RZA: Breaks Down the Ghostface Killah Lawsuit

Last week, AllHipHop.com reported that Ghostface Killah had won a legal judgment against the RZA’s Wu-Tang Productions for over $158,000 in unpaid royalties. The dispute centered around Ghost’s claim that royalties from the Wu’s early albums should have been divided as a “promotional share” amongst group members, instead of the 50% split given to the […]

Last week, AllHipHop.com reported that Ghostface Killah had won a legal judgment against the RZA’s Wu-Tang Productions for over $158,000 in unpaid royalties. The dispute centered around Ghost’s claim that royalties from the Wu’s early albums should have been divided as a “promotional share” amongst group members, instead of the 50% split given to the producer (The RZA). Dogged by similar lawsuits over the decade by other Wu members, the RZA reached out to not only set the record straight from his side, but to also enlist the opinion of you, the AllHipHop readers, on this combustible issue. Whose stance do you side with? Hear out the Abbott and decide.


The case between Ghost and RZA is not closed yet. The judgment has not been entered yet, and we are appealing the case. I’m not appealing because I don’t want to pay Ghost something that I owe him. Anything I owe him I would give him. He wouldn’t have to go through the courts to get it from me.


An example is on Cuban Linx I didn’t charge no money on Raekwon for that. The last beats I did for Ghost was “Run” and some other sh*t, and it was the same thing.  I waived payments for later. They haven’t paid me for those. So it’s not about me getting money. But he’s with a group of people who to me have a misunderstanding of Hip-Hop and contracts.


I have a legal contract with Wu-Tang Productions, matter of fact all of us do for 50% of what we get. We all signed that. We signed that years ago and maybe Ghost feels differently now, and I can respect that. But when it comes to the beats of Hip-Hop, how it carries on to this day is that the producer gets 50% of the composition, and the lyricist, no matter how many, gets the other 50%. So for them to say that’s wrong, and the producer shouldn’t get 50%, that means every producer is this industry can now have a potential claim against them from an artist. Remember, we don’t sign contracts in studios. So when Erick Sermon produced on The Blackout, he got 50%. When Megahertz produced “We Pop” for me, it’s me and four other rappers. Megahertz got 50%, and me and the other rappers had to split the rest of it.


Now if there’s an unknown producer that I’m using and I’m trying to break him in, I may lower his cut if I got Meth and GZA on there. Like “yo, you’ll have to fall back on some of that s### because we’re going to ship 500,000 units and that’s where you’ll make money.” Those types of cases I could see it being different. But 90% of the cases in the game the producer gets 50% and the lyricist gets 50%. And on Ghost’s new album it’s going to be the same case. So for me to be in court and the argument is my split is wrong and has been over the years [is crazy]. They added up the years and said “if you would have given him the portion due it would be $158,000.”


They’ve made millions based on my beats and bringing forth the reality of the Wu-Tang Clan. If I wasn’t the producer and it was just a contract thing, maybe I’d feel more compassion.  But trust me, when it comes to doing these records, I’m in the studio hundreds of days where they’re here for 20-30 days. I’m in mastering, everywhere. The beat is made before you even get to the studio 80% of the time. The beats are made on my own time then brought to the studio, tracked down with me and the engineer, and then you’re brought in to do your 16 bars. [laughs] Then I EQ your s###! When you look at all those albums it don’t just say “Produced by the RZA.” It says “Produced and Arranged by the RZA.” Some people thought I was lying when I said that. I work the boards; I’m a genius at all that s###.


Ghost made a deal with someone who thought they should get more from him than what they’ve got. So they’re trying to infringe on the Wu-Tang brand. Ghost’s catalogue is his catalogue, and now they want to try to get into our catalogue. They’re trying through him. So because these n##### are telling you “yo, you should’ve gotten this,” you’re going to listen to them after all the years we’ve been together? That’s improper.


I’m only appealing it ain’t right for no producer in our business to have to potentially go through this. It’s been like this for over 100 years where the producer gets 50%.Now with some rock songs it’s 33%. One person will get it for the basic harmony, one person will get it for the melody line, and one for the lyrics. because in those days a songwriter could write a song like “Memories” and he’ll write but not the music to it. Then he’ll get it to another guy who makes the melody line, and then he’ll give it someone who comes with the harmonies. Hip-Hop don’t work like that. It’s just the beat and a rap.


I’d like to get the opinion of your readers. If the RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan produced all the beats and taken 50% for beat production, do you think it’s fair that the producer get 50%? If you don’t think it’s fair and you agree with Ghost, do you think all producers who work with Ghost outside of Wu-Tang should get 50%? That’s basically the argument here. Every producer outside of the RZA that’s worked with him has gotten 50%. The only one being challenged here is me. I’m not being challenged because I didn’t do the work. I’m being challenged because I get pressure on somebody coming at him trying to get into my business. Ghost knows this as actual fact that all he do is throw his rhymes in.



Like I said to Ghost I can name 2 songs out of everything we did that he can say was his idea. And even when he came with the idea, I had to make it happen. “All I Got Is You,” you loved that song and always wanted to sample it. I sampled and looped it together, and I got Mary to come in for the hook. I did everything a producer would do. And the second song was the one from that movie, uh-oh-ah! [Writer’s Note: Vocal sample from “Cornbread, Earl, and Me” used to create Ironman’s “Black Jesus.”]. You said how can we sample it, and I figured out a way to do it. And I threw the drums on it, and broke it down to what it was. Those are the only two! And it’s not in dispute. Songs like “Bring Da Ruckus” I made 2 years before they even rapped on it. Songs like “Can It Be So Simple” anybody could have got on that. It had the hook, beat, and the lift from the beginning. They threw their verses on it.


Me as the producer I sit in the house all day and make beats. And I put hooks on a lot of mine by sampling the vocal hooks. So for them to say differently really offends me and I’m sure it offends all producers. So again, is it right for RZA to receive less than 50% when every other producer for Ghostface has received 50% for every beat he’s made from him: from Pete Rock to every unknown n#### producing for him that’s using my sound. What’s so bad is their using my sound getting 50% and here I am the inventor of the sound getting scrutinized. I’d love to see the answers we’ll get on this. I know it’s a lot, but that’s what it is.