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


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.