This past May during an interview with TheMostInfluential.com, up-and-coming New Orleans emcee Jay Electronica responded to a comment Wu-Tang Clan head honcho the RZA had made years prior in Rap Pages about the lack of intelligence in the South.
“I took offense with RZA in that [comment about the South],” he said during the interview. “Peace unto RZA. That’s my brother, and RZA had a great effect on me. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for RZA and the music he made with Wu-Tang Clan. But also RZA, you said some crazy, wild shit…[A comment like the RZA’s] would be like me coming to New York or another place and saying you’re of a lesser intelligence because you’re not knowledgeable about my circumstance or environment.”
MTV’s Sway recently caught up with the Abbot to discuss Jay Electronica’s controversial remarks. The RZA clarified his previous statement, saying that he was speaking out personal experience with his extended family, who comes from the South.
“I know I said a few things about the South throughout my career in different periods,” RZA told Sway. “I remember I did an article in Rap Pages years ago, ’cause me and Master P had a talk about this years ago. I was speaking on the education level in the South, how brothers drop out in the sixth grade – some of them because they have to go to work, some of them because of the poverty, some because they’re not interested in the education system, how their dialect in speaking and how their vocabulary was limited…just a lot of crazy things that people from up North had evolved from. When I was doing this article, I was talking about my own family at first.
“My family comes from the South. My grandpa, my grandma, they’re frying fat back in the kitchen, Grandpops didn’t have more than a sixth-grade reading level…my grandma was a welfare mom. A lot of my family from that generation was basically lost…but up in New York, my family was able to get knowledge of ourselves, and so you’d see brothers like me, GZA, Dirty and that generation of cousins and youth all reading books and studying and perfecting our mentalities.”
The RZA later added that he was simply pointing out an observation on the geographical disparity with respect to education. At the same time, however, he says that he feels the expansiveness of the Internet and of Hip-Hop culture brings new educational opportunities to all regions of the United States.
“The truth is the truth, first of all: the South has evolved later than us [up North],” he explain. “You can get a book in Harlem off the streets. Books like Stolen Legacy [and] The Isis Paper, you can find this stuff in the streets of Harlem…[or] Brooklyn. Just walking around in Manhattan. In the South, they won’t find that in the bookstores nor the streets; they have to research it. With Internet knowledge, there’s a better chance for education for all. But I’ve felt and I’ve seen…I got cousins out there that still live in the South. They have not picked up on the wavelength of where their mind should be. But hip-hop has helped it all evolve. Hip-hop, to me, is a blessing and a mercy for the black community first, then I’ll say for the urban community, and just for American culture.”
Watch the video below for the whole interview, courtesy of MTV.com.