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RZA Talks About How His Collaboration with Kanye West Came About

November 12, 2012 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

RZA recently spoke with Billboard about his directing work on The Man With the Iron Fists, working with Kanye West for a song on the soundtrack and more. Check out the highlights:

On the biggest difference between producing an album and directing a film: “The amassment of work and people. It’s hard work to make an album, but there’s maybe 12 people that help. For a film, you’re talking about a cast and crew of 400-600 people. Doing music videos is one thing-maybe two days to prepare. This is more like 100 days of preparation, 60 days of filming, another 100 days of editing. This thing took a lot of time.”

On what he was able to do with effects and fights that wasn’t possible during the “golden era of kung-fu films”: “Well, take a movie like “Five Deadly Venoms.” You’ve got the Toad, where you couldn’t penetrate his skin, and you had to find his weak spot. In today’s technology, we could take an idea like that and make brass bodies. A guy who’s able to channel his chi and turn his whole body to solid metal. We got the actor to act it all out, and then took a CGI copy of his body and made it brass.”

On how Kanye West’s “White Dress” ended up on the soundtrack: “Kanye is a great artist. I had a chance to work with him on [his ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’] and [West and Jay-Z’s] ‘Watch the Throne.’ When I got back from [filming in] China, I was in my editing room and I reached out to him to come look at a scene and potentially give me a song for the score and soundtrack. He came through, dug what he saw and wrote this song for us. He killed it.”

On what new MCs he has his eye on: “Joey Bada$$ is representing good. A$AP and them, I love that crew. Meek Mill and Wale. Kendrick Lamar and his folks. It took time, but now my generation can say, “OK, we’ve got some talent in the driver’s seat. Hip-hop will go on.” The only thing they need is consciousness. We all like to party. But at the same time you want some imagery out there representing social consciousness and awareness. My generation had that balance. Now we could use some of that.”

On whether he’s planning to write more books: “Yeah, I’m already working on it, putting down some beautiful ideas. Sometimes a man is shy to expose his life. But I realize my life sometimes helps other brothers escape hell. Reading about Jesus — not comparing myself to Jesus — but reading the Good Book and of men of history, we see them make it through challenging times. It helps us when we face these odds. The master always leaves clear footprints, and I’m trying to leave some footprints for these kids so they can say, ‘Hold on, man, I know which way to go.'”

On whether he would be interested in being an executive of a major label: “I haven’t been approached by anyone. I’m really comfortable with filmmaking. A director’s an executive: He’s got to have his hands on music, he has to know how to control talent-all these things that I did as a producer I can do as a director and more. I don’t just do things for myself, honestly. I want brothers who come from my hood and any urban area to realize, it’s many paths we can take. And I’m proving that as one man-imagine what they could do.”

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Jeremy Thomas
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