The RZA first exploded onto the scene with the dynamic first album by The Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The album was not only successful, but is also widely considered among the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. After that, the Wu-Tang legend spread throughout the hip-hop community as nearly every member released their own solo projects, many of which were produced by RZA himself. Wu-Tang would also occasionally reunite to release full blown Wu records, generally featuring all the members, at least whenever often troubled member Ol' Dirty Bastard was out on parole.

In the meantime, RZA has taken his career in a variety of directions. He's formed another rap supergroup called Gravediggaz and produced his own string of solo records, often under the moniker Bobby Digital. In recent years, RZA has transitioned into one of the top soundtrack producers. He first worked with Jim Jarmusch on Ghost Dog and recently completed work on Tarantino's Kill Bill. The martial arts-influenced Bill is right up RZA's alley, with a knowledge of the genre that could rival Tarantino himself. Yes, really.

The next soundtrack work for RZA includes the forthcoming films Soul Plane and Blade: Trinity. RZA also recently returned to work with Jim Jarmusch. Only this time, Jarmusch wanted RZA not for the soundtrack, but to act in one of his shorts for a film entitled Coffee and Cigarettes. Jarmusch based RZA's scene on a conversation he had overheard RZA having and decided to enlist fellow Wu-Tang member GZA and comedic genius Bill Murray as his co-stars. Not the typical combo by any stretch.

I was lucky enough to get the first interview with The RZA last week at the St. Regis hotel in Century City. Long a fan of RZA and Wu-Tang, I had a slew of questions ready for him. Cool as always, RZA saunters into the room wearing a black do rag and a jean shirt from the Wu clothing line.





IGN FILMFORCE: I've got a few Kill Bill questions for you before we talk about Coffee and Cigarettes.

THE RZA: (Laughs) They ain't gonna get mad, are they?

IGNFF: I think we'll be okay. Now that you've worked on and seen both volumes of Kill Bill, being a connoisseur of kung-fu, how do you think they stack up with the great kung-fu flicks, the Shaw brothers and stuff like that?

RZA: Against the Shaw brothers, they definitely stack up well. They should be added to the top 20 collection. But, for an American-produced martial arts film, to me it's in the top five, you know what I mean? [It's] up there with Enter the Dragon. In fact, maybe since Enter the Dragon, there hasn't really been a real American... They've got The Matrix, you could consider that a martial arts [film] in a way, but there was sci-fi in Matrix, a lot of CGI. This was really rough action, not too many wires, not too much. Just raw talent. I've said it before, I'd say Kill Bill goes in the top 20 in history. From an American producer, it goes in the top five.

IGNFF: Tarantino has recently talked about editing the film into one single movie for festivals. Will you do any additional scoring for that?

RZA: Well, Quentin has a lot of [my] stuff on film, so he could just grab anything. He also has so much music, that we really went into the library of what we were gonna use, and maybe we used 10 percent. So, he has a lot to play with. And also, he has so much musical talent and an ear [for the music] to his films, that, you know, there's nothing to lose.

IGNFF: Did you ever talk to Quentin about being in Kill Bill or would you want to be in a sequel?

RZA: Well, maybe if he do a sequel, maybe I'll jump in. But, no, I was actually on the set for over 60 days, but I never even thought about getting in front of the camera. Behind the camera, I looked through the lens... I came on the set, first and foremost, I asked Quentin could he mentor me? You know, I want be a director, can I be eyes? And he was like, 'You'll be on it.'

IGNFF: What's a Tarantino set like? Chaotic?

RZA: Naw. He's the master of his set. And everybody that's there works extra hard for him. And that's where I learned one thing about being a director. You've got to have respect of your peers and the people who work for you, underneath you. Because, if it went over, nobody minded. They got to a point where they was 20, 30 days over, you know, these people want to go home too. Even though they're making money, it's like, they have a life. I spent some nights on the roof, we were talking to some of the guys that work, we be kickin' it, and they were like, 'Man, this is really a lot.' They were there, at nine o' clock in the morning; they up, they work and do a great job. I learned from Quentin, he has a certain respect and love for the cast and crew. Great people and I learned a lot from that.

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