EXCLUSIVE: We chat with RZA about his upcoming retreat with TAZO. Ten lucky people will spend two days with RZA as he teaches them how to unlock their creativity.
There aren't many figures in the hip hop world like that of RZA. The multi-hyphenated artist is a leading force in an array of arenas including community building, music, film, television, and literature. The Wu-Tang legend is a well-respected personality in hip hop, and not only has he made it his goal to create superior records, but to help others elevate themselves by expanding their minds. RZA's latest effort is a partnership with TAZO to create a once in a lifetime experience, an event that RZA said "we thought we could share with the world."
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For their second installment of Camp TAZO, the internationally recognized and unique tea-focused company will join forces with RZA to deliver an overnight workshop for creatives. The rapper chatted with us exclusively about Camp TAZO: Zen, an adventure that is rooted in helping creators "unlock a journey towards mental and creative enlightenment." RZA is taking the lessons he's learned about artistry throughout the course of both his life and career, and will teach others by having them engage in a number of activities to strengthen and expand their mental abilities.
"Creativity exists in each and every one of us," RZA told us exclusively, adding that we all operate on creative "low or high vibrations." In February 2020, a handful of lucky chosen few will have the opportunity to participate in Camp TAZO: Zen on Staten Island— or as RZA and the Wu call it, "Shaolin." Not many people would pick the New York City borough as a location for a retreat, even if it was their hometown, but RZA wanted Camp TAZO attendees to return with him to the scene that cultivated one of the greatest hip hop collectives of all time.
"The isolation of it," RZA said, is why Staten Island is the perfect breeding ground of creativity. He shared that although all of Wu's records are acclaimed projects that have sold millions and won awards, their debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), is the best album they've ever created. "Nothing compared to what was done naturally," he stated. "We woke up with the desire to create."
Just as the Wu detached themselves from outside influences and developed 36 Chambers, RZA knows that a meditative process will strengthen creators. "With meditation, you need to isolate yourself" to hone into that space to help creators control their artistry and open untapped potential.
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It's true that we do live in an era where people are able to share their artistic talents with the world more than any other generation, however, creators still often find themselves feeling stifled or burnt out. RZA gave some insight as to why that is. "Hustle culture," he said. "It's because our creativity is tied to an economic goal." Simply put, many times the reward for creating is financial, so innovators are just scratching the surface of their abilities.
This partnership is a natural one, as RZA explained when he talked about Steven Smith, the late founder of TAZO. RZA shared that Smith was on a "quest to find unique ingredients" and although health was important, it was a "creative quest to find different blends." He added, "For me, I strive to do that in my creativity." No matter what the artistic journey is, RZA wants to help people search deep within themselves. This practice takes discipline, especially as it pertains to enlightenment and finding balance in an environment of noise and chaos, according to RZA.
There's something that he wishes he would have done much earlier in his life, and it's a gem that he dropped off for creators: appreciate your surroundings. RZA said there was a point when he returned to Staten Island and looked around at people glued to their phones or busy with getting from one place to the next. "Very few people looked up at the beautiful skyline," he said. He took inventory of Shaolin and never realized the beauty it truly encompassed. "It looked so magical," he recalled, remembering he thought, "Wow, this view has been here since I was a kid!"
For you creatives who are interested in applying to spend a few days in the Wu's stomping grounds while getting one-on-one teachings from RZA for an immersive, two-day experience, visit www.CampTAZO.com to learn more about how to submit. RZA will be looking through the applications himself in hopes for finding 10 winners who will join him in Shaolin.
"It takes focus to actively achieve Zen in your life, but it’s a meaningful way to chase the creative passions that can be truly fulfilling, beyond the daily hustle and grind that can overcome us," said RZA. "Working with TAZO, I feel fortunate to return home and provide a means for other creators to come together and venture into the depths of their own minds to discover new creative truths."
Check out a video of RZA explaining a bit about Camp TAZO: Zen below.