Shaolin Studies

March 07, 2005

Now that we've had a few months to delve into the Wu-Tang Manual, it's proven itself to be more than the latest exercise in inscrutable grandiosity on the part of Robert Diggs, aka the RZA, aka The Abbot, aka... yeah, you know. Once past the conventional stuff in book one, the reader enters "The Way of the Wu," wherein Diggs, a widely read autodidact, sets out an assertive synthesis of the various strands of his thinking.

Thus a dissertation on capitalism sits alongside the myth of Perseus adjacent to quotes from Karpov and Kasparov and an appreciation of Jim Jarmusch. Then there's a bit featuring key Wu songs with certain words or phrases explained, if you're smoked out enough to care, while the last book dwells more on Diggs' own reminiscences and maxims.

Somewhere between Thoreau, Huxley and Lester Bangs, the RZA is a uniquely American transcendentalist, and thus the Manual deserves its place not just on your shelves but probably on posterity's too. After all it's written by the only hip-hopper alive who would ever quote John Barrymore in his artist's statement. And that's word to the Gods.

Posted: March 07, 2005
Shaolin Studies