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The Tao of Wu Paperback – November 2, 2010

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The Tao of Wu + The Wu-Tang Manual + The Gospel of Hip Hop: The First Instrument
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Trade; Reprint edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594484856
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594484858
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"RZA is a towering artist and deep thinker who has much to teach us. I salute his courageous vision and compassionate witness-as manifest in this book and his life!"
-Cornel West

"I congratulate the world for this beautiful gift, wisdom from the life and travels of RZA, wisdom I truly believe draws from the deepest pools of human thought and spirit...When a wise monk passes away, the monastery builds a pagoda in his memory. Some pagodas get one floor, some get two or three. But if the man was known as the wisest and most enlightened of all monks, his pagoda gets seven. I believe the seven pillars of wisdom in this book are like the seven floors of an exalted monk's pagoda. They represent the wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment of a soul that has never stopped training, never stopped learning."
-Sifu Shi Yan Ming, thirty-fourth generation Shaolin Temple warrior monk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

The RZA is most famous as the founder and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, the platinum-selling hip-hop group that is widely considered one of the most important of all time, and has also spanned multi-platinum solo careers for many of its members, including RZA. Originally from Staten Island, he is currently based in Los Angeles, where he has continued his music career while successfully branching out into lecturing, television, and film.

Customer Reviews

This book was very interesting to read!
Ira James Kaan
Most importantly he shows how important knowledge wisdom and understanding truly is.
I highly recommend The Tao of Wu to Wu-Tang fans and the uninitiated alike.
Ivan Rott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ivan Rott on October 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Originally posted on my blog, Hip Hop Is Read (Oct. 13, 2009):

On "Uzi (Pinky Ring)" from the Iron Flag album, The RZA said something about a "Wu Library". Was this what he had in mind?

Behind the allure of their esoteric lyricism and imagery, there's vast depth behind the Wu-Tang Clan's interest in kung fu films, chess and comic books, as well as their ties to the Five-Percent Nation, Eastern philosophy and the boroughs of New York from which they hail. There's nothing kitschy about these now hipster-standard cultural elements that were once an avant-garde, new angle to the hip hop world and, especially, mainstream America. If textbook rules applied, the Wu-Tang Clan would have either dissolved into the depths of underground obscurity or retooled their image to satisfy commercial norms. Through The RZA's vision, however, the Clan held steadfast to their distinctiveness and stormed through the industry with a divide and conquer strategy.

RZA's new book, The Tao of Wu, discusses the various steps and influences that paved his road to success (in music and in life), the roadblocks that tested his discipline, and the jewels of knowledge he's gathered along the way. Loaded with the terminology and precepts of The Universal Language, The Tao of Wu is definitely intended for Wu-Tang fans and folks familiar with the concepts of the Five-Percenters; but anybody with an interest in music and the game of life, eccentric as RZA's story may seem, can glean much from The Tao of Wu.

As the book's jacket suggests, The Tao of Wu bares resemblance to Hermann Hesse's cult classic Siddhartha. RZA's tales, much like those of the young Siddhartha, are framed as a coming of age story with key parables and glimpses of enlightenment.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E lo on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What can you say about the zig zag ziggala. One of the all time great minds in hop-hop. One thing that really sets him apart he never hesitates to state his business and mind. Even when what he has done was not "in style" he makes people rethink what in style is. He is always on another plane. It will be a while before any MC in hip-hop could put down some text like this. MC's and producers on his level are so so rare. Think how empty hip-hop is today. You could break down 97% of rappers flows in a paragraph. You can fill volumes with the science of the Wu. This book sheds light on concepts, ideas, and the background of the Wu that any fan will appreciate. People that think rap has no redeeming value this book would be an eye opener. I thought I was a die hard Wu fan but I was learning new things on almost every page. A must have for anyone from true to the wu or new to the wu. This will change more then how you think about hip hop. R.I.P. ODB
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miguel VINE VOICE on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been an avid fan of the RZA and his compadres in the Wu Tang Clan for about fifteen years and he has never ceased to impress me both with his creativity and unique insight, an insight he has gained by living through hard years and a vision he has possessed since his early days. This book is a spoken version of his raps throughout his career. For those who are not huge rap fans and have a bit of a hard time with the intensity that comes across on Wu Tang albums this book serves as a comparable alternative. It reads in a way that makes you imagine you are sitting in a coffee shop with the RZA and asking him what makes up the essence of his being, as well as what inspired him and his peeps to create the awesome material that they have been putting on vinyl for almost two decades. He comes across as a very accessible, modest and friendly personalty and has the ability to relate on a very basic human level. He successfully fuses African American with East Asian, whether in the realm of life, death, mystic concepts, or pop culture references. He is also distinctly American in the sense that he embodies one of our greatest qualities, that of molding various cultures together to form a new cultural hybrid. I sincerely hope I get the opportunity to chat with him one day and strongly recommend this book to people of all walks of life.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Biscuit Face on January 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was really, really excited to get this book after seeing all the positive reviews. But unfortunately, there's very, very little of value contained inside.

The book spends a whole lot more time telling you how awesome RZA is (which we already know to be true, no?), and very little time attempting to actually impart any wisdom on the reader. The book gives vague references to lessons, or to Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom and their relation to Food, Shelter and Clothing but it never ties them together in any coherent way. The book is basically a vehicle for the RZA to tell how he came from difficult beginnings to be a megastar. Which is a good motivator, and a positive example to be sure... but the book takes itself so seriously and comes off with such an amount of pseudo-intellectual ego that it's kind of embarrassing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ashley M. Blanchard on May 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a fast and entertaining read from front to back. There were many stories told that made my eyes get large in certain areas. One story that jumped out was when Method Man was about to walk into this building until the RZA called his name to talk to him about forming the Wu Tang Clan. Just seconds after being called over, shots are fired within the building that Method Man was about to walk into. Unfortunately, a good hearted man that RZA and Meth knew was killed in that spot, during the shooting. RZA goes on to say that Method Man thanked RZA for saving his life. Stories like this are scattered throughout the book along with countless jewels of wisdom. The book is a nice pre-cursor to various forms of culture and religious ideals, however, to get a better understanding you may want to research them in more depth that the book can't provide. This book is certainly worth seeking out!
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