Robert Diggs may not ring a bell among hip hop and rap fans. As RZA however, he is renowned in the hip-hop community as being one of the most influential and prolific producers and beat creators.
The list of accolades you could string next to his name are endless, but among the most important would be "Wu-Tang Architect" and chief producer. Without RZA's beats, Wu-Tang Clan's "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" would have been a collective of great lyricists with no direction. It was his kung-fu movie samples and bugged out beats that laid down the concept and organized the group into a formidable arsenal of martial arts rap artists; and his slurred mathematical flow was one of their sharpest swords. That would have been enough for some, but RZA spent the next decade producing and rapping on a series of hip-hop albums - for his Wu-Tang Clan, for other artists, and on his solo albums.
For the better part of the nineties, the Wu-Tang Clan was one of the globally most visible messengers of hip-hop music. All around the world you could hear kids chant "M.E.T.H.O.D. - Man" and if you ran into someone rocking the standard hip-hop attire, it was very likely that his hoodie bore the famous Wu logo.
With the possible exception of Gang Starr, no other hip-hop act has received that much props worldwide. Individually, not every member of the Clan was able to build up the same high profile, but everyone who dealt with the Wu as a whole came to realize that the RZA was a crucial figure in the success and longevity of the group. Not only was he the musical mastermind behind the Wu's unique sound, he also took care of the business side, running Wu-Tang Records and Razor Sharp Records, setting up other business ventures, and last but not least he also fulfilled the role of the Abbot, ensuring the loyalty of its highly individualistic members to the Clan.
Diggs is a man with many aliases: The RZA, King Ruler-zigzagzig-Allah, The Abbott, Prince Rakeem, the Rzarector, Bobby Steels and Bobby Digital.
The RZA made his debut in 1991, with the self-produced "Ooh I Love You Rakeem" on Tommy Boy Records. Between 1993 and 1996, RZA produced a number of Wu-Tang Clan and Wu-affiliate albums, including one by the Gravediggaz, his own supergroup formed with Prince Paul, Fruitkwan and Poetic.
In addition to producing Wu-Tang, RZA has overseen projects by artists like Cypress Hill, Big Punisher, AZ, and the Notorious B.I.G.
RZA returned with a full-length solo album in 1998, "Bobby Digital in Stereo" on Gee Street Records. His follow up, "The RZA Hits", is a compilation of Wu-Tang gems released under RZA's name.
The RZA Hits was released in 1999 on Razor Sharp/Epic Records. In 2000 the RZA also made the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's film "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" and he collaborated with Quentin Tarantino for the soundtrack of "Kill Bill - Volume 1" (2003).