Urbanworld partners with Hulu, spotlighting season two of Wu-Tang: An American Saga with the creator, Executive Producer and original Wu-Tang Clan member, RZA, along with key cast members. Host, AllHipHop.com’s Chuck Creekmur digs into the crates with the actors and RZA to learn more and explore the music that inspired everything.
Featured Guests: RZA, Executive Producer, & Cast Members Ericka Alexander, Shameik Moore, TJ Atoms, Zolee Griggs
Moderator: Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur (Founder, AllHipHop.com)
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Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: Definitely. So I’m a fan of Wu-Tang already, as you all probably know. At the original premier, I was in heaven, it was crazy. Let’s talk about this season and how these characters are evolving. So, RZA, I want you to talk about it first and then let each individual cast member talk about their character and how they’ve changed a little bit since season one.
RZA: Well, thanks for doing this. In Season 2, you’ll see us – the Wu-Tang Clan – really form and create their album 36 Chambers. The journey that these characters are going through is relevant to young people of any generation. I think this cast – the way they absorbed the material and digested it back in front of the camera – is amazing. Making a TV show is very difficult, but we also did it in the midst of COVID-19, a pandemic. People had to quarantine before they come to set and all these different things. And I have a strong cast and a strong group of people who are willing to overcome challenges. This cast done that.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: How has Linda Diggs, Bobby’s mother (RZA) evolved and how has the mother/son relationship evolved.
Erika Alexander: I think the mother’s consistent. That she evolved as the mother, that Linda Diggs is consistent to her children…to her child. That she sees him as people that need to be uniquely protected because I think she sees the whole of who Bobby Diggs is. He is an artist, he’s sensitive, he has strengthened powers that are beyond understanding, and she sees that he needs protection. He’s in the basement creating and created a safe space for them to have stability and to bring their friends and to have a place for them to try out things and experiment. Where she’s a consistent mother is that she also has a point of view that if he does not change his ways, that he will go down the hard way. She says that to Bobby, but the whole time trying to create a way for him to come back from a dark place.
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I think that her being a light, but also sort of… not sort of, but telling him the truth and not sugarcoating it is important because if you have any awareness of strong men and especially strong black men you know they’re going to go their own way. You have to allow them to have that space to make mistakes, but you don’t want to have them make the mistake of doing something that they can’t come back from. She’s afraid of that like any mother. She’s moved to Cleveland and to Ohio, and she’s going on to her old life, but her problem followed her there because if any of her children are in trouble she’s involved. So she’s very much involved in their children’s life, but she’s also telling him that he must make a decision. He has a path, and he can either go down the way that she believes that he’s born to do, his destiny, or he can choose to join everyone else, which is a dark way to go.
RZA: So let me comment on that real quick, Chuck.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: Okay.
RZA: Watching the show as a viewer…well, with my family and sitting there, my father missed that part of my life, right? He’s now going on 78, 79 years old. When the second episode hit, something happened in my household, that was really good for…(us). When Erika delivered the line (as his TV mother Linda Diggs) that she heard Confucius saying, “Everyone has two lives but the second life begans when you realize that you only have one life.” The whole room, just kind of just dropped like everybody’s light bulb went off. Even my stepmother, she did one of those church things. She was like, “Mmm-hmm (affirmative),” like it was gospel. To me, that’s one of the beautiful things about the (Linda Diggs) character… Mothers know where kids are going, but they always there to protect them and it’s always that moment with them that hits you with that spoon full of wisdom. That’s universal. That hopefully will change the child. And for me… I thought I had to jump in and say that. So I passed the mic back.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: TJ, I’ve always sung your raves in the last season, but this season we see Ason or the ODB character gets get some adversity. I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, I didn’t know this stuff was happening.” How was it for you as the person that has to deliver that to people that may have never seen them before for the Ol’ Dirty (Asun) character that actually gets hands put on them and stuff?
TJ Atoms: I ain’t going to lie though when I was reading (the script), I’m like, “Nah!” I was literally like, “Yo! I know they not about to do me like this.” But I heard that’s a true story. It was dope like really portraying [Asun’s hard times]. I heard that ODB really took a shotgun out of somebody’s hand and that actually really happened. But at first, I was like, I wasn’t feeling it, man. I was not fixing to get hands put on me. Now, everybody’s talking about it. My dad even said like, yo, he told my brother to watch over me because I got beat up in the show. I’m like, come on man. No cap.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: How about you, Zolee? You play Shurrie, who is Dennis’s (young Ghostface Killah) girlfriend. Now this… I’ve noticed the Black woman is very powerful in this show and it’s not almost explicitly stated because we’re all focusing on the Wu-Tang, but can you speak on her role as that backbone?
Zolee Griggs: Of course. Shurrie knows that she has a lot of responsibilities, whether it’s trying to make her mom proud, but staying true to herself, taking care of her brothers. But also trying to figure out her own life and where she wants to go with it. I think she’s so engulfed in her love life with Dennis (Ghostface), because she does want to be with him and her responsibilities are even greater now that she has a child with him. But she’s still trying to navigate herself in her womanhood and figuring out like, “Okay, I support him in his endeavors, but what do I want to do?” So that’s kind of what she balances in this season is figuring out her own life path while also taking all the responsibilities as a new mother in these crazy circumstances with her baby father like they’ve endured some crazy stuff.
I’m really excited for this season because there are a handful of new women that you see as a backbone and just… that the men get to come home to, or get to confide in. So you’ll see some of those ladies later on, and then you already saw Mecca (Bobby/RZA’s girlfriend) from the first couple of episodes and even to see Bobby with a partner. And seeing him happy and just kind of a vulnerable side has been really nice. So yeah, it’s good to see the ladies.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: Shameik, You play the Raekwon character or Corey Woods. He’s difficult in this season. I got a little frustrated with him. I’m like, “Look, we got to get this Wu-Tang thing… Let’s get it going!” How does your character evolve?
Shameik Moore: I think what you see is what you get, my brother, you know what I’m saying? I think the evolution is coming from really being focused on just getting money. I mean, we still… I’m still focused on getting money, but now it’s… I’m going to try my best, not to keep cooking. You know what I’m saying? I’m going to… I’m going to cook up in the studio instead and that’s what it is. Now I’ve got my man’s Bobby, he out of jail or he back, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t even know he was here. I’m finding out from my homie, I’m finding myself and whatnot and it’s all just coming together. You know what I’m saying? Either way, at the point we are in the story now, is just like, I’m going to do this regardless. So, and I think that’s, the evolution is getting over that hump with Ghost and that’s pretty much… It’s time to make some money.
Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur: Yeah. I love how the intersections exist in this show. There’s obviously numerous family intersections, but then the music you really get a sense of what was going on at that time. I don’t want to spoil it, but you for example, pop in the studio with a legendary producer. RZA for you… How important was it for you to highlight those influences like EPMD and the Hit Squad or those other people that impacted the Wu-Tang Clan?
RZA: In Season 1, we showed how I came to the Park Villa with Erick Sermon and EPMD. Basically, they came to Staten Island. They actually ended up hanging out and never forget Erick was telling me and telling Rae that we had something special. But, [in season 2, we highlight] not just what’s happening in New York, you hear a lot of West Coast beats dropping, you know what I mean? Ice Cube, Snoop, Dre… Because Hip-Hop was making this growth everywhere. But it just felt like New York was being left behind and somebody needed to bring that energy back from New York, which we considered the Mecca of Hip-Hop.
Leaders of the New School, Tribe Called Quest, all combined together [for “Scenario”]. That idea usually happened on a track or on somebody’s album or some remix, right? But what if the whole community can make music like that continuously? I think the show is trying to show that Wu-Tang looked at what was happening around us and realized that our story deserves to be up here in the Pantheon of Hip-Hop history.