When he's not busy inspiring Marty Markowitz to rap or teaching Wu-Tang interns about how to diversify their portfolios, GZA the Genius is hard at work on his next album, a concept album about science, space and the cosmos. "There's no parental advisory, no profanity, no nudity," Brooklyn-born Gary Grice told the WSJ. "The only thing that's going to be stripped bare is the planets." And he turned to none other than everyone's favorite astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson for inspiration.
The Wall Street Journal was there to document some of the meetings between GZA and Tyson last month—that included a lyric born from a model of Saturn GZA spotted in Tyson's office.
While he's nervous many will think a project about physics sounds boring, he's hoping to tap into rap listener's curiosity: "I don't think people have ever really been in touch with science," he said. "They're drawn to it, but they don't know why they're drawn to it. For example, you may be blown away by the structure of something, like a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, with its hexagonal shapes. Or how you can take a strand of hair and can get someone's whole drug history. They're different forms of science, but it's still science."
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like we'll get to hear Tyson rap anytime soon: Tyson was just one of many scientists and physicists who GZA met with in preparing for the album. A commenter who claimed to be Tyson clarified his involvement with the project on an Uproxx post:
FYI: News reports that I am teaming up with Wu-Tang’s GZA to make a Hip Hop album are not entirely accurate. Actually, they’re just false. I had the fellow as a guest on a soon-to-be-aired episode of StarTalk Radio. That’s when I learned he was greatly inspired by the universe and by my writings on the subject - both of which informed themes and lyrics that will appear on his next album. Somehow, in the internet blogosphere, that morphed to: “Tyson & GZA are collaborating on a hip-hop album”. -NDTyson
GZA's space album, Dark Matter, is scheduled to be released this fall; as a followup, he's planning on doing another concept album, this time focusing on the life aquatic. He's already started meeting with marine biologists and researchers, including Philippe Cousteau. While you wait for those works to emerge, watch an animated video in which GZA recalls early visits to the Bronx, block parties, and a young RZA getting in trouble.