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RZA (pronounced rizza, born Robert Diggs, July 5, 1969 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, USA) is a record producer, rapper and the leader of the hip hop crew Wu-Tang Clan. He was also a member of the group Gravediggaz.


Early Career

After a impoverished childhood in a family of 10 children, RZA began his career in hip hop in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a member of the All in Together Now Crew along with future Wu-Tang members GZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard. Once this acclaimed local band dissolved, he joined the Tommy Boy label as a solo artist (going by the name Prince Rakeem) and released an EP titled Ooh I Love You Rakeem in 1991. After this album achieved little success, Prince Rakeem started going by the name RZA (pronounced "the rizza" and derived from the sound produced when "Rakeem" or "Robert" was scratched on a turntable) and formed the Wu-Tang Clan with 8 others. After the singles Protect Ya Neck and Method Man, both driven by raucous RZA-produced beats, made the group into underground sensations, the group released their debut LP Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. The album was incredibly successful, revolutionizing hip hop; one of the major reasons was RZA's sparse, lean and very distinctive production style. As each of the group's members embarked on solo careers, RZA continued to produce nearly everything Wu-Tang related during the period 1994-1997, as well as devising song concepts and structure. His production technique developed from the raw, minimalist sounds of Method Man's Tical and Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return To The 36 Chambers to more cinematic and expansive soundscapes driven by string sections or thick layers of synthesizer on Ghostface Killah's Ironman, GZA's Liquid Swords and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. All of the group's albums during the 94-96 period are rated very highly by hip hop critics and enthusiasts. RZA also took part in the Gravediggaz, an off-and-on rap supergroup including Frukwan of Stetsasonic and Prince Paul who released the critically acclaimed album 6 Feet Deep in 1994.

Wu Tang Forever

In 1998, after the second Wu-Tang Clan album Wu-Tang Forever, which for the first time featured RZA delegating much of the beatmaking duties to his proteges True Master and 4th Disciple (known as the Wu-Elements), he released his first solo effort titled RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo. This was an experimental concept album featuring him rapping as his hedonistic, fun-loving alter-ego Bobby Digital and showcasing a unique keyboard-driven sound RZA called "digital orchestra", but it received mixed reviews. He also reformed with the Gravediggaz for the album The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel, a calmer and more mature album than their horrorcore-orientated debut. After another Wu-Tang group album titled The W (his production on which received much praise) and a greatest hits album titled RZA Hits, RZA released another Bobby Digital album, 2001's Digital Bullet, and then in 2003 released Birth of a Prince, his first album released as The RZA. Digital Bullet was an attempt to develop Bobby Digital further, and the album followed a loose story arc which saw the character becoming more "enlightened" and more disillusioned with hedonism as the album went on. Birth Of A Prince spawned the hit single We Pop, and featured a mix of lighthearted Bobby Digital tracks and more lyrically high-browed RZA tracks. Both Digital Bullet and Birth Of A Prince received mixed reviews from the press and fans. In 2003 he also released an album of collaborations with international rap and R&B musicians (including France's Saļan Supa Crew and Germany's Xavier Naidoo) entitled The World According to RZA, which was successful in many countries, despite not being sold in the USA. After Wu-Tang Forever, RZA ceased to produce every Wu-Tang solo album as he had done previously, but continued to contribute usually one or two beats on average to each record as well as receiving an Executive Producer credit.

Recent Work

More recently he has moved into composing film scores, earning praise for his hip-hop score to Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai, and appearing for a brief cameo in the film itself. He also created and produced the original music for the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill, as well as Blade II and Soul Plane. RZA also appeared alongside fellow Wu-Tang member GZA in one segment of Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes opposite Bill Murray.

RZA has been promising for many years to release The Cure, said to be an epic concept album containing collaborations with high-profile artists such as Stevie Wonder, to be mostly in the wordy, Five Percent Nation-influenced style of Wu-Tang tracks such as Sunshower. There appeared to be light at the end of the tunnel in mid-2004 for increasingly impatient Wu-Tang fans awaiting this release when RZA authorized the limited release of the mixtape Formula For The Cure which was intended to build anticipation for the finished article.

RZA served as the Artist in Residence for the 2005 LA Film Festival.


RZA is a vegetarian, stating "an ox is strong as a motherfucker, and all he eats is grass".

RZA became a Christian during the making of the album Birth of A Prince.


  • Bobby Steels
  • Bobby Digital
  • The Abbot
  • Chief Abbot
  • the Scientist
  • Prince Delight
  • Prince Dynamite
  • Prince Rakeem
  • RZArecta (from resurrector - waking up the mentally dead)
  • Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig-Allah



Singles & EPs

  • 1991 "Ooh We Love You Rakeem" (EP)
  • 1999 "NYC Everything"
  • 1999 "Holocaust (Silkworm)"
  • 2001 "La Rhumba"
  • 2001 "Brooklyn Babies"
  • 2003 "We Pop"
  • 2004 "Grits"

Appears On

External links


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