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RZA is joining his longtime friend, producer Mathematics, on the press rounds for Mathematics' new album Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues. As you might surmise from the title, the project features Clan members on the mic, and RZA is the executive producer.
When Mathematics and RZA sat down with Funk Flex at Hot 97 this week to promote the project, the Wu-Tang leader did something a little extra. Instead of just talking about new songs and Martin Shkreli disses, Bob Digi decided to spit some rhymes.
RZA dropped a long, three-part rhyme over beats from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Jay Z, and Kodak Black. The first part served as a sort of career retrospective. RZA started out by mentioning the "seven and a crescent" symbol of the Nation of Gods and Earths, the influential Nation of Islam offshoot whose vocabulary and teachings run throughout the Wu's output, and much of the rest of hip-hop as well. From there, RZA mentioned two early-career alter egos—his Gravediggaz persona "the RZArector" and the ostentatious Bobby Digital.
In the second section, over the beat for Jay Z's "Ain't No Nigga," he discusses civil rights briefly, before mentioning his group's controversial Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album. "My portrait got flipped at Art Basel," he rapped. "The last Wu-Tang album, two million appraisal."
The concluding part found RZA looking backwards, to his earliest encounters with hip-hop. He reminisced about how "kids used to spin on their heads" and would sport "truck jewelry": "Rhyming since Rakim kicked the hole inside the speaker/I was poor, I used to have holes inside my sneakers."
He then recounted how he left the street life to begin rapping, and wound down by reminding the world just how unlikely the Wu's success was.
"Started making tracks, making raps, and start to drop bars," he spit. "Turned a group of hip-hop diehard niggas into pop stars." Check out the full freestyle above.