GZA – The Genius Among Geniuses

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GZA was the guest of honor last week as he voyaged to Cambridge, Massachusetts to visit two of the world's renowned academic institutions to engage in his first ever lecture. It began with his childhood influences of Kung Fu movies, chess and nursery rhymes, and eventually transitioning to his world views from a scientific and spiritual standpoint in which he notably stated “every being and object within the universe is connected somehow, whether visibly or invisibly....from micro to macro…the deeper one sees into life, the wider life opens itself to one.” Prior to his lecture at Harvard, he was also invited to a panel of great minds at MIT to discuss quantum physics, biology and oceanography – all of which that will play an influential role in his upcoming album. GZA’s parting message of the lecture: “Live a life full of humility, gratitude, intellectual curiosity and never stop learning.” We were in attendance for the event and were fortunate enough to pick his brain on a few topics.

You were invited to Harvard and MIT to give a guest lecture and also partake in several activities involving quantum physics, biology and then some. Can you share with us how this all came about?
It was at the request of the Harvard’s Black Men’s forum in which they invited me to speak. Lecturing was something I’ve always wanted to branch into, and where better to start than the most famous university in the world (Harvard). My lecture included discussions about my clan, my craft, my creative process, and my inspirations.

You’ve been nicknamed “The Genius” for your wisdom within the Wu-Tang Clan and your intellect is also present in your song lyrics. That said, lecturing seems to be a natural platform for you. Is this something you’ll be doing more extensively?
I think it would be amazing to become a full-time educator. But I don’t have any delusions about what that would involve in terms of time, dedication and effort. I’m not there yet, however I do hope to lecture extensively around the world one day. As for subject matter, I have so many interests and topics to share with the people that I couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

You mentioned that this visit to Harvard and MIT would play a large influence towards your new album, what were some of the things you came across you think will inspire you on this new project?
Just being on the campus itself, literally feet on the grounds, and feeling the vibrations of the academic legacy of the institutions such as Harvard and MIT, I was able to further my knowledge and education which, up until now, has been largely self-acquired. It was an incredible privilege to be able to speak to some of the greatest thinkers in their fields. I hope to form lifelong bonds with people of like mind and interests.

Any features or other key elements outside of this visit which will be on this album?
I can’t really comment on my new album right now, as it’s still in the process of concepts and still in its formative stages. However, I will say that my visit to Cambridge will certainly relate to it in some form or fashion.

As a veteran in the game and seeing how it was and where it is today, what are your thoughts on the hip-hop industry today?
Many people would hope I say it’s in a bad place, but I don’t really believe that. What I will say though, is that due to commercial constraints, we’re just not hearing enough diversity in music. We’re not hearing enough sophistication in lyrical and musical content.
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Are there any new acts out there that draw to your attention?
To be honest, when I’m in writing mode, which I am now, I really don’t have a chance to listen to the radio. But when I do turn it on, I just hear the same few artists over and over again and the repetition dulls my interests.

Music has been the foundation, but we’ve seen the Wu become part of other endeavors such as movies and products. Are there any other non-music related projects in the works?
I do have a number of them I’m working on, but can’t talk about all of them as of yet. I can say that I’m working in the areas of publishing, film and television. One of the things I’m most excited about is finishing my Wu-Tang documentary that’s been almost a decade in the making!

Do you have any final words?
THANK YOU.

Special thanks to Sophia Chang for having us and putting together a great event. More information on his visit to Harvard and MIT is available at The Harvard Crimson and The Boston Globe.

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By Davis Huynh / Interviews / December 15, 2011 / 7563 Views