RZA & Alex Tse
Bring Da Ruckus with Wu-Tang: An American Saga
By George Seth Wagner
From the slums of Shaolin, the Wu-Tang Clan strikes again. The RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah, and the Method Man. 30 years later you still know them. Whether you’re dusting off your original edition vinyl of Enter the Wu-Tang or opening Spotify to listen to The Saga Continues, the Wu is timeless.
Now the group is tackling a fresh territory — television. Led by RZA and Alex Tse, Wu-Tang: An American Saga has opened its second season on Hulu to much love from fans and critics alike.
PopEntertainment sits down with the show’s creators Alex Tse (Watchmen) and original Wu-Tang member RZA to discuss everything from what it took to make this show, the Wu as a group, the actors, and more.
We’re nearing the 30th anniversary of Wu-Tang and the group still are as culturally relevant as you were in the ’90s, which is a hard thing to maintain. What’s the impact of that for you?
RZA: I think purity, something that’s pure, always exists. Like a diamond, it’s still going to be a diamond. I think Wu is like that. We were one of those diamonds that was discovered by the audience, by the fans. Also, the discovery of ourselves and coming together with our unity, I think it’s like a diamond value. No matter, what every generation is going to recognize the value of a diamond one day, right? Here we are close to 30 years later, and I think it’s really poignant that Wu-Tang is being put back in front of the world in a new way. In a new medium, yet still being a source of inspiration.
Alex, were you a Wu-Tang fan previously? If so, did this become a passion project? How did you just get involved with this show?
Alex Tse: [I] was a huge Wu-Tang fan. In fact, I probably thought I knew everything about Wu-Tang until I met RZA. Then I was like, oh, I don’t know nothing about Wu-Tang. It’s beyond a passion project. It would have been a passion project if RZA wasn’t my partner, or if it was just a story. It’s a great responsibility. I felt the same about Watchmen, but even more so in that RZA is my partner. You don’t ever want to let him down or not come through. So, it’s beyond that for me.
I totally feel you. For both of you, what made you decide it was time to share the story of Wu-Tang with the world? I’m also wondering what made you guys decide to do a TV show over the popular music biopic that’s made a resurgence recently?
RZA: That’s a great question. We felt that Wu-Tang can’t be contained in two hours. It’s going to be hard to contain it in 20, 30, 40, and 50 hours. (laughs) That’s a lot of story there. We just wanted to really open up that door and let all the inspiration, the obstacles, all that be put in front of an audience, so maybe it could be a map for another young mind. I’ll pass the mic to Alex.
Alex Tse: Especially, getting to know RZA, knowing all the things [making it into a movie] wasn’t really on the table at that point. What may have been on the table was like, “Is this maybe a limited [series]?” Even then, I felt like it would be a disservice because there’s so much story there. The nerd in me was like, nah, man, we got to show (laughs)… because the nerd in me… we’ll watch some other music biopics that will remain nameless. That will be like, no. I remember reading about this, why is that not in the movie? Or like, if I know this person wrote this song, why is that not in the movie? To me, this was built to be told over many hours. That’s how I’ve always felt, once him and I got to sit down.
Something I’ve been wondering personally is what was it like working with TJ Atoms, who has to figure out how to properly portray such a polarizing and complex figure like ODB, who was like always stood out to me ever since…
Alex Tse: I see you though, you reppin’ Philly though. [Atoms is from my hometown of Philadelphia] That’s cool. I know you’re reppin’ Philly too. You got to go hometown on that. Sorry, I had to cut you off (laughs)
No, you’re completely fine. (laughs)
RZA: Also, if you look at TJ, he’s actually standing out. We as creators and going in our writer’s room, we paced him as well. One thing I suppose we can say is we pacing the story like we pace an album. It starts off with “Bring Da Ruckus.” You don’t hear ODB on “Bring Da Ruckus” but by the time you hear him on “Shame [On a N****]”, you like yo! Then he goes twice on “Shame [On a N****]” you know what I mean? Point being made is that when you look at a TJ in the first season, you meet him, but you get deep into him. Then in the second season, we take you to his neighborhood, you know what I mean? And you’re like, wow, I love this guy even more. Especially what he yells out: “I’m the one-man army ason!”
Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 6, 2021.
Photos ©2021 George Seth Wagner. All rights reserved.