Wu-Tang Clan: A tête-à-tête with GZA the genius

By Jamie Goyman
Photo retrieved from Wu-Tang Clan Facebook page

Photo retrieved from Wu-Tang Clan Facebook page

VANCOUVER — Not only were they a fresh change to hip hop in the early ‘90s from a music standpoint, but from a business & financial outlook they were designed to succeed as a group, absolutely – at first, but the overall and ideal goal for the nine MCs was to swarm the industry and hold mass success independently as well. It’s safe to say that is exactly what happened: an artistic and financial community known as the Wu-Tang Clan, a slow starting crescendo that 20 years later still hasn’t lost its momentum.

2014 is eagerly anticipating the upcoming release of A Better Tomorrow, with all remaining members said to be coming through on the album, recently the new single “Keep Watch” has made its debut where amidst the soulful chorus and backdrop still lies that gritty hard style Wu-Tang always carried through. “When it comes to the album RZA [took the lead] on that one…I really wasn’t in on much of the planning on that end,” said GZA regarding the album release. “I came into the studio and did my part, that’s it.” From the get-go RZA has been taking the lead with the new 20th Anniversary Wu-Tang album along with the ongoing project Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the idea here being that only one album will be made which will then tour the world’s art museum/galleries; a nice and upfront reminder that music is on the same level as the highly-regarded visual arts and can be treated as so. When it comes to this album in particular, things have been kept pretty quiet, almost muted, with the importance of timing being emphasized. Whether people agree or not with the route chosen with a single album release the anticipation for the semi secret work of art is upbeat, to say the least, and has people reacting and talking.

As a founding member of Wu-Tang Clan and countless solo albums the success GZA has seen, along with the opportunities he has been given, is invaluable to say the least. As a group they flourished, and during their solo work success seems to follow, when this group get their hands on something they take it and make it their own. “I’ve gained fame, a bit of fortune, respect, and popularity in a mainstream sense with Wu, maybe a little mediocre as a solo,” laughs GZA. “You know, I’m not really that artist, I’m laid back and put out albums every year… It’s fun to be respected and noticed, not in the sense of I can’t go anywhere and cameras are everywhere like that, but when someone comes up and thanks you and says your work is amazing is a good thing, you know. It’s inspirational as well, inspiration and motivation to keep doing what you’re doing.”

Going off of that incentive GZA has been keeping busy with his solo album Dark Matter, which displays his ability to take intellectual conversation and give it a place in hip hop; in addition to his album GZA has been working with Christopher Emdin (Columbia University) creating the program, Science Genius, which is meant to enrich kids in the sciences. “The interesting thing about science, aside from its technological relevance, it’s a way of understanding yourself and your surroundings. It’s a tool to improve the quality of life…It’s a way to encourage artists to be creative with their writing. Not only does it help kids open themselves up to more things but it would be improving rap in a sense. If you have all these young kids putting intellectual lyrics into rap, it helps rap grow on a mature level. It’s a way of not only expanding music but also just expanding your own mind when you push the lyrical aspect of hip hop.”

The next few months for Wu-Tang is packed full of all the niceties that go along with their deserved success, “working, recording, touring, writing and hip hop, that’s it really.”

Wu-Tang Clan are set to come to Vancouver at The Orpheum Theatre June 28th.

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