RZA, BMI Panel: Wu-Tang Didn’t ‘Have Energy’ Compared to Kanye West
Rev. Run, RZA and DJ Khaled all shared stories of how they found success in music at this year's BMI 'How I Wrote The Song' panel pre-Grammy event at the Key Club in Hollywood, Calif. Saturday (Feb. 11).
Moderated by BMI Vice President of Writer-Publisher Relations Catherine Brewton, and open to the public, each of the panelists gave insight into how they penned some of their biggest records, but also explained their motivation behind getting into music.
"I'm just hip-hop. I wanted to make it somehow [and] I understood that it took work," explained DJ Khaled, who has established himself as a sought-after producer while holding an executive position at Def Jam South. "For 'All I Do Is Win,' I remember going in the studio with T-Pain and he had me waiting for like six months to get my hook. I'm like, 'Pain, man, I gotta win.' I walked in the studio and he had cartoons on, and I was like, 'Yo, he wants me to work, he's trying to make me work for this.' So I was like, 'Ain't nobody gonna outwork me.'"
Khaled's persistence paid off and 'All I Do Is Win,' which was the second single off his 'Victory' album, has since gone platinum and been used as an intro for several sports teams, including the New York Knicks.
For hip-hop legend Rev. Run, his big break came when he decided to start taking risks by making music that, at the time, did not fit into the same box as some of the hip-hop that had already become popular.
"I think that a lot of people have ideas out there but there are people next to you that also have ideas," Rev. Run said. "The things I didn't think was gonna be big ended up being the biggest things that I ever did. I liken that to opening the [pilot chute] on a parachute. If you don't open it, you'll crash."
In RZA's case, despite his accomplishments as the musical mastermind behind the Wu-Tang Clan, scoring music for various films and delving into other aspects of the industry, he still has more to learn.
"Never stop being a student because you learn something everyday," he told the crowd. In working with Kanye West on his 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' album, RZA learned the importance of consistency and dedication.
"You gotta have clear focus," the rapper-turned-producer said. "Kanye would get up in the morning, have breakfast with a whole team of people, he'd go to the gym, they'd work out together, then they'd do a little charity work, and go to the studio. [Kanye would] be the first one there, and last one to leave. My Wu-Tang brothers, we didn't have that kind of energy. We showed up whenever, and I was like, 'Wow, this kind of focus is what is really needed.' If you have a hunger to be No. 1, you have to work hard, put many hours into it. Boxers, they train hard to be No. 1; it's the same thing with songwriting. When you write a song, you don't know if it's going to be a hit or not. You can't think about if it's going to be a hit, it just has to be the most free expression of yourself."
Other panelists included Benji and Joel Madden, members of the alternative rock band Good Charlotte and producer Red One, who is the man behind hits for Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez.
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