Rebirth of a prince

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  August 19, 2008

“THE HEART GENTLY WEEPS” | 8 DIAGRAMS [2007] | Late 2004: Ol’ Dirty Bastard dies of congestive heart failure two days before his 36th birthday. RZA comments: “There’s only one Dirty. The planet couldn’t handle another.”

“RULES” | IRON FLAG [2001] | 2005: With the release of The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA shares the science and mechanics behind Wu-Tang. Among the words defined in his “Wu-Slang Lexicon”: “applehead” (a big penis); “fish” (pussy); and “Lebanon” (Long Beach).

THE W [2000] | 2007: Ridley Scott persuades RZA to play police officer Moses Jones in the Harlem crime epic American Gangster. He makes for a believable 1970s cop, except for the oddly unconcealed Wu tattoo on his biceps.

“CERTIFIED SAMURAI” | AFRO SAMURAI [2007] | 2007: Marrying his obsessions with kung fu, hip-hop and unpredictability, RZA lays the soundtrack for the 2007 martial-arts cartoon flick Afro Samurai, luring unlikely collaborators including Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, and Big Daddy Kane to contribute verses.

“DA MYSTERY OF CHESSBOXIN’ ” | ENTER THE WU-TANG (36 CHAMBERS) [1993] | 2007: Being the walk-the-walk type of guy that he is, RZA enters the Chess Kings Invitational in San Francisco. And wins.

“WINTER WARZ” | IRONMAN [1996] | 2007: Angry with the artistic direction that RZA took with the Clan collaboration 8 Diagrams, fellow member Raekwon disowns the release and famously calls RZA a “hip-hop hippie.”

“CASH RULES EVERYTHING AROUND ME” | ENTER THE WU-TANG (36 CHAMBERS) [1993] | 2008: U-God starts off the new year by suing Wu Music for $170,000 in alleged back payments. As usual, U-God is ignored.

“TAKE IT BACK” | 8 DIAGRAMS [2007] | 2008: Whereas most rappers, including Ludacris and Nas, are endorsing Barack Obama, RZA donates to Hillary Clinton. Bill O’Reilly attacks Clinton for consorting with the “Wee-Tang Clan” “gangster rapper.”

“LONGTIME COMING” | DIGI SNACKS [2008] | 2008: RZA releases his finest Bobby Digital disc yet, Digi Snacks, and announces a Cambridge release party. It’s about fucking time.

RZA (AS BOBBY DIGITAL) + J THE S + AMADEUS THE STAMPEDE + HEDDSHOTTS + RELENTLESS | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | August 28 at 9 pm | $25-$28 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com

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