RZA talks to Examiner.com about ‘Victory or Death’ - RZA Interview

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RZA at work on a draft of 'Victory or Death' (Photo/King Tech)

Wu-Tang Clan leader and cultural tastemaker, RZA, set the art and hip-hop worlds abuzz last month with his newest creation Victory or Death. The man also known as Bobby Digital, posed as our nation’s first President in a visual remix of Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 creation, Washington Crossing the Delaware.

Last week, hip-hop writer and public relations professional, James Dunn, held a virtual press-conference at RZA’s L.A. residence where he shared questions from hip-hop writers across the country to hear what the emcee turned artist had to say.

Read more for his answers for Examiner.com.





Victory or Death (Photo/whenartimitateslife.com)

Shannon Barbour: What was the inspiration for this piece?

RZA: I wanted to do something unique. I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee, so we thought of doing something related to him. You know, Wu-Tang, martial arts, Bruce Lee… makes sense. But at the same time, Wu-Tang is a pioneer of hip-hop. Wu-Tang started a revolution of music and ideas that wasn’t involved in music prior to us. And George Washington, the first American president, he started a whole new world. He had to fight for that. He had to go through a struggle for that. Victory or death was his struggle. And I felt like I had that same struggle.

S.B.: How did you meet up with the “When Art Imitates Life” collective?

RZA: Tech’s a famous deejay and I’m a famous emcee. I met Tech years ago, 1993 or 1994, doing the radio station circuit back when the Wake Up Show was in the Bay Area. Tech and Sway have always been good dudes, good energy, they represent hip-hop, they represent their area good. A few years later, after they brought the show down here to LA, I happened to be renting some apartments out here, I brought the whole Wu-Tang out here to do Wu-Tang Forever. We had like ten apartments. I would see Tech a lot, and we did a couple of concerts that the Wake Up Show sponsored. I kinda fell in love with LA around ’98, and I started being a guest DJ on the Wake Up Show, coming up every weekend, spinning for maybe an hour, doing my own little set, having fun, doing interviews. So we became friends and we remain friends. My buddy King Tech was talking to me about these paintings he was doing with other artists, and he asked me if I’d like to be involved with it and do something unique. I always like doing things unique. Tech is family; every time we do something together it’s always good.

S.B.: Can we expect more multimedia/art projects from you in the future?

RZA: I don’t know, really. But I would like to make a comment that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fine art could be to you, worth a penny, to me, worth a million dollars, man.

RZA also had some comical anecdotes to share about preparing for the photoshoot from which the art was created.

You can purchase a copy of Victory or Death here.

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