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The Wu-Tang Clan rapper-producer-director boasts 16 names and plays a mean game of chess – and he’s had the last laugh over the disgraced ‘pharma-bro’
Hello, RZA! When members of the Wu-Tang Clan are together, do you call each other by your Wu names or your given names?
Most of the time we’re with each other, we’ll call each other by one of our nicknames, and no telling which nickname is going to be used that day. For instance, I’m hanging with Meth (1). He had some new friends with him, and they’d known him for two years, maybe. And I’m calling: “Hey, Johnny, everything good?” “Ah, doin’ good, Bobby (2).” And they’re: “Why you calling him Johnny?” And I say: “It’s Johnny Blaze, from the Cuban Linx album.” And when I see Ghost, I call him Tony (3). When I see Raekwon, I call him Chef (4). They call me Abbot. Cos I’m the Abbot. U-God had Golden Arms, call him Goldie (5). But whatever name you call one of us, we respond. I know when they say Steels, that’s me.
And you are variously RZA, Prince Rakeem, the RZArector, Bobby Steels, Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah, Prince Delight, Abbot, Bobby Digital or 9th Prince. Do they all express different facets of your personality?
I would say so. A name is a description of an attribute. In the holy Qur’an – this is not a sacrilegious analogy – there are 99 names of Allah. Plus one, and the one you will never know. I got 16. I’m working my way up.