At 50, RZA’s career melded martial arts philosophies with New York realities in his many bodies of work.
Robert Fitzgerald Diggs has made his fiftieth lap around the sun.
Known as the Golden anniversary, 50 years is a milestone, especially in a life that has been fully in synch with one’s ideals and true purpose. Since the eighties, the world has known Diggs as a multi-hyphenate artist.
First blessing the scene as Prince Rakeem, the master planner organized his first recording group with his cousins. All In Together Now featured future stars Genius aka GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who at the time were not donning these monikers.
Although they became infamous on Staten Island, the trio never scored the then coveted major label record deal. However in 1991, then under the name Prince Rakeem, Diggs received his first taste of musical “success” dropping the Ooh I Love You Rakeem EP under Tommy Boy.
The move alerted him to a fact that Q-Tip would coin as gospel: “Industry Rule 4080, Record company people are shady.”
Prince Rakeem didn’t last but a reinvention and evolution were taking place. Not just artistically, but personally changing Diggs perspective and making it all so simple (pun intended).
In 1992, Diggs experienced a shoot out in Ohio that had him facing a potential eight years of imprisonment. The verdict was Not Guilty and the already woke Producer-MC fell fully in line with the knowledge of self, wisdom, and over-standing taught by the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths. An avid martial arts movie fiend, Diggs became reborn as RZA, and Staten Island became Shaolin.
Re-aligning with his two cousins, now GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and opening the ranks to Raekwon, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, and U-God. The group became the Wu-Tang Clan.
From 1992 to infinity, the groups became the new sound of New York. Straying away from tales of luxury and swelling firmly in street tales coded with the Five Percenter Supreme Alphabet lexicon, the group took the world by stage.
From its cinematic inspiration, Shaolin and the Wu-Tang, to the gritty yet natural way they melded martial arts philosophies with New York realities, Rza was a pioneer.
Behind the boards, he has always been a consummate trendsetter. From crafting Wu-Tang’s unique dark sound to being a pioneer of the horrorcore genre with Prince Paul and the Gravediggaz, Diggs has lived in his unscripted truth.
Now, with multiple platinum projects, amazing solo careers that have splintered off from all the members and the cinematic translation of Diggs’ vision apparent in movies and scoring, he is truly living his best life.
Recently, there have been many full circle moments for Diggs.
From the Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men documentary produced by Nas owned Mass Appeal and SHOWTIME to the upcoming Wu-Tang series coming to Hulu in September; the Wu are being hailed as living legends.
Straight from the jungles of Shaolin and direct to your doorstep, the RZA became the Abbott by going left when the world was going right. The combination of chess strategy, martial arts discipline, and his belief in I-Self-Lord-And-Master (Islam) through the lens of believing he is a God, the RZA has lived a life of vision provision to the globe.
We are all his witnesses.