Interview: Rza mourns his ‘Brick Mansions’ co-star Paul Walker

Rza's latest film acting gig is in the action film "Brick Mansions." Credit: Getty Images
Rza’s latest film acting gig is in the action film “Brick Mansions.”
Credit: Getty Images

When we sit down with hip-hop legend RZA in the lobby of L.A.’s fancy Arclight movie theater, he’s a bit glum. It turns out the interviewer directly before us had ended on a Paul Walker question, and RZA is still preoccupied with thoughts of his late “Brick Mansions” co-star. Luckily, a little talk about reinvigorating the music business perks him right up.

How are you doing?

I’m doing good, actually. Every once in a while you feel a bit like, “Wow…”, because Paul ain’t here. [The last reporter] kind of left me thinking a little bit more about it. We’ve been through it over and over again today, and it is getting crazy when you think about talking about something that he did but something that he can’t enjoy with us.

What were some of the highlights of working with him?

His energy, his spirit. He was uppity, daring. He just brings a smile to the atmosphere. One of my favorite days was when him and his other buddies joined us. Because you could meet somebody and you get a feel from hanging with them, but then when you meet their buddies you get to know even more. They all had cool energy.

This is based on a French film, “District B13,” which basically introduced parkour. How do think it translates to an American setting?

What I think is this, is that us that are in the know, we are always ahead of the rest of the country. Like when “Ong-Bak” came out and “Chocolate” came out, we saw those movies, knew the moves and loved Tony Jaa. The audience didn’t know. They had to wait to see “The Avengers” to see those moves. [Laughs] So for this particular film, it’s more like we’ve got that movie in our DVD collection by now — two of them, even — yet America doesn’t know what parkour is. And they’ll learn now.

Let’s give another example: By the time break-dancing reached “America,” we were already up to levels of spinning on our heads, you know what I mean? [Laughs] There’s a second generation of parkour artists now. And it takes that. Drake just put a song out, “Wu-Tang Forever,” on his new album, but it’s 20 years later for us. So that’s how art grows.

Does that mess with your head at all, thinking about how much time has passed?

It doesn’t mess with my head. I mean, time is just the thing that you can’t grab a hold of its tail, kid. You’ve got to accept time. So it doesn’t mess with me. I just pray for 20 more, 30 more. I love this planet, I love life. I’m down to hang out. [Laughs]

Rza plays a drug kingpin in "Brick Mansions," a remake of the French parkour film "District B13." Credit: Philippe Bosse
Rza plays a drug kingpin in “Brick Mansions,” a remake of the French parkour film “District B13.”
Credit: Philippe Bosse

What about the single-copy Wu-Tang album you’ve announced? Does this mean that even you won’t have a copy?

Exactly. It’ll be out of my hands. I’ve been thinking for a minute of a way to make music artistically tangible and appreciated in a way that takes it back from the digital domain. I think I’ve got some solutions, and this is one of them — to treat it as what it is, a piece of art. Especially a Wu-Tang album — there’s so many moving parts to making it, enough for a small film. And you’re telling me you want to download that for free? Or you’re telling me that you don’t want to have it packaged for you? You’re telling me that this is not valuable to the world? It costs money to make music. But if you’re not willing to pay for the music when it’s done, then how is the artist going to be able to create the music?

Napster comes and the kids are like, “No, we shouldn’t have to pay for it.” I never argued with them; I always felt like I kind of agreed in one sense. But then all of a sudden the owner of Napster gets a billion dollars, and yet the royalties of all those artists are never calculated — to this day. My goal is to help bring that awareness back, and this is one way of doing that. The idea was that this is a piece of art that can be exhibited like a piece of art — and should be exhibited like art. So we’ve started working on all the parameters of what’s going to make it logical, what’s going to protect the integrity of the art, what’s going to protect the movement that we want the dynamic shift to be as well as what’s going to kind of raise the bar in the corporate world of music, kind of change the dynamic of it.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter @nedrick


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.