Where it all Started
The RZA (pronounced "rizza"; also known as Robert "the Razor" Diggs) is best known for his mastery of rap beats. He is considered one of the best rap producers in the business, and is mostly to blame for the success of the Wu Dynasty. At the beginning of his career he started out with his two cousins, Gary Grice (GZA/Genius) and Russell Jones (Ol’ Dirty Bastard/ODB) just making demo tapes, trying to break through. They eventually formed a group called All in Together Now. They released a single by the same name but nothing much else. They soon broke up the band and went on to a less than successful solo career. This is when the three of them decided enough was enough, and to form a serious group, of which RZA would be the De Facto leader of; Wu Tang.
Each member had their own unique name, most of which were derived from some sort of kung fu movie. RZA got his from the sound made when you scratch a vinyl record with the word razor playing. The word razor is chosen because he believes his beats are razor sharp. Other members include GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspecta Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Masta Killa. With the group together, the RZA explains to them that, if given full control, he will turn the Wu Tang into a Wu Dynasty. From this point on the RZA is to control every aspect of the group’s music, from producing every beat, to song derivation, of both the collective albums as well as each member’s solo albums. This ended up being the best possible thing to have happened for the Wu Tang, being under the RZA’s control turned a small underground group, to a national phenomenon that would bring back the east coast’s hip hop scene. After the album “Wu Tang Forever” the RZA would release his control over the group, as well as their solo albums. From here on out he would explore more and more different styles of beat creation that he had already begun to show in the solo album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx….” by Raekwon. In which he showed more use of String instruments for an overall more cinematic, orchestral beat.
The RZA, along with the other Wu Tang members, has had a successful solo career outside of the Wu Tang as well. He has released 5 solo albums, two of which have gone gold (bobby digital in stereo and digital bullet). He has also created another alias for himself in his solo albums, Bobby Digital. With this alias he creates an imaginary character named Bobby Digital, which he fleshes out more with each album. He ended up meeting Quentin Tarantino, and after they clicked due to a shared interest in kung-fu movies, the RZA produced the soundtrack for Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1.
Throughout his carreer as well as the Wu Tang as a whole, has had a lot of influence from old fashioned kung fu movies. The name for the group itself comes from “Legend of the Wu Tang vs. Shaolin” in which the Wu Tang Sword style is said to be invincible, much like the lyrics and beats of the group. The name for their first album (Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) comes from the movie “Enter the 36 Chamber of Shaolin”. To this day RZA claims he still watches Kung Fu almost every day of the week, “…To this day, at least four times a week, a kung fu flick is in my DVD player. And I’m still DJing, making beats, making songs, and fucking with kung fu movies. I’m still the same kid when it comes to those things.”
From time to time Wu Tang members will mention video games in their lyrics, but not much else have they derived from video games. Not only were they a bit early to grow up with video games, but they grew up in the Bronx, so they never really had spare money for the arcades, and what money they did have went to seeing Kung Fu flicks at a local cinema. None the less their impact in the hip hop genre lead to a game being created surrounding the idea of the Wu Tang Clan. Entitled “Wu Tang: Shaolin Style”, it was a fighting game featuring all aforementioned Clan members, each with their own fighting style and weapon. The game met mild success as a game, but it could be argued that the game paved the way for games such as the Def Jam series, another Hip Hop fighting game that even features a couple members of the Wu Tang Clan (Ghostface Killah, and Method Man).