Wu-Tang's RZA brings the noise at CESCNET's Brian Tong sits down with Wu-Tang's RZA at CES to talk about his new Boombotix bluetooth speaker, and the future of wearable technology.
[MUSIC] All right, welcome back to the CNET stage, live from CES 2015. I'm Brian Clough and joining, oh oh, is the rizza, aka Bobby Digital, aka Prince Rakeem- Ya mon' Aka the scientist. Ya mon! Aka aka aka, a. [INAUDIBLE] you were already, actually you know what. >I was, I was, I'm sure the music guys in the back were flattered because you were feeling that beat just then, huh? Yeah, I started to bust a quick lyric on you, but you know, I don't know. You know what I mean? You all know I mean? Maybe, maybe, maybe. I see you over there. [LAUGH] There you go, there you go. So welcome to CES. This is your, actually your first year here? That's what you told me back there. Yeah, my first time here and I'm having a good time here, man. I mean. So many gadgets, so many cool people. You know, a lot of people don't know that a lot of us hip hoppers gotta nerd bone inside of us. [LAUGH] You know what I mean? I don't wanna know if I, I don't know if I wanna know your nerd bone, if you know what I mean. Well, I got one nerd bone in my. [LAUGH] And when I came to CES, it, it kinda got excited. Uh-oh. Uh-oh. No, no, it's fully funded. I'm having a great time, and ,. And, and, and really, I came out with the company Boombotix and we have this thing called the Boombot Rex, which I'm excited about because I think we discovered a new way to sell music and get music back into the hands of the consumer, you know what I mean. And this is Bom Bom Booboo. The Bom, the Bom Booboo. The Bom Bom Booboo. Is that your official name with that? Now over here we have the Boombotix Rex plus. This was just announced as a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, but we also have these two Wu-Tang 20th Anniversary Editions. You talk about creating music and distributing it in a unique way. One of these ways is packing them in a product like this, right? Yeah. So when you buy the the boombox rex, it already has the album embedded. So usually when you, you know, usually when you, even if you was to buy a CD, you gotta go home and put it in your car, or something like that. This is automatic pleasure. You pull it out, you hit the button, bong, bong, it comes on, you hit play, and party starts. It's like, bong, bong on your bun. Exactly. You know what makes this one cool, though? I gotta, I gotta say this to you, because. Yeah, do it, do it. When we was thinking about it, we's, like, wouldn't it be a great use. I live in L.A. now, and there are a lot of beach parties and a lot of pool parties, so this one is made to go underwater. Like three feet underwater. Three feet underwater. Three feet deep. So you know, you at the pool party and the girl wanna jump in shhh. And you go, man, I wanna get in, too. And you got the music. You just jump in, shhh. And you all can just get that party going under water. You know. Under water love video. The under water party. Now, you know? Another thing that is really intriguing is the fact that you have been working on this album six plus years. Right, once upon a time and Shaolin, Wu Tang Clan, One of One album. A lot of people. That art fans or casual fans kind of know about this but you kind of have a statement about music and the direction it's going in by doing this one of one. Like there will be no other way to distribute it, right? Yeah, this. That's to, to show, you know, music has been devalued. And one thing I think we overlook and I think, not the people here because I think here we got a lot of intellectuals but we overlook the artistic value. Of what music is and what art is. If you look at something like the Mona Lisa, there's only one. Or the sculpture of David, there's only one. So we're treating this album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin like a piece of art. It's not something that, you know, if you wanna see the Mona Lisa you gotta fly the France, you know what I mean? So this will be a one peice of art that's a fingerprint of our times. A fingerprint of six years of work. A fingerprint of other great artists coming together. I mean we had people from. I mean even Cher came and blessed this. Yeah, yeah. I mean could keep going on. And and even when we made the box we had to commission a guy. Who's usually only commissioned by the royal family of Saudi. And he made the packaging for us. And we all knew that this was going to be something that's kind of like an heirloom. You know, I was watching the news on the east coast this winter and, somebody in Boston found a old time capsule. That he think that Benedict, one of the, one of the famous [INAUDIBLE] buried. And he was gonna open it up on TV to find what he was thinking, and what was life like during that time. To me, the Once Upon A Time In Shaolin album is that for our time. So are you gonna beh? I mean, there's a, I've read and heard that people are actually bidding for this because, like you said, it's a one of a kind piece of art from your mind, from the Wu Tang Clan. I mean, this is, no one, no one's really done something like this. You don't want to bury this, though, right? I've, I've read that you want to kinda put on an exhibition featuring some of your other works. Yeah. Some things like that. Man, I would love for it to tour around the world like how some art exhibits. Do. We are. They'll be a big announcement they're going to make I think January 28th. What I can tell you today, though, is that there's an auction company known as Pado 8. Who actually won us over and they will be the one who will deal with the auction. And they will take it to the art world and go through the proper procedure. So I want to say [UNKNOWN]. And I think then people that understand the concept, I'm glad to have them onboard with us. Now another thing that maybe you can kind of add on to that story is that we've heard that there were bids of two million, even as high as five million initially for the album. Yeah. So, I mean, has it reached higher than that, or is it, you know, where is it at right now? Well I don't. Well [INAUDIBLE] has tooken it over since then. So they would let us know, you know, what the final number is. It's not just, it's not really just about the money. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I make money from a lot of things that I do, you know what I mean? But it's really about that person who wants to possess this pice of history, you know? There's really no price that you could put on it. If I was to talk about the Wutang album Wutang Forever which sold four million copies at $25 a piece, that's a value of something you know what I mean? But I don't wanna talk about the value of it, you know? I think that when the person gets to he would have something that's absolutely priceless. Yeah, so stepping away from just the cost of everything. What are, you've seen music from the, from the start, with Hip Hop, but you've also seen how technology, you know, music digitally, you know, sent out to people, iTunes, and now these music subscription services. What are your thoughts on that as how it's changed the music game, for good or for better, you know, from you. I think it's a balance. If you look at you know music subscription and people able to stream music and subscribe the same way we subscribe to film. I'm [INAUDIBLE] it's something unique about that. But what we doing with this here, we trying to put it back in your hand as well. So I think that there need. there needs to be a balance. It's okay to have your music streaming on your buddies or you in your car or whatever. But what about if you're in the woods wanting to hang out by yourself and be your own man in your own world. That's where this come in at. So if, if, I think that if other artists would take a look at the Boom Box Rex and say to themselves. You know, this is gonna part of my release. You know, you can put it on Spotify, you can put it on iTunes, you can put it on CD. And, and even vinyl is making a comeback. But also, I wanna put it on this Bluetooth speaker device. So this is gonna be, I think, a new way for people to release their music. So your, your take is, you're okay with these different formats, but you kind of also want to bring back that physical good. Yeah. To music, right? Listen. I'm okay, look. I don't, I'm a producer. So I make music with [UNKNOWN], Pro Tools, Nuendo, I got the, the native instrument machine. By same time, I got a real piano. I got a real guitar. I've got a real set of drums. So some days, of course, I want to bang on my drum machine or if I'm flying 30,000 miles in the sky and I'm. An able channel market on my laptop. That's fun. But when I'm living in the experience of it. Or my friends come over to have a good time. We pull our guitars out. We get a bottle of wine and we have a physical time. So I think you gotta have both sides covered. All right, well, let's shift gears a little bit. You're here at CES. And one of the themes here is wearables. Right? They're putting fitness in sensors. I would like people to see your wearable, that, that you have right now. If we can bring the camera up on this. I mean, this is definitely a one. Of a kind, Wu-Tang bling watch. [NOISE] Now would you, there, there's so much that's out there about an Apple watch. I mean, to me a watch is so personal and it's a fashion piece. What are your thoughts on this whole. Smart watch push that a lot of the companies are putting out. No, I actually dig it. Because, you know, we think about, you know, you know, I'm a 70's baby. So that's when the spies and James Bond and everybody was out. And we always wanted to have a phone in our watch. You know, Matt Helm. So for us to see that some of that imagination has become a reality, I think that's really cool. You know, I've been thinking about something called cosmetic electronics for a long time anyway. You know what I mean? I'm happy that other companies and people are venturing down that way. There's more things I think we could do, you know, to make it wearable. Because it is, like, I'm looking at your little style right here. I see you, you got your cool watch on. Not as cool as that one. I see, but you rock it though. And I like the bracelet you got right there. I got, got some bracelet style here. Now, what if that had another, another thing that, you know, another option to it. Like, if it, if it was this cool and it still took your pulse and kept your. Your daily, you know, statistics going it'd be cool. I mean, I'm okay with that. I think for me just it's weird right? I cover technology everyday, I'm all about tech, but sometimes there's times where I actually wanna step away from it. Right. Personally. And so if my wrist is buzzing and blinging everyday. I don't know if I, if I want that right? You're on a nice date with your lady, an intimate moment, the person you love, and your wrist is the one buzzing? You know what's funny about that? Do you want that? Yo, no, you know what's going to happen to you? That's funny because after awhile, after the buzzing of your wrist, and then you take it off and you gonna think your wrist is buzzing but it's going to be not. Like sometimes you hear your phone ringing but it don't be ringing right? The ghost vibration in your pocket, that's what you're talking about. Yeah. The Ghost vibration. The ghost. You know what I'm gonna do for you? Let's do it. I'm gonna say this to you. You're better off being Johnny Malkovich before you bout with this alcomis. I'll attach a falcon claw to the tip of the iron fist. And I'll polverise MC's brains out. The Wootang is out like a orangutan is out of a cage. With a 12 gauge flame is out. [MUSIC] I cause your body physiology to stomp and dance. To ab it with the tablets and rap tips. I roll it with the Wu Tang Clan. Nine men who I used to laugh with and used to bust caps with. There we go! Dang! There we go! Boom! Drop the Wu like that! Yea anyway, anyway... [LAUGH] He's like yea, you know I used to do something like this all the time That's what so cool about the phones yo, I got like thirty rhymes in my phone. It's like, hold on, let's go do another one. Nope. [LAUGH] Right on the fly. You, you just put them on there. Put them in right in there. Right? Is it cool, or what, huh? Yeah, it is cool man. Come on! Now also, you know, you do a lot of acting. You know, the directing, producing, screenwriting. You know, I watched a few episodes of Gang Related. Even, you know, even before I knew you were a part of that show. That was a cool show. That was a cool show. That was a cool show. And unfortunately, it did, you know, people, it didn't stick, it's. It came out for season one but we also have things like Netflix, right? That can sometimes bring shows back to life or introduce them to new audiences. How, how do you see digital working, you know, in that way? How do you, how do you see that? No, I think that's a great attitude to our industry. I mean I actually thought they can be to more of a Netflix type of show. You know, you know. I was very surprised that FOX actually took a risk with such a show that was so gritty, multi ethnics in it and the subject matter was crazy. So the good thing is to see TV realizing that the competition is growing around them and they are willing to adapt to the fit competition. But the second thing is that you have formats like Netflix and Roku and Hulu and all these guys who are who are making content. And their content is specific to certain things. But there's an audience out there for it. You know, I watch the El Rey network. Mm hm. Now I don't know if you know this network but you gotta check out this network No no. Yo. On Saturdays afternoon they show Kung Fu movies. [LAUGH] We know you love your Kung Fu flicks. On Thursday they got Kung Fu Thursdays. [LAUGH] On, for, for Christmas this year, they had all the Godzilla movies [LAUGH] that's playing. All the Kaiju films. All the Kaiju. But then also. They showed you rare films that inspired other directors, you know? Whether they had Toro on, they had Tarantino on, they had John Carpenter on, of course Robert Rodriguez. And just, it's a network that for me, it's the filmmakers network, because you get to watch the films that inspired the people who are the elite in our business. So. I think the, the way, that the, the way that technology is changing our world. Whether you know, some, right now they have the apps you can have TV on your phone. Yeah. So your kid can be in the back seat like this, Yes, Spongebob. You know what I mean? [LAUGH] But these things have their benefits, of course, and they have their downfalls as well, but. I'm gonna join to benefit something right now. And is there one thing that from when you started that has really surprised you the most? Is there any kind of single piece of technology that you've been like, wow, I can't imagine, I could have never imaged that I could do that today? How has tech kinda wowed you? Hm, that's a good one. Well, well one thing that impressed me, I'm gonna go on a music level, is. They have figured out a way to turn audio to MIDI. I always wanted to do that, yo. That means that you can take a song you like and change it to a MIDI file and then manipulate it and then every instrument inside your computer will relate to that MIDI file. Mm-hm. That has never been done. I mean for years, you know, if you want to take like, let's say you got a person like yourself, and you want to make the beat. Make a, make a, make a beat. Cut. All right. He cut me off. I got to cut. If the RZA says cut, you cut. No, yeah. But the cool thing is that now they could take that. Data, and a drum machine will play it back for you. And you could build a track on that. And so I remember one day, I heard Pharrell and Kanye on a radio station, Hot 97 in New York. And they were saying like, yeah we start all our beats with our, with a, with a beatbox. We do it with our mouth first. And then they got to sit there and try to hit the pads on the drum machine. Now they could just do it with their mouths and the computer will do it for you. That's a great improvement in technology and a great improvement for producing music. All right, well there you have it. RZA, thank you so much for coming out. We appreciate it man. Bonk bonk, thank you for having me. All right, thank you so much. Stay tuned, more. For CSCES in depth, we'll be right back.