RZA Discusses Murder Trial, Shooting Which Almost Destroyed Career
RZA, born Robert Diggs, described two incidents that occurred during the Wu's formative years, and almost clipped the group's budding legacy before it started. The first act of fortune involves the Wu's most charismatic member, Method Man, who was saved from a bullet when RZA spotted him attempting buy weed at 160 Park Hill Avenue in Staten Island.
RZA says that when he called out to him, "[Meth] stopped and came running over. A few seconds later -- pow-pow-pow-pow-pow! -- a guy started shooting up the front of 160. A buddy of ours, Poppy, an innocent, school-going, nice guy, he was shot and killed right there."
The house was later seen in the Wu-Tang's 'Protect Ya Neck' video, and Meth went on to enjoy a successful solo/acting career.
"Meth always brings it up ... that that day saved his life," RZA continued. "He actually said, if it was anybody else calling him, he wouldn't have came."
The Wu, whose members were frequently in and out of legal problems in their early years, would never have achieved anything had it not been for RZA, who as the leader and producer kept the group together and functioning. But in 1993, he found himself standing trial on an attempted murder charge and facing eight years in prison. Luckily, he was found not guilty.
"Either one of those incidents could definitely have derailed [Wu-Tang]," he told CNN. "Of course, myself being the Abbot, the one who came with the idea, if I wouldn't have made it out of that tumultuous time -- it seemed like I wasn't going to make it out of it; there was a lot of odds against me, but we stood strong, and self-defense made sense to the jury. We beat that ... It was the victory over that incident that made me change my whole direction," he said.
"In a way, it's double-edged in that incident," he added. "One, if I would've lost that, yeah, Wu-Tang wouldn't have happened, but also it's the victory of it that inspired me and gave me the drive also to go and really get serious about Wu-Tang and the things I was dealing with."
'The Tao of Wu' is published on Thursday (October 15) by Riverhead Books.