Over the past decades, the Wu-Tang Clan’s the RZA has proven to be one of the most versatile producers, using both samples and live instrumentation to his multitude of Hip Hop and film projects. Now, in a recent interview with MTV’s Mixtape Daily, the RZArector talks about sampling versus playing a traditional instrument.

The multi-instrumental RZA related how a brief and somewhat critical encounter with a disgruntled musician pushed him to delve into the study of musical theory. He explained that some Hip Hop producers manage to skate by without a traditional understanding of music, and that his own instance of critique pushed him to face the music.

“Two things happened: the first thing was that I was at a music store buying equipment. I went platinum…I probably was feeling myself egotistically…and a regular musician stopped me, ‘cus people were giving me attention like, ‘That’s the RZA,’ and this guy said [to me], ‘You’re ruining music,’” the Abbot explained. “[I was like] ‘What’s this guy talking about?’ He was a musician, but because of sampling, he can’t get a job. Because of drum machines, his drummer can’t get no work. He said, ‘You’re not a real musician.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about I’m not a real musician? I’ve got a platinum album.’ He said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not a musician. You don’t know nothing about music.’ He was right; I couldn’t tell him what a C note was. So he challenged me, basically.”

He continued, “I didn’t say nothing to him, I just took it to myself. I came back a week later and bought some music theory books and started studying music theory so I c[ould] be a legitamite musician, just to respect the craft of music. He was right; it’s unfair sometimes to have success on things when we haven’t paid our dues. I had paid my dues to Hip Hop, but I didn’t pay my dues to music, so I went and started studying theory.”

The full interview can be seen below.

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