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RZA still going strong

Kimberly Nicoletti

What: RZAWhen: Wednesday nightWhere: Sherpa & Yeti’s, BreckenridgeBRECKENRIDGE -In the 1990s, Wu-Tang Clan accomplished what network executives only dream of: Start a hit (series, or in Wu-Tang’s case, group), then spin off into as many side projects as possible.Wu-Tang Clan, a collection of nine MCs from Staten Island, N.Y., set out to become its own industry of sorts. It ended up being one of the most revolutionary rap groups of the mid-90s – not just because of its music but also because its plan worked.The MCs wielded their collective name from a powerful, mythic kung fu sword, and they cut through the music industry with the fury of warriors.The clan released “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” in 1993. For years later, the rap community imitated the menacing style RZA – the chief producer of Wu-Tang – put out there.RZA -born in Brooklyn as Robert Diggs – emerged during the early 1990s as a member of All in Together Now, which included eventual Wu-Tang members Genius (a.k.a. GZA) and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.When RZA went solo under the name Prince Rakeem in 1991 with “Ooh, I Love You Rakeem” and “My Deadly Venom,” the singles fell flat.Two years later, Wu-Tang’s first hard-hitting single, “Protect Ya Neck” became an underground hit, and record labels began offering the clan contracts. But the members held out until they landed a deal allowing each member to record solo albums for any label they chose. Loud/RCA agreed, and Wu-Tang’s debut album went platinum.When members began cashing in on the success by spinning off into other projects, RZA led the way. He recorded “6 Feet Deep” as a member of Gravediggaz in August, 1994. The ultra-violent-styled album earned the nickname “horrorcore” and went gold.Before launching his solo debut, RZA produced albums, including Method Man’s 1994 “Tical,” the first official solo album from one of Wu-Tang’s members.And, before RZA’s debut “RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo” hit No. 3 on the top R&B/hip-hop chart and No. 16 on the Billboard 200 in 1998, he reconvened with Wu-Tang for its second album, “Wu-Tang Forever,” which hit the charts at No. 1 and sold 600,000 copies in the first week.But RZA’s ominous sound became commonplace by the time he released his second round of solo albums.His recent work in soundtracks, though, have silenced people who thought RZA’s intensity had fallen away.Indie filmmaker Jim Jarmusch commissioned RZA to compose the soundtrack for the hip-hop movie “Ghost Dog.” The soundtrack references the film throughout, extending the movie’s themes and weaving in dialogue between the hard-edged hip-hop tracks.RZA also composed four of the 22 tracks on “Kill Bill” – “Ode to Oren Ishii,” “Crane-White Lightning,” “Yakuza Oren 1” and “Banister Fight.”Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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