The GZA on Writing

Posted by @ 5:18 pm on July 6th, 2011

“One time a producer asked me, ‘what kinda beats do you like?”‘ That’s like asking me how does energy look? I can’t tell you that.”

“It should be clever. It should be fly. It should be hard. I think it should be gangsta. I can do songs that have only one profane word and it will sound just as hard as having a bunch of very profane words, because I can deliver it like that. And a lot of artists don’t realize this because they don’t control it—the environment controls them.”

“She asked me, ‘what’s your song about?’ I said, ‘it’s hip hop’ – I’m not being funny, I’m being blunt. She was like, ‘I know it’s hip hop, but what are you talkin’ about?” I’m speakin’ about so many different things… The majority of my shit is just a whole bunch of shit, but still a clear picture. You can come off deep without trying to be deep.”

“Y’know, it’s like imagine scratchin’ a lottery ticket, y’know? Sometimes you really got to go beneath to see what’s under there, if you won, y’know? It’s like listening to the album over and over. Go beneath it, listen. Listen.”

“You might not catch it for like two years or three years. You might not catch it. I’m not sayin’ that it’s deep, that what I write is so, so deep where it requires research. It doesn’t. It requires thinking.”

“It doesn’t make a difference whether you live it or you don’t. I can write about stuff I don’t live, the person who wrote Harry Potter you think they lived all that shit?! I don’t have to physically own a Rolls Royce to talk about being in one. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with talking about cars or clothes, but shit, make it interesting.”

“With the clock you can be winning on the board, but losin’ in time. It can really throw your game off. It’s like the best thing to do is not to even pay attention to the clock, like it’s not even there. If your time runs out, it runs out.”

“The majority of people are not gonna catch the lyrics at all. But I do it for myself.. Whether you catch it or you don’t, I don’t wanna make it simple. It may sound simple but…It’s like I say ‘On a man made lake there’s a sheet of ice/unskilled skaters couldn’t figure eight twice.’ I’m talkin’ about ice you can skate on. I could be talkin’ about jewelry, y’know? Then I say ‘they couldn’t figure eight twice.’ That’s sixteen, ‘cuz 8 and 8 is 16. Then I say ‘Uncut direct from the Colt.’ Now I’m talkin’ about a gun, but I don’t have to say gun. ‘Head on assault/the result was death by the bulk.’ It’s like you can see it so many different ways. That’s how it is.”

“Wu is the sound when a sword swings. Tang is what you hear when it hits an object or another sword. The tongue is a sword, when in motion it produces wind, just like when I speak. Everything is connected.”

“I don’t really know too much about astrology, but I can relate to the universe and the stars, because that’s me, that’s us, y’know.”