The two songs that shaped a 10-year-old RZA
(Credit: David Shankbone)

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The two songs that shaped a 10-year-old RZA

The Wu-Tang Clan were a formidable force in the 1990s. With their lo-fi production and grimy, abrasive edge, the Clan made music that resonated with the city of New York. Founded by RZA (real name Robert Diggs) in the depths of Staten Island, the Clan rapidly ascended to the top of the hip-hop charts and made history with their projects

RZA was the collective’s beatmaker and founder. The musician and actor was known for his lof-fi and gritty production style that became the signature sound of the Staten Island group, and he has since grown to become a versatile icon.

As an adolescent living in the Stapleton Houses, a housing scheme in the island’s impoverished Stapleton neighbourhood, Diggs was exposed to a range of music by his friends but also through the radio. In an interview with Pitchfork, the beatmaker unveiled some of the songs that shaped him as a 10-year-old. 

During his discussion, he unveiled that he was very aware of the exciting music coming out of the Bronx, stating, “When I was 10 years old, I was definitely in tune. When ‘Rapper’s Delight’ first came out, I didn’t hear it. I was already writing my own little raps and shit. It came out when I was about nine.”

He continued, “But I remember a kid in the neighbourhood knew I was trying to do little raps of my own, and we used to always walk up to each other and rap to each other. He walked up to me, and he was like this, ‘After school, I take a dip in the pool, which is really off the wall / I got a colour TV so I can see the Knicks play basketball.’ And I was like, ‘Oh shit! The boy’s good!’ I didn’t know he stole it from the song. I guess he heard it before I heard it.”

However, Diggs later realised there was a longer version of ‘Rapper’s Delight’, which had been interpolated by Jimmy Spicer in the track, ‘Adventures of Super Rhyme.’ Expressing his love for the 1980 single, the Stapleton native explained, “Oh, ‘Super Rhymes’ man, that song! First of all, me, my brothers and, my cousins, we would sing the whole ‘Rapper’s Deligh'” all the way through. Then, the other song, ‘The Adventures of Super Rhymes.

He concluded by proclaiming, “Yo, to me, that motherfucker killed it. He went through so many different raps through the whole song. It was an adventure, man” You can listen to ‘Rapper’s Delight’ and ‘Adventures of Super Rhyme’ below.