'Gang Related's RZA hails from 'the largest family in New York City'

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Some names just beg questioning, and RZA's is one of them.

It is pronounced "raz-ah" as in razor with a New York accent, with final "Rs" optional.

"It started in the street because everyone said I was razor sharp," he tells Zap2it, over lunch in a Pasadena hotel courtyard.

His given name is Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, and he's best known as one of the founders of Wu-Tang Clan. He was in this with his late cousin, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and RZA frequents his talk about family.

RZA hails from what one newspaper said was the largest family in New York City.

"From my grandmother alone, there are over 100 people," he says. "Her brother was Ol' Dirty's father and there was another 100."

He is one of 11 children.

"At Thanksgiving, I sent out a letter to my brothers and sisters thanking them and then the Wu-Tang Clan to give me the patience and tolerance to tolerate my life and business."

Though he spends much of his time in California, RZA has never forgotten his Brooklyn roots. In fact one of his oldest pals from Brooklyn, who became a police officer, helped him frame his character on "Gang Related."


RZA also never turns from his musical roots and continues to compose music.

"I composed over 12 movies," he says. "I love writing music. I set aside time every day. I have my guitars in my trailer."

As he eats fruit and chats about music and acting, his talk inevitably returns to family.

"We have a society where children are pushed out at 19, 21," RZA says. "A person is really developed at 30 and if you are pushed out early, you become a fish in a big sea. What's the first heaven? Your body, yourself, be happy and be joyful in you."

Birthdate: July 5, 1969

Hometown: Brownsville, Brooklyn.

Music: As a sought-after producer has worked with hip-hop artists Kanye West, The Notorious B.I.G., Q-Tip, Cypress Hill and IAM.

Movies soundtracks: "The Best Man Holiday," "Pacific Rim," "Django Unchained"

Acting credits: "Californication," "The Man With the Iron Fists," "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas"

The upside of being cast on "Gang Related": "Being on a series is healthy for me," RZA says. "It stops me from partying too much. It's been real good for me. It keeps me out of trouble."

Photo/Video credit: FOX