The RZA: Do the Knowledge (Tao of the Wu), Part 2

In part 1 of RZA’s exclusive discussion with, the Abbott laid out his thoughts on religion, spirituality, and his new philosophical book The Tao of the Wu. Here, he discusses publicly for the first time intimate details on the tragic passing of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Also, the RZA opens up about how his mother’s […]

In part 1 of RZA’s exclusive discussion with, the Abbott laid out his thoughts on religion, spirituality, and his new philosophical book The Tao of the Wu. Here, he discusses publicly for the first time intimate details on the tragic passing of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Also, the RZA opens up about how his mother’s words saved him, overcoming fears of marraige, and his greatest achievements. For years none of the Clan would talk about Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s passing because it was so painful. What finally made you comfortable putting it out there in the book?


RZA: His son is old enough now, and his son was there. His nuclear children are old enough to understand. That would have been a problem [before]. Second reason was the truth will always have its time. The truth out of season bears no fruit. Now it’s time. It’s 5 years later, we can speak on that and shed light to it. And it took a lot of time for me to really understand it too. I replayed that day in my head over and over looking for everything. I looked for the science, the chemistry, God, and every cause and effect that lead to that death, yo!



A year and half later Flava Flav told me a story that helped me clear my mind, because I was really puzzled about how it happened. My cousin Mario who I hadn’t seen in 4 years was coming to meet me at the studio because he wanted some money for his school tuition. And I exiled that cousin because he had stole my gun 4 years earlier. I didn’t want to f**k with him but I finally gave in. He comes on his own and right before I left I started to tell everybody don’t let nobody in. That’s what I meant to say.


Dirty was right near the elevator and I told him I’d see him in about two hours. And I left. And something in my mind said call the studio and tell them not to let nobody in. I didn’t want Mario stealing no s**t, but I didn’t make the call. I was late and rushing. And then Mario was the one who comes and gives him that pill! Ain’t that crazy? If only I would’ve knew. He died when the bag of coke opened up in his stomach.


I asked everybody who was with him that day if they had done any coke. They all lied! They didn’t tell the truth until after he was finished. And they still didn’t tell that he swallowed it! Only way I found out is when Flav told me he was with the guy that booked the show for him that day. And Dirty brought a couple Gs worth of s**t, and he couldn’t use but $400-$500 of it that day, and he swallowed the rest because he didn’t want to leave his s**t.


If we would’ve had that little bit of information we would’ve had his stomach pumped. So I replay that day but you know what, I share my part of the story with the world. When you speak about your mother in the book it reminds me of the Nas lyric where he says your mom is closest thing to God you’ll ever have. What is the biggest lesson you’d say your mom instilled in you?


RZA: Hmmm. There’s so many but the one that popped in my head first is when I was doing a lot of negativity and acting crazy, I got in some legal trouble and got out of it. My mom just looked in my eyes, knew I was a good kid and said “look boy, this is your second chance. God is giving you a second chance, Rakeem. Don’t waste it. Walk the right path.” And that’s what I did. And it lead to everything that’s here today: from Wu-Tang, to my company, to my babies, everything. I listened to her, and I stopped doing the negative s**t. I’m not doing nothing. I stayed away from all that s**t we were doing in those days.


Here an example that Ghost can vouch for. With street business, let’s say you get a kilo. You know how much more trouble you got on your hands? [laughs] Not just the law, but the people who want to shoot and rob you. You gotta carry a gun and all this negativity is all in your life. A kilo can probably make you $100 Gs. But then you got 5 to 6 n##### to work on it. And each one of those lives are at risk because they were giving a year a gram. One gram you got a year. That’s a 1000 years of jail, easily! [laughs] If you make it through you got a $100 grand that won’t last more than 4 months. Crazy game.



That’s how stupid we were. 2 years after that I’m selling beats for $100,000. It takes 10 minutes to make in my crib without no chance of getting in trouble. [laughs] But it shows you how positivity multiplies. I’d never become a millionaire stealing clothes and all the other dumb s**t we were doing as kids. 1 or 2 years of righteousness gave millionaire status. And not to say money is everything, it just shows you the multiplication of positivity. My mom inspired that. A lot of young men struggle with taking the step to marriage. When did you know it was the right time to take that leap with your spouse?


RZA: We became one 10 years ago. At first I wasn’t going to get married again. I was married once before. It was hell and I wasn’t going through that s**t again. I didn’t like the divorce system, the whole tricknology of it. So we decided to get engaged and live as husband and wife without going through a whole ceremony of bureaucracy.


But living like this with her brought peace and harmony and my life was getting more beautiful every day. I decided to make it official so everyone in the world would look at us as one. The sad part is you can love someone and feel like your husband and wife, but if you’re not married and have children, you’re going to come across a lot of difficulty. Why go through that with them when there’s a solution?


And my woman comes from a family who has a long tradition of marriage. They live it out. Her parents were married for 30 plus years. So it was the good quality of family as well.


So I did without a shadow of doubt. Yo, I did it without a prenup… Wow, really?


RZA: Yeah [laughs]. Before I was like “I’m getting a prenup s**t, after the last divorce.” But then I was like I’ve already defined my life with yours, so if we separated then half my life has been yours anyway so it wouldn’t really matter anymore [laughs]. Final question, what would you say is your greatest achievement first as an artist, and then as a man?


RZA: As an artist I appreciate the birth of the Wu-Tang Clan. I’m grateful, it changed my life and thousands of families. But as far as feeling just proud, it’s really when I hear people say they’ve read the book and learned something from it, whether it’s the Wu-Tang Manual or someone who got an advance copy of this one. That s**t feels very gratifying. As an artist that’s my creative high, to know my wisdom has multiplied in another vessel.


As a man, there’s nothing greater than your children. There’s nothing greater than providing for your family and being able to watch them grow. I watched them come out of the wombs of their mothers. Well at least 5 out of 7. [laughs] I’m a Hip-Hop dude so I had a few over here and over there being caught up in the hype. My children say they love me, and that’s real because my pops disappeared. If I wanted to tell him I loved him I couldn’t say nothing. It took years for us to catch up with each other. For me to be here and part of this family is a great achievement.


This generation of Hip-Hoppers are striving to be better fathers then what we’ve seen in a long time. I’m striving to be a real good father, man.


Now since you’re the man with all the answers, I have a question for you. What’s that?


RZA: What does your name mean? Ismael means “Allah will listen” and AbduSalaam means “Servant of Peace or Most Peaceful.”


RZA: All praises due. Indeed, brother! Peace.


RZA: Peace…