Wu-Tang Clan's RZA Talks 'Cut Throat City' And Plays 'Is It A Lizard?'
Hip-hop artist, actor and director - RZA does it all. Robert Fitzgerald Diggs knew he wanted to work with music starting when he was 9 years old and first heard hip-hop at a block party.
At that same time, he was developing a love of kung fu movies, and named Wu-Tang Clan after the film Shaolin and Wu-Tang. Those same films became his influence when he started making movies of his own.
His latest film, Cut Throat City, tells the story of four childhood friends who are forced into committing crime to survive in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to his many roles in the movie industry, he launched his own platform earlier this year called 36 Cinema, where he streams classic kung fu movies and provides live commentary.
In his Ask Me Another challenge, RZA plays a game called "Is it a Lizard?" Ophira and Jonathan describe an animal, then RZA answers the question: "Is it a lizard?"
On creating the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga :
'We're taking truth, and we are getting a chance to play with it, expound upon it, and also set it in unique settings. I think what we strive to do with this particular show is tell the story the same way that Wu-Tang music told the story. And, if you listen to Wu-Tang music and you hear the Kung Fu samples, or you hear the lyric, 'I bomb atomically, Socrates' philosophies/ And hypotheses can't define how I be droppin' these/ Mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery,' that's a lot of images into a lyric. So, through the show, we would say, 'Well, we could play with martial arts, we could play with animation, we could play with- Socrates could appear, in our show, in our reality,' if we wanted to view something to continue to tell the story.'
On directing a heist movie that takes place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina:
'Hurricane Katrina was a national tragedy 15 years ago. It really devastated New Orleans, and especially the Black community got the short end of the stick. And when I first read the screenplay by Paul [Cuschieri]... what resonated with me was the story of the four men, the four young men. And not the crime aspect of it, the point of the matter that they were not criminals. And so that part related to me because that's in almost every community. That happened to me in my community. The chances of aspirations turning to desperation was a common denominator for the Black community and for impoverished communities.'
On writing a new jingle for Good Humor's ice cream trucks:
'Let me give Good Humor the credit, because 'Turkey in the Straw,' was a jingle that was in most of our ice cream trucks. Originally it was an Irish folk song that made its way to America, but in the case of 'Turkey in the Straw,' [Americans] took it and they made it derogative, and they made it a racial slur, comment, and mockery of Black men and women in America. And [Good Humor] discovered the history of it, and they said let's do something about it. And they reached out to me, and the idea was like, look, we can't change history, right? We can fix it.'
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.