HHCF EXCLUSIVE: Wu-Tang Clan's GZA On Tour in Orlando

We caught up with GZA today before the Wu-Tang Clan destroyed the stage in Orlando, Florida. In this interview, we talk about why everybody loves a Wu-Tang show, how O.D.B. used to be a wicked beatboxer and if GZA thinks he can beat 50 and Souljah Boy on the 64 Squares.

HHCF: OK, so- y’all are in Florida right now? What’s goin’ on?

GZA: Nothin’ much right now. The weather is nice. But its not t-shirt weather. But it beats some of the weather we just came from [laughs].

HHCF: How is the tour coming along?

GZA: It’s going good. Great response- as always. A couple of chess matches in between.

HHCF: You playin’ other cats in the Clan, or fans- who?

GZA: I been playin True Master, one of the engineers and one of the other brothers that’s been on the road with us.

HHCF: How good is True Master. Is anybody especially dominant?

GZA: I’ve been pretty dominant. But True Master has a good game when he’s concentrating.

HHCF: I think you and Public Enemy share the title as the Rolling Stones of rap. Everybody gets excited whenever you guys tour. What is the essence of passion that people have to see the Wu perform?

GZA: First of all, there is so much energy. When we we’re on stage, its like another world. We can be in a heated argument on the bus. But when we get to the show and walk on stage- you’ll never know. We love what we do.

Also, this is its rawest form. RZA once said it a long time ago “100% natural, No preservative, no additives”. People just love Wu.

We are like grandparents, that are outliving their grandchildren. Because we not only have our first fans- we have their children. That’s RARE in Hip-Hop.

HHCF: That’s true. What are some of the first shows that you remember attending as a fan? Not as a performer.

GZA: I can’t even remember. Maybe Harlem World. I been there once or twice. I don’t remember who was playin’. I don’t remember if it was Kool Moe Dee, or Busy Bee. There were quite a few artists performing that night.

We did not go to too many rap shows. We were at too many talent shows trying to get put on, to tell you the truth. It was more like block parties for us. Almost since the beginning of Hip-Hop. We had a chance to see people perform way before there were concerts.

We used to go to the South Bronx from Staten Island back in 1977-76. We would go to block parties- and get a lot of stuff for free [laughs]. Jams is what they called them back then.

HHCF: Outside of MC’ing, did you ever do any of the other elements of Hip-Hop?

GZA: Mostly MC’ing. I definitely used to break, around the time I started MCing. I was pretty good to. But that was before they stated spinning on heads and windmills.

HHCF: You was more of an uprock kinda dude?

GZA: Yes. I did sweeps and a little bit of floor stuff. But not once it actually became breakdancing. The windmills and spins and things of that nature. But I did that at an early age.

I wrote on walls and the halls. But it was nothing that stood out. I was just puttin’ my name up.

DJ’ing? I tried that. But I never had equipment at my house. Dirty and RZA were actually good at scratching and cutting. They were both human beatboxers also. I never did that. Dirty I must say he was one of the best.

HHCF: As a beatboxer or a DJ?

GZA: He was good as a DJ, and RZA was good as a DJ. But Dirty was one of the best human beatboxers. He was really good. This was in the 80’s. We called him the human beatbox specialist.

We had a crew called the All In Together Now Crew. It was myself, Dirty and RZA. Dirty was “The Professor”, RZA was “The Scientist” and I was “The Genius”. I didn’t want the title “Genius”. I really didn’t. It was too much to expect with that name. I wanted Professor. ‘Cause there were more words that rhymed with that word at the time.

We were MC’s, Dirty and RZA would beatbox and DJ- we just combined that all together.

HHCF: Tell me about your experience at the Chess Kings Invitational. What did you expect and what did you see?

GZA: I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, I expected people, and tables, chessboards and press. And it was all there. But I did not expect THAT any children involved. I mean, I knew it was for a good cause. I knew children would be involved- but it was a great event.

I enjoyed being there. I hope to be there over and over again and hopefully win. I also did not think that it would be that easy for us (GZA, RZA and Monk). They were quite easy. The only game I lost was to RZA- a stupid blunder! It was something that was just ridiculous.

HHCF: In late 2008 we gonna do it again for a new belt. You coming out or what?

GZA: Yes!

HHCF: When is it?

GZA: The Honor the Queens has just been moved to May. There will be lots of MMA fighters and a lot of the top ladies in chess and Hip-Hop there. After that, we’ll have the next battle for the belt in August 2008.

HHCF: What chess books and videos do you get into to help prepare you?

GZA: I had tapes a long time ago. I don’t remember their names. When I was at the Chess Kings Invitational, I bought a lot of books from Eric Schiller.

HHCF: I remember seeing you guys talking after the event.

GZA: I have not had a chance to read them because I’m touring. I’m on the road trying to write, so I got the at home for when I get off tour. I have about 15 chess books though. The book I have picked up the most is The Game of Chess by Tarasch- it’s a green book. I also have 101 Chess Combinations….I don’t know who wrote that. I’ve had The 200 Best Games by Kasparov. That’s a good book right there. The first game starts when he was ten years old. It’s a strong game.

There’s probably some really good chess players reading this and they’ll be like “Man, them books is whatever”. But they’re good for me though.

HHCF: What did you think of the passing of Bobby Fischer?

GZA: Its sad.[long pause] He’s done a lot for chess. I mean, he pretty much revolutionized the game- for his time.

HHCF: I can’t think of another American with such an impact. It was so immense.

GZA: I can’t either. He was one of the best. If not, the best.

HHCF: I saw a lot of chatter back and forth between you and 50 and you and Souljah Boy. Who do you think would win in a chess match if you played those two?

GZA: Well, of course I’m going to say myself. I don’t know if Souljah plays. I’ pretty sure 50 plays. He may be familiar with chess. Of course I’m gonna say myself. As far as dealing with the situation…If I compare it to chess…His method of playing chess, is as old as human thought. It needs some improvement.

HHCF: So the tour is about to end. What do you do at the end of a long tour?

GZA: Rest for a few days. Then it’s back to business. Then I’m back on the road.

HHCF: Will you ever do a sequel to Grandmasters?

GZA: Yes, definitely. I don’t know if we’ll call it a sequel. But, I’m gonna do another album with Muggs.

HHCF: I look forward to seeing you in 2008 when you come out to get that belt again. Do you have any last words?

GZA: Wu-Tang is Forever. 8 Diagrams.

© 2008 Hip-Hop Chess Federation

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