As for a full-blown Wu-Tang reunion, the rapper/producer says, "You just never know with us, man."
The upcoming action-adventure film "The Man With The Iron Fists" not only allowed Wu-Tang Clan majordomo RZA to flex his muscles in acting, directing and screenwriting, but also let him put together a pretty hot soundtrack.
"It took us about eight months to score this film," RZA tells Billboard. "Then we were able to get some other great artists from the industry to come in and bless the soundtrack. We took the score music and then made it into song form and got people like Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, the Black Keys, Corrine Bailey Rae, Pusha T, the entire Wu-Tang Clan -- which I'm really happy about. The film is a great watch, and I think we really have a piece of eclectic music for the film that's a great listen."
RZA himself features on three songs from the 16-song set, which comes out Oct. 23 (the film opens Nov. 2). He joined Flatbush Zombies for "Just Blowin' in the Wind" and teamed with the Black Keys for "The Baddest Man Alive."
"That was great," he recalls. "Dan (Auerbach) and Pat (Carney) are just two cool guys from Ohio. We actually wrote the song and recorded it before I started filming, and when the film was done we were looking for songs for certain scenes. This song came across our radar and we contacted Dan and Pat to see if they could give me a stronger mix for the film and the found time to do it."
The album's first single is "Built For This" featuring Method Man, Freddie Gibbs and StreetLife, and the film score includes a variety of material from the Stax vaults for various cues. Meanwhile, RZA assembled Wu-Tang Clan for the track "Six Directions of Boxing." "That title is from one of my favorite Kung Fu movies," he says. "For me to have six Wu-Tang members going back to back, that's like another kind of boxing for me. GZA doesn't really do compilations like this but he came on board and added his lyrics, his flavor to the song, and U-God, he really came hard and his voice is so immaculate. The DJs are gonna have a lot of fun spinning that one." As to whether the track might jump-start more Wu-Tang work, RZA simply says, "You just never know with us, man."
RZA has put most of his other musical concerns on hold for the time being to promote the film, which is being "presented" by his mentor, Quentin Tarantino, and co-stars Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu in a story about a lone warrior who assists a Chinese village in a battle over a gold fortune. The movie was filmed in China, and RZA considers the project a crowning artistic achievement in his career so far.
"Directing has been the most challenging job to date for me," he says. "Working with Wu-Tang Clan prepared me for this, actually, the big organization we have. It was preparation. But this was like running a small country, man; we had hundreds of people working for us and so many details, very meticulous ideas that had to be executed and focused on, as well as the trust of some great talent. I love it, though -- just the way you could take an idea and imagination and bring it to fruition. I feel we all found something new and original, and when the world accepts it and absorbs it and shows it some love, I'll keep moving on and building hip-hop in this direction."