RZA Explains His Love Of Art, Compares Himself To George Washington

Exclusive: Wu-Tang's Abbott reacts to the new series of paintings portraying him as George Washington, and talks about what's on his walls.

As HipHopDX reported last month, Wu-Tang Clan's RZA recently participated in The Monument Series, an art project sponsored by WhenArtImitatesLife.com. The painting, available in 360 reproduction canvases, finds the Wu-Tang Music Group head, artist and producer portrayed as George Washington in the famous "crossing the Delaware" painting. The series also includes hand-prints, alluding to Wu's "W" trademark.

Speaking to DX, RZA spoke about his general interest in visual arts, and the diversity in his collection. "My art collection is different from what people would call an art collection. I have some pictures that are worth money because they are gifts from friends who will send me some $10,000 shit. But my wall is decorated with a poster of Jimi Hendrix that only cost me $50. But I love Jimi Hendrix. I have a poster of Bruce Lee that I got from the martial arts supply store. The frame cost more than the picture. But then in my dining room is a drawing that one of my wife's cousins did about 20 years ago that her grandmother had, and this person is not famous for nothing, but I put a $5,000 frame around it. I made it famous. So that's one thing I do when it comes to my art collection." The bi-coastal Rap icon said that his pad closer to his New York birthplace is a bit more decadent in terms of art. "But go to my other house in New Jersey, and you'll see all this art I brought back from Egypt that was expensive. But then go in my studio and you'll see Kung Fu movie posters hanging all around. So to me, art is a choice thing. And [its] value is actually the value we put on things. So something that's worth five dollars to you is worth $5,000 to somebody else, based on their love and their desire for it."

Although the 1770s and the 1990s may seem vastly different, the innovative producer compared himself to the United States' General and first appointed leader. "George Washington was the first American President, started the American Revolution, tried to bring freedom and justice to his nation of people and bring out their philosophy and their ideas with the Declaration of Independence and all these things. Same with Wu-Tang Clan, we were bringing out the ideas of Hip Hop, the ideas of freedom of expression. At the time, Hip Hop was very glossy, I felt the true Hip Hop emcees weren't making it. I also felt that Hip Hop wasn't being represented even by the other [hardcore] artists, even though I got much respect for the other artists: Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, all of them. But the producers that were producing Hip Hop weren't emcees, they weren't break-dancers, they weren't graffiti writers. They didn't have all these Hip Hop elements combined in 'em, into one being. That's what I am. I was a graffiti writer, a deejay, a break-dancer, as well as an emcee. I took all those elements and I became a producer, a new form of Hip Hop; taking the beat machines and all that. So I see me being the same kind of pioneer as George Washington, causing a revolution in the game."

Learn more about the prints at WhenArtImitatesLife.com.

Purchase Music by RZA


  • MC Mercedes

    ...just looked up the original....this is NOT a fucking painting by RZA, it's a photoshop fake, and not even a good one......stick to producing, hell, bring back the grave diggers.....just don't be playing painter anymore......BTW, i love RZA's shit but this ain't shit

  • khordkutta

    For the cats who say RZA was talking out his ass. Were ya'll even old enough to buy 36 when it dropped.

  • ronniebutts@collegeclub.com

    The internet allows idiots to comment on silly shit. If don't know how influential RZA is then you don't know hip hop. He has more hits than Dr. Dre and Timbaland. Those producers had to go find artists to make their albums do well, RZA did it all with the Wu tang clan. He can say he was like George Washington because he set "precedents" if you assholes know what that means. Stop Hatin so much and digest the mans perspective and stop being a hater. If you really now rap he definitely has more originality than the other producers I mentioned.

  • shouldbewe

    if you know nothing about visual art don`t talk about it.

  • Hiphopcypher

    Hip-Hip is Hip-Hop, Give respect due, even if you think that RZA speaks about things that you are to ignorant to comprehend . Big-ups RZA, I give it to you and all the ways you express yourself artistically. WHether its Emceein, DJayin, breakdancin, producin, actin, or soundtrackin, REPRESENT your culture, your people, your art... always PLEASE CALM DOWN, WU-TANG IS FOR THE CHILDEREN.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2-5GSjZvW8 R.I.P. Baby Jesus

  • mufucka

    $1,000 for that?????? haha fuck that

  • insanemacbeth

    i don't believe, that you have to have been a deejay, to be a producer. a deejay is someone who entertains a crowd; whereas to be a producer, you have to have knowledge, of how SOUND works. two different things!

    • greezythumb

      I understand what RZA is trying to convey. most people agree the best period of hip-hop was 88-95 (give or take). During this period (I would say around 92-93 it all started to come together) hip-hop finally had found its sonic identity. This time period contains more classic albums then any other. Almost all hip-hop today owes its production to this era. Well lets look at the peeps that sculptured the sonic landscape who's influence is felt today. RZA, Dr. Dre, Premier, Da Beatminerz, Pete Rock, J Dilla, Marley Marl, Mark The 45 King, Scott La Rock, Eric B., DJ Pooh, DJ Quick, Prince Paul, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, The Beatnuts, Diamond D, Clark Kent. These are JUST A FEW of the peeps whose hands are attached to some of the most brilliant production ever in hip-hop thats still banging in dudes cars and still influencing producers now. Of this small group I have named, all but one started out as DJs. I think I understand what RZA was saying. Hip-hop at that time was not being true to its urban origins. It was missing the grit. Dudes like him, Pete Rock, Primo came along with the respect to the elements touch. The production the MC could make love on the mic to, the breakdancers & graf artists would appreciate and of course, the DJ, as only he could do. Although RZA do get spacey in his convo, like ODB, there is substance to his madness. Must be a family thing.... hahaha

    • insanemacbeth

      to KIPP, i see what you're saying...but this is what i'm talking about. a producer may mess with sounds/ instruments, that a deejay hasn't even heard before. that's because a producer manipulates 'sound'! a deejay spins records, and 'hopes' that the listener likes/ feels that record. deejays are an integral part of hip-hop culture; but it's all about the producer, today...and the 'sound' that producer brings, to the table.

    • Kipp Kalehoff

      I agree with you, Insane. Here's a different perspective, though. A deejay does know how to entertain the crowd. Also, a deejay learns how the basic of sounds work, such as eq'ing, environmental acoustics, and volume control. There are two different sound settings when one deejays for a club as well as a private, indoor party. It becomes a good stepping stool for the deejay who may want to be a record producer somewhere down the road. Does that make sense? The deejay who knows how to entertain the crowd can carry that ability into record making. I'm certain there are plenty of deejays' abilities do get lost in translation once they walk inside of the studio. Also, there are plenty of deejays managed to capitalize and expand their abilities in the studio. Such as Pete Rock, RZA, Timbaland, Jazzy Jeff, and many others. True, you don't have to be a deejay to be a producer. It's just from a deejay's perspective, they have the basics. Once they're in the studio, they'll expand on the nomenclature of how sound works. I hope my comments help you understand RZA's perspective. Good day.

    • knowlege 1st

      Everything is Everything

  • bedouin

    Sofa King We Todd Ed

  • mr.face

    a i respect what he says but just like the other guy he does sometimes says some stupid shit.

  • lol..

    I love the Wu and Rzas beats but he says some dumb shit. like this.

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