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IN THE STREETS & ON THE WEB

The Genius, GZA, spoke at the ReThink Music conference hosted by Berklee College on the topic of adaptation--how he has managed to stay relevant in hip hop for a full two decades of Wu Tang and solo efforts, even as internet marketing has replaced “1000 miles per week on a street team van.” We sat down with GZA after his speech, and wanted to know a little more about his recent speaking engagements.

Ian Doreian for melophobe:
Impressive touring schedule in Boston: Harvard, MIT, and now with Berklee. What kind of shift is there in preparing for an academic, rather than a music audience?

GZA:
It’s quite different, a whole different arena. It’s quiet; you can hear a pin drop, no music playing. No alcohol; no smoke. No kids surfing the crowd.

melophobe:
It must be tough to pick up on the energy of the crowd; do you know how to shift what you’re going to say?

GZA:
Sometimes it is, but you just have to go for it. You got to look at it like this: with shows, there can be a person who’s looking at me like they don’t like me. They might be my biggest fan, but the way they are staring doesn’t fit. That also happens with the academic crowd. You just have to be in your own element, and do you.

melophobe:
In your speech earlier, you mentioned a strong showing at SXSW with Grupo Fantasma, and I wanted to know if you felt the need to bounce back after the disappointment of 2011?

GZA:
You remember that? It was horrible. I don’t mind speaking about it; it was horrible. Actually, I had a show earlier in the day and I forgot about the second show. And I was drinking shots with Bill Murray.

melophobe:
That’s true? I thought it was some “Coffee and Cigarettes” rumor.

GZA:
That was so true; I was drinking shots with Bill Murray. He was on the side of the stage, and we went to have shots of tequila or whatever. He was actually getting behind the bar and serving them. All of a sudden I felt so messed up. Killah Priest had a van outside, so I went to the van and laid down. Someone started to shake me, talking about another show. Are you kidding? It was a mess; I let down the fans, and lots of people tweeted about it. But, I can accept all of that. I have to take responsibility for my own actions. This year, I owed SXSW a good show.

melophobe:
The theme of your speech was remaining relevant, and you have a revamped website soon to be released, but I wonder the web relevance of Wu Tang when their “official” page hasn’t seen an update in over four months.

GZA:
Wu Tang Corp? I don’t respect that; the website isn’t even in the hands of Wu Tang.

melophobe:
Who’s running it?

GZA:
People in Europe, people loosely connected, people saying all kinds of stupid sh-t even about us, about the Clan. On our “own” site? fu-k Wu Tang Corp; I’m just going to say that.

melophobe:
Is your site an invitation to the rest of the Clan to join up with what you are doing online?

GZA:
There’s always an invitation, but it’s also a way of leading by example.

melophobe:
Last thing. Anything good you’ve been reading?

GZA:
Well, I’m a lazy reader. Back in the hotel I have this book Programing the Universe; a professor at MIT sent it to me. I’ve only gotten through the first few pages, though.

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