Story and Direction by: Amir Shaw
Images by: DeWayne Rogers for Steed Media Service
RZA never makes a move without careful thought. Moments after walking on to the set for his exclusive photo shoot with rolling out, RZA pulled a chair up to the edge of a chessboard and began playing himself in the strategic game. Before moving each chess piece, he studied the board as if facing a formidable opponent.
Seeing the chessboard from both sides has advantages. For RZA, his solitary chess game wasn’t just to kill time. It was an example of how he approaches life.
“I apply mathematics to my way of life,” RZA revealed when asked about the creation of the Wu-Tang Clan. “Chess is a game that allows you to think ahead. I had the vision of what I could do with the Wu-Tang Clan. I went back to my neighborhood and got all of my emcee buddies. I told them that if they gave me five years of their life, I could take them to number one. In five years, we were at the top of the charts.”
Indeed, RZA was the mastermind behind the Wu-Tang Clan and the acclaimed solo releases from Ol Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and GZA.
The Wu-Tang Clan is one of the most heralded rap crews in rap music history. But RZA was never satisfied with only achieving success in hip-hop. He wanted to take his vision to another level.
He took the same principles that propelled Wu-Tang Clan to greatness, and applied them to his venture into filmmaking.
This week, RZA’s directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, hits theaters nationwide. A rapper-producer helming a $20 million motion picture might be considered a checkmate in chess terms. But those who have followed RZA’s career since the ’90s, know that this is only an opening move, much like the Queen’s Gambit.