With blurbs from Cornel West and Sifu Shi Yan Ming, the founder of the USA Shaolin Temple (who also provides the book’s foreword), The Tao of Wu aims to position RZA, in West’s words, as a “towering artist and deep thinker who has much to teach us.” Given the history and dominant discourse of young black men (especially those who rap) as anything but reasoning or reasonable, this book is evidence to the contrary. But this does not appear to be RZA’s aim. Consider the following quotes, which provide bookends to his narrative:
“If you live in the projects, you don’t leave them much.”
“And God will show and prove that he is the Universal Changer.”
An account as much about leaving the American ghetto as it is about a search for God, The Tao of Wu is one-part memoir, one-part spiritual narrative (the preferred form for asserting black subjectivity back to the days of Equiano), and one-part Hip Hop history (tied to a history of the Wu Tang Clan). If I were to play on the value that MCs place on wordplay, than I might describe it as his-story—that is, this is RZA’s account of rap’s rise from obscurity organized by his own quest for enlightenment and fame.
I know zero about hip-hop but I've been curious. I loved this article. Read the rest of it here.
Find out more at amazon.com's page for this book.