RZA Responds To U-God’s Accusations Of Wu-Tang Mismanagement & Greed
Last month, Wu-Tang Clan member U-God published a memoir. With regards to the behind-the-scenes business and inner-workings of a legendary Hip-Hop group, Raw lives up to its name. After announcing a seven-figure lawsuit against RZA and Wu-Tang in late 2016 over unpaid royalties, many speculated that the artist (who followed with “Venom”) might persist to vent his frustrations in book form. He did. In an excerpt published at Rolling Stone, the Staten Island, New York representative MC criticized RZA and brother Mitchell “Divine” Diggs for mismanaging the Wu-Tang Clan, greed surrounding its logo and Wu-Wear, and shorting several Wu members, including Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, and himself.
RZA has now responded in a discussion with Rolling Stone. The perceived leader of the Clan defends himself as well his family against many of U-God’s charges. In some cases, he agrees with the Golden Arms MC who sat out from 2017’s The Saga Continues album. The rapper/actor double-threat also urges Hip-Hop Heads to exercise caution. “Look, every man has a right to write a book,” RZA states, having publishing two titles. “Some books are fiction and some books are nonfiction. Some are myths, some are fantasy, some are sci-fi – I don’t know if this book falls totally in nonfiction.” The Abbott does not specify with what may not be truthful, but he addresses some of U-God’s points and stands his ground.
For starters, RZA waves off the notion that the legendary Rap conglomerate is “a dictatorship.” RZA says, “If Wu-Tang [Clan] is a dictatorship, how does every Wu-Tang member have their own contract, their own career and have put out more albums without me than they’ve done with me? Secondly, if I’m the problem for anybody’s growth and development in music, then why [is it that] after 18 years after everybody got released from the Wu-Tang Productions contract in 2000, your growth has not shown through your own talent then if that’s the problem?” Next week will show whether U-God’s just-released fifth album Venom breaks the Top 200. As a solo act, the Shaolin artist has not made the charts since 1999’s Golden Arms Redemption debut, which RZA executive produced and released on his label.
RZA also defended his family members who are in the music business. “We’ve helped grow the industry through a small company from Staten Island that made it to Manhattan and has success now,” says Bobby Digital. “Look at the facts: The only person who worked for my company from my family were my sister, who was head of video promotion, and because of her job, she triggered success at BET for other executives. My cousin became the president of Wu-Tang Records who put out the gold album Redemption.” RZA appears to be referencing U-God’s Wu-Tang Records debut. However, that LP is not certified as gold with the RIAA. The MC/producer continues, “Of course this is a family business. My brother [Mitchell ‘Divine’ Diggs has] always been that guy in my life…I was the dreamer; he was the doer. It took two of us to make this happen.” RZA also alluded to prominent figures in media with Wu-Tang business backgrounds, including The Breakfast Club‘s Angela Yee, suggesting that it has not been an amateur operation.
In the text, U-God called out RZA for securing a talent management firm for himself but keeping Wu members with the company. The Abbott responds that agents solicit clients. In other words, he was in demand. Moving to another point RZA adds that charging a 10% royalty to use the logo (designed by DJ Mathematics) is justified. After pointing out a lack of support from Wu members on recent group albums, RZA snaps back to his band-mates. “If [a Wu-Tang Clan member is] gonna give [the logo] to [another label] who’s going to make an economic off that, he should at least pay a 10% fee for the usage of my logo. Now 10% is a small fee, in all reality, and that’s all I ask. But instead of paying 10%, they’d rather not use it at all. He’s going to say he has the right to stamp my logo on his product and not compensate my company? Nah, that’s not fair.” Beyond business, RZA says there is a disconnect on the relationship level. “Even on the personal sense, why wouldn’t you give back to the Abbot when you know everybody else gives up on you, he continues to help?”
However, RZA does agree with U-God’s points about Wu-Tang concerts. He is in accordance that there should be more variety to set-lists. In Raw, U-God vented frustrations about not being able to promote new solo material. RZA does not agree. Instead, The Abbott insists that Wu shows are about hits, something that U-God albums lack—at least from a chart position perspective. RZA specifies, “Unless it’s a Top 10 or 20 single, the solo product belongs in the solo show. But I do think that when we do our tours, we definitely seem to be stuck in a certain chamber of music.”
Although Raw: My Journey Into The Wu-Tang may not paint RZA in the best light and million-dollar lawsuits linger, RZA wishes well for his band-mate.”He’s an important piece to this Wu puzzle, and I’ve got nothing but love for him, personally,” says RZA, claiming that U-God has seemed happy in the interviews he has watched.
#BonusBeat: Last month, RZA performed at a party scratching and using headphones as a microphone:
This footage took place at Skratch Bastid’s South By Southwest cookout party.