So I just finished reading The Tao of Wu by the RZA. It's a pretty incredible book, if you read it with a bit of detachment. The book appears to be a memoir of the RZA's life, primarily focused around his role as the leader of the Wu-Tang Clan. (If you don't listen to Wu-Tang, you've got a piece of your life missing. Go listen to 36 Chambers and then come back to this.) However, the book flows in-and-out between life-stories and RZA's views on life, the universe, wisdom, and everything. Really, he goes from describing the balance of the universe to dodging bullets in Manhattan projects to reminiscing about how old-school kung fu movies changed his life. There are a great deal of references and anecdotes relating directly to different religions, and the RZA is a staunch numerologist, which is why I opened this review saying you should read it with a bit of detachment. I almost don't think that warning is necessary, since one of the main themes he touches upon is the universality of religion and how unconventionally spiritual he is, but it may get confusing for someone reading it quickly. Honestly, this is a book that deserves patience and study to really understand what the RZA is saying, which is what I had to do after speeding through the first couple chapters. I had to stop and go back to fully understand how he connects things, but once you see it, it's obvious and yet very deep.
The stories about his life in relation to the Wu-Tang Clan are frank and revealing, and I found every tale extremely interesting. There are a lot of passages -- mini-chapters as they are in the book -- that are amazing nuggets of knowledge more people should stop and pay attention to and apply to their own lives. The RZA brings a much-needed critical eye to hip-hop and its mission, as opposed to what is proliferated in the mainstream. Ultimately, the book is about peace, and being at peace with one's self in one's own universe. Knowledge, understanding, happiness, even through strife and despair. I want to give it to my parents to read, but as RZA states in the book, his message is for the current generation more than any other.
This is required reading and will be on the final.