GZA: King of the Castle

Wu-Tang Clan’s Genius will thrill you on the mike, then kill you on the chessboard.

You Wu-Tangers spend a fair amount of time in front of chessboards. What’s your craziest match?
One time I played Masta Killa 78 matches in a row. It was an all-night event. All told, I think he had me by two games. I’m not gonna play just once, you kidding?

Where do you play?
I play at home, abroad, in chess shops. I skip meals to play. In the studio, I’ll sit and play for six hours instead of finishing a song.  At home, a lot of time I’m playing on Yahoo! I play like 30 games every time I go online.

So you have tons of internet pals?
Ha. It’s funny ’cause it’s up close and personal but not; everybody talks smack to each other online. I get under my opponent’s skin. Sometimes I’ll rhyme at them. You gotta be creative with it, though, because you can’t say crap or screw. At some point Yahoo! banned profanity. Dick is still OK, though.

Check out ouR interview with GZA!

Do you collect boards?
I play on tournament mats, but I like all kinds of boards. The bigger, the better. Well, I take that back. I played on a 10’x10′ chessboard at a hotel in Miami. The pieces were heavy, and I got tired just making a move. Not cool with that.

Does battling on the mike have anything in common with playing chess?
Of course. Like MCs, each chess player has his own style: how he likes to open, when he likes to attack. Just like we face off with each other lyrically, we challenge each other’s minds on the chessboard. Sharpen each other’s swords.

Ever smoked weed before playing?
I used to like to. Then again, I used to like to smoke half a blunt and read the same page of a book eight times in a row. It’s a different level of analysis, I guess you could say.

Suffer any tough losses?
Last October I played RZA for the Hip-Hop Chess Federation championship. I blundered. And once I played a Grandmaster, Maurice Ashley. Someday I  would like to play Kasparov.

Could you beat him?
What do you think?