2006. On Friday, November 13, 2009 the second Achozen track "Salute/Sacrifice" was released exclusively as a free download on Odadjian's online art district and networking site, Ursession from the upcoming Achozen debut album.[21] The Achozen album was anticipated to be released in mid-2010 [22] but no firm release date had been scheduled by the end of 2010.

Various Wu-recording labels

Since the early 1990s, several 'various Wu recording labels' were established. The earlier labels are believed to be dissolved. The connection that RZA had to these labels were unknown.

Other record labels were later founded in the early 2000s, and are still active in the present. Very little is known about these labels, other that the fact that RZA produces music on them. It is unknown if RZA is CEO, or has high position within these labels, considering that he was never known to have a CEO position of any recording label.

  • Wu-Tang Records
  • Razor Sharp Records
  • 36 Chambers Records and Wu Music Group
  • Protect Ya Neck Records
  • Wu-Tang International
  • Soul Temple Records


RZA's production technique, specifically the manner of chopping up and/or speeding or slowing soul samples to fit his beats, has been picked up by currently popular producers  most notably Kanye West and Just Blaze, the two main producers behind Roc-A-Fella Records. West's own take on RZA's style[23] briefly flooded the rap market with what was dubbed "chipmunk soul," the speeding of a vocal sample to where it sounded as though the singer had inhaled helium. Several producers at the time copied the style, creating other offshoots. West has admitted that his style was distinctly influenced by the RZA's production,[24]

Said by Kanye West:

In response, RZA himself has spoken quite positively of the comparisons:

His Bobby Digital albums introduced tweaked-out new age elements to his sound; these have incorporated themselves more fully into his beats on newer albums such as Method Man's 4:21... The Day After.

In a recent 2010 radio interview with UK hip hop station Conspiracy Worldwide Radio, RZA spoke in great detail about the homemade, candid ethos of much of his classic work, including the organic creation process behind ODB's debut album.[25]

Alter egos

RZA is known for having multiple aliases, for different lyrical styles and personalities: Prince Rakeem, The Abbot, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the Scientist, Prince Delight, Prince Dynamite, Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah.[26] During his time with the Gravediggaz, he went by the name the RZArector, which is for waking up the mentally dead.[27]

Film career


Originally, he was offered the role of "Brown" in The Departed (2006), but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts.[28]

He performed cameo roles in Funny People, Due Date, Gospel Hill, Ghost Dog, and Life Is Hot in Cracktown. He was also said to be attached to friend Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill project in one way or another, featuring as a solo artist on the soundtrack to Kill Bill: Volume 1 and selecting some other songs for the soundtrack. In 2010, RZA appeared in the science fiction action film Repo Men.[29]

RZA appeared in Derailed, "Coffee and Cigarettes" American Gangster.

RZA directed and played the role of the Blacksmith in The Man with the Iron Fists.

RZA appeared in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, as the character Blind Master.[30]

RZA played the role of Samurai Apocalypse in the television series "Californication" in 9 episodes.[31]

RZA played "Mr. L.C.", the main antagonist, in the martial arts film Tom Yum Goong 2.


In the late 90's RZA began production of a feature length film based on "Bobby Digital", an alias he used on various albums. Though the film was never completed, he continued shooting music videos for his side projects and solo tracks.

RZA directed his first feature film, The Man with the Iron Fists, in 2011, from a script he wrote the previous year. Directors Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth were involved in production, writing, and casting according to several movie Web sites.[32][32][33][34] The film was released in fall 2012. Eli Roth said:

RZA is also co-producing a remake of The Last Dragon, with Samuel L. Jackson assuming the role of Sho'nuff. John Davis of Davis Entertainment and Gordy's son Kerry Gordy, along with RZA are set to produce. Penning the screenplay as well as producing is Dallas Jackson, who heads up the urban family label DJ Classicz with Davis. Rihanna is rumored to appear in the movie as Laura Charles.[35][36]

Personal life

RZA is affiliated with the Nation of Gods and Earths and usually wears the NGE Universal Flag as a necklace. He is commonly seen and heard dealing with NGE culture (which include the Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet). He also has taken on various aspects of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Islam, and Christianity as stated in his book The Wu-Tang Manual which he talks about thoroughly in The Tao of Wu in order to expand his spiritual growth. He has gone on to state that Qur'an, The Bible, and Lotus Sutra are three of his favorite books, stating that each of the three contain enlightenment. One of his favorite hobbies consists of watching martial arts films, and he is considered to be an "encyclopedia of martial arts films", due to his vast knowledge of the genre.[34] His favorite movies include Five Deadly Venoms,[37] The 36th Chamber of Shaolin,[37] Ninja Scroll,[38] Fist of the North Star.[38] His second well-known hobby is chess, and he is a Director of Development and champion of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation.[39][40][41]

On children and domestic problems, RZA said:

Along with a number of members in the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA is vegetarian.[42]


In 2000, he made an appearance in Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. In 1999 he shot a self-financed film on his "Bobby Digital" persona. In the late '90s and early '00s, he began shooting his own music videos, including "Tragedy" and "Chi Kung". He had a cameo in the film Due Date. He also played the role of Det. Moses Jones in the film American Gangster in 2007. Eventually, in 2012, he released his feature debut, The Man with the Iron Fists.

Year Film Role Notes
1999 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai The RZA
2003 Coffee and Cigarettes RZA
2005 Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure Stake Video game voice over
2005 Derailed Winston Boyko
2007 American Gangster Moses Jones
2008 Gospel Hill Lonnie
2009 Afro Samurai DJ Voice over
2009 Funny People Chuck
2010 Repo Men T-Bone
2010 Due Date Airline Screening Marshall
2011 A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas Lamar
2012 Californication Samurai Apocalypse TV series (nine episodes)
2012 The Man with the Iron Fists Blacksmith Lead actor, director, and co-writer
2013 G.I. Joe: Retaliation Blind Master
2013 Tom Yum Goong 2 Mr. LC
2014 Brick Mansions Tramaine


Main article: Rza discography
  • Bobby Digital in Stereo (1998)
  • Digital Bullet (2001)
  • Birth of a Prince (2003)
  • Digi Snacks (2008)


  • The Wu-Tang Manual (2005)
  • The Tao of Wu (2009)


  1. RZA: Bio. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  2. The Rap Beat Creator: Make Your Own Beats!!!: The Source Magazine Picks 20 Greatest Producers. (2008-08-24). Retrieved on 2013-04-17.
  3. Dr. Dre Is VIBE's Greatest Producer Of All Time, Speaks On Win. Vibe (2010-06-01). Retrieved on 2013-04-17.
  5. RZA (2009). The Tao of Wu, New York: Riverhead Books.
  6. Lolley, Sarah (July 13, 2001). "Pittsburgh's underground hip-hop scene has helped produce key players like RZA and Mel-Man". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on April 5, 2008.
  7. Webb, Rory D. (April 10, 2013). "Wu-Tang's RZA found his second chance in Steubenville". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved on April 12, 2013.
  8. [1]
  11. Ankeny, Jason (1969-07-05). RZA. AllMusic. Retrieved on 2012-03-31.
  12. RZA says that he's been letting other producers into the Wu game because "they know how to create the sound now." Could that explain how stagnant Wu production has been lately?
  13. Rapper, Producer, Composer: The RZA : NPR Music
  14. Feature by Dave Kerr. (2008-04-08). RZArecting Bobby. The Skinny. Retrieved on 2012-03-31.
  15. Cilvaringz: Wu-Tang Report :: news articles at Wu-Tang Corp. The Official Site of the Wu-Tang Clan
  16. ACHOZEN LOS ANGELES, California Hip Hop / Experimental / Visual
  17. System Of A Tang? Shavo Collaborates With RZA, GZA News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
  18. Kuperstein, Slava (2010-04-28). RZA Confirms Liquid Swords 2 | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales. HipHopDX. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  19. March 23, 2010 3:30 p.m. by Andrew Martin (2010-03-23). 'Good Ass Job' Marks Kanye West's Return to 'Real' Hip-Hop. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  20. Interview: The RZA Talks Headphones, Hollywood, and Working On "Watch The Throne". Complex. Retrieved on 2012-04-24.
  21. "Free Achozen Song Released on Fri. the 13th"
  22. " Achozen"
  23. Why You Can't Ignore Kanye, Time, August 21, 2005. URL accessed on May 23, 2010.
  24. Gale Free Resources Black History Biographies Kanye West
  25. RZA's epic interview on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio
  26. The Wu-Tang Manual by The RZA with Chris Norris, ISBN 1-59448-018-4
  27. And to me, my names be flexin' personalities of myself: Prince Rakeem, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the RZA, the Rzarector These are personalities of myself. I'm able to realize that.
  28. RZA (I) Biography
  29. High Cost of Body Parts Got You Down? Join the Repo Men Union
  30. 'G.I. Joe': RZA Joining Sequel (Exclusive)
  32. 32.0 32.1 Brunton, Richard (2008-07-07). RZA's The Man with the Iron Fist. Filmstalker. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  33. Movies - Eli Roth On RZA's The Man With The Iron Fist. Retrieved on 2013-04-17.
  34. 34.0 34.1 Eli Roth Gives Chud The Scoop On RZA's Martial Arts Movie!. (2008-07-06). Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  35. Simmons, Leslie (2008-10-30). Samuel L. Jackson vs. the 'Dragon'. The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2008-11-02. Retrieved on 2008-10-30.
  36. Reid, Shaheem (2008-12-22). RZA Sets His Sights On Rihanna For Remake Of 'The Last Dragon,' Starring Samuel L. Jackson Movie News Story | MTV Movie News. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.
  37. 37.0 37.1 RZAs Edge: The RZAs Guide to Kung-Fu Films. Film Society of Lincoln Center. Retrieved on 2012-06-29.
  38. 38.0 38.1 The RZA Laying Down Afro Samurai's Beats. (2009-02-10). Retrieved on 2012-06-29.
  39. Rza Crowned Hip-Hop Chess Champ
  40. Where Hip-Hop, Martial Arts and Chess Meet The New York Times
  41. RZA currently the proud owner of a 20lb gold Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) belt
  42. Reskin, Lauren (2010-06-16). Meatless in Miami: Vegetarians in Popular Song Miami Restaurants and Dining Short Order. Retrieved on 2010-08-19.

External links

  • RZA at All Music Guide
  • RZA at the Internet Movie Database
This page was last modified 01.05.2014 21:51:20

This article uses material from the article Rza from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.