cover image The Tao of Wu

The Tao of Wu

RZA, . . Riverhead, $24.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-1-59448-885-6

This hodgepodge of memoir, spiritual advice and poetry is a sincere attempt by the RZA, Wu Tang Clan founder and producer, to impart his accumulated life wisdom through the lens of hip-hop and idiosyncratic personal religion. To this end, the book opens with a series of paragraphs defining wisdom (“Wisdom is woman,” “Woman is the word”) and continues with the full Webster's Dictionary definition of wisdom. Repetition and generalization are problems, but serious fans of the Wu-Tang Clan, who surely are all of the potential readers for this book, will find some interesting stories of the RZA's early days through some diligent skimming. He writes about saving Method Man's life at the scene of a drug deal gone bad on Staten Island, the emotional connections shared in the projects over viewings of kung-fu movies and the marathon home production sessions during which he created the backing tracks for years' worth of albums for his cohorts. The spiritual message of the book can be hard to parse: the RZA embraces 5 Percent Nation Muslim teachings as well as Zen Buddhism—the latter is the basis for a mind-numbing section of “Hip-Hop Koans” that includes “Don't hate the player; hate the game.” Chess tips and a case for vegetarianism also factor into this singular work. (Oct.)