NEW YORK — Being admired by Quentin Tarantino has afforded RZA certain perks. Not only did he get a chance to travel around the world and visit the set of America's current top box-office draw, "Kill Bill," as it was being filmed, Bobby Digital's alter ego got a chance to score the film. With all the love already being shown by his friend, RZA didn't want to push it and try to act in the movie as well.
"Somebody tried to tell me, 'Why don't you ask for a part?' " RZA said last week, the day after he attended the New York premiere of the action flick. "I'm the type of person that wouldn't ask for a part. I'm sure if I would have said, 'Yo, Quentin, let me throw a mask on and get sliced real quick,' I would have got sliced. But I knew I had a job and my job was to make sure the soundscape of this movie was as classic as the movie itself, make sure the music does not take away the vision he had."
For the film, the RZA reached from all over. He looked into his crates and reused some records he'd already taken pieces from for Wu-Tang Clan projects, he created new music and also incorporated some ideas and music Tarantino brought to the table (see "RZA, Isaac Hayes, Nancy Sinatra Help Tarantino 'Kill Bill' ").
"The music on the film, I think it did what the film did," he said. "It captured many elements. It kind of told the story along with the movie. Quentin, being a great director, had this vision in mind already. We brought a lot of stuff through the drainer and had to narrow down what was gonna be good. Some of the music though, like the first song [played in the film, Nancy Sinatra's] 'Bang, Bang,' Quentin had this song in mind before he wrote the script. That was years ago. He gave me a copy of that song about two and half years ago. I had a copy of the song before I had a copy of the script.
"So that's why I really enjoyed working with him," RZA continued. "He's a real genius at what he does. All I had to do was add seasoning salt to it. It was already tasting delicious; I just had to sprinkle this, sprinkle that."
RZA said a daunting task he faced while working on "Kill Bill" was a dramatic fight scene toward the end between Uma Thurman's character, the Bride, and members of the Japanese mafia called the Crazy 88.
"My most challenging scene was when the Crazy 88 runs in [the House of Blue Leaves]," RZA revealed. "Then it shows Gordon Liu with his mask on and the beat comes in. Everybody gets in a circle around [Uma] and they're all getting ready to fight. It took me three days to compose that piece of music right there. I had to build it up like a band was playing it and I had build it up with the scene. You will see the hand movements of the fighters is going with the music."
RZA, who spent a total of 30 days on sets in China, Mexico and Los Angeles observing and picking up jewels from Tarantino, was especially impressed with Thurman's steadfast acting.
"I got an education during this film," RZA professed. "I take my hat off to Uma. I was telling her last night, I'm proud of her as an artist. If you would have seen how many times she had to do these scenes over. Quentin would be like, 'Good one, good one. Let's do one more [take].' She was Zen. She didn't riff, not one time. For me, it would've been a fight for all these times to make something happen."
The man with the golden fangs was also impressed with himself. The normally straight-faced Staten Island, New York, native admits to cracking a cheese smile when seeing his name on the big screen during the credits.
"I ain't gonna front; I take that as a blessing and accomplishment," RZA said. "I cheesed up last night at the afterparty. People was like, 'I ain't never seen you cheesing up.' It's a good accomplishment for hip-hop."
For a full-length feature on "Kill Bill," check out "Kill Bill: Looking For Blood." For Kurt Loder's take on the film, check out " 'Kill Bill' An Explosive Return To Form For Quentin Tarantino, By Kurt Loder".