To Wu-Tang fans, RZA and the talented crew of rappers he produced will always stand for groundbreaking hip-hop. But for television fans these days, his starring role as a cop on the new Fox series Gang Related might be what he gains the most mainstream recognition from. As for the upcoming Wu “art project” he didn’t offer much, but you can read about that here.)
Listen above to hear RZA talk about working with Cher, and how hip-hop dreamers have influenced others to dream big and succeed.
On the show, RZA plays Cassius Green, a DEA agent recruited by LAPD to help bring down gangs. Lost’s Terry O’Quinn plays the unit’s leader, LAPD captain Sam Chapel. Gang Related is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a show that deals with gang violence and it doesn’t hold back on the kill count – the number of bodies that gets dropped each show.
It kind of takes a look at the gang violence that really happens in the streets of Los Angeles, the streets of Chicago, the streets of Cleveland and around the country. Sometimes it’s the Brown against the black – the Mexicans against the brothers and it kind of takes a look at that.” As ironic as it is that RZA plays a DEA agent, he says it’s just a natural progression.
He’s already amassed several movie and TV credits, including writing (with Eli Roth) and directing a martial arts film, 2012’s The Man With The Iron Fists.
“It’s kind of funny, you’d never expect a guy like me to come and be on this side of the law. I’ve come a long way since my crazy Wu-Tang days,” RZA says. The violence in Gang Related, gratuitous or not, is part of an effort by networks to compete with cable with is allowed much more leeway with sex, violence and language than they are, though the gap is closing.
“I think that’s something special about the Fox Network on this particular show. They usually would end up on cable but they are changing their game plan and their production status. I felt like when I first read the script it felt like a movie. Thursday night is not the night you want to go to the movies because you got to work Friday. On Thursday nights at 9 p.m., you can watch Gang Related and get that movie feel right in your living room.”