Hip hop legend talks music, film and life lessons

At Center Stage Atlanta RZA discussed his new film and directorial debut, “The Man with the Iron Fists.” Against the dim-lit backdrop of a barroom lounge, RZA talks about learning the ropes, hashing out a plan and making cinematic art.


Mike Eden | The Signal
RZA spoke to a small group of people about his upcoming film, “The Man with the Iron Fists,” in Atlanta at Center Stage on Oct. 10.

Taking notes from the masters

If I would have to say I belong to any school of filmmaking, I belong to the School of Tarantino. I spent a lot of time with him watching films, talking to him about films, picking his brain. I picked up so much from him that I could write a book. One of my greatest moments on the film was when Quentin was sitting there right with me.. in China. I had just finished doing this thing with Russell and Daniel [actors in the movie], and I had come back to watch the monitor, and Quentin leaned over to me and was like, ‘If you remember while you were in Beijing, taking notes on Kill Bill- well now we’re back in China, years later, and the student has become a master.’ I felt good. He was right. And it took a lot of perseverance, patience, tolerance, willpower, and determination to do this movie.

On personal expression

[Filmmaking] was a natural progression of fulfillment, of art, of creativity, that I wanted to express. I wanted to take hip hop… to another level. To not just a level where we can hear it, but we can actually go to the biggest medium possible – a 70-foot screen, in a big room with speakers everywhere, and you could see it and hear it, touch it and feel it.

Useful advice

Many people enter the path but few prepare themselves for the path. For the youth, the most important thing is preparation. You can multitask, you can have five things that you want to do; but you probably won’t be able to do five things at one time. When people do construction, they build layer after layer, room by room, knowing that at the end it’s going to be a full design.

Study. Know before you do, don’t do before you know. If you know, then the result is already understood by you.

Carrying the legacy

One generation inspires another. In the soundtrack to the movie, I was able to get people like Kanye West as well as Wu Tang and a whole slew of others to put all their energy together all on one project. I’ve always been an artist that likes to share the energy and share the wisdom and keep the culture moving. This movie project is part of that.

RZA began making hip hop in New York as a young man, only to form one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time: the Wu Tang Clan. Since the nineties, RZA has produced many other hip hop artists such as Old Dirty Bastard under his own record label. He has also designed his own clothing line, written two books on spirituality, and produced original music for film soundtracks. His directorial debut: “The Man With the Iron Fists,” premieres in theaters Nov. 2.