Game Changers is an HNHH feature that profiles artists who've left a strong mark on hip hop. Whether it be through creativity, influence, exposure or simply good timing, they've brought something to rap music that the game just wouldn't be the same without. This week, we've chosen to profile an inarguable game changer: RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan.
"RZA is different from the others. His spirit drives his actions and those actions change the world."
-Sifu Shi Yan Ming, 34th Generation Shaolin Warrior Monk / Founder & Abbott of the USA Shaolin Temple
Seeing as the Wu-Tang Clan's 20th anniversary is approaching, we've decided to look back on the accomplishments of the Abbot. With a career spanning two decades, a complete retrospective would've been too much, so we've instead broken down some of the major moments throughout RZA's career. Although he doesn't have a perfect track record (there has been tension within the Clan over the years), we've chosen to focus on the good here, not the bad or the ugly.
Robert F. Diggs changed hip hop forever when he assembled the Wu-Tang Clan. Their influence over the past twenty years is undeniable and resounding. Under his direction, they birthed and popularized an original new slang, style and sound influenced both by project life and various Eastern philosophies, physical and mental. They started a movement and swarmed the industry.
As a solo artist, RZA has put out four studio albums, as well as a debut EP under the moniker Prince Rakeem. He's released three albums and an EP with horrorcore pioneers the Gravediggaz. He's helmed every major Wu-Tang record and contributed to dozens of official member and affiliate solo projects, not to mention producing for and collaborating with many artists outside of the family as well.
Other than his musical catalogue, he's authored two non-fiction books, The Wu-Tang Manual and the Tao of Wu, and has been depicted in official Wu-Tang comic books and a martial arts game for the original Playstation. He co-founded the Wu Wear clothing line that's seen phases of great success. He's contributed to film and television scores, and has been known to appear on the big screen every now and then as well.
And the list goes on. RZA undoubtedly changed the rap game for the better, forever. He helped shape it, and continues to do so to this day. So stay tuned - although fans are [warily] hopeful for a collective Wu project in the near future, we're not worried about Bobby's individual output. He just doesn't stop.
Read on for a breakdown of Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah's influence as the abbot of the Wu-Tang Clan.