So when we first moved to BC, My grandfather bought me a poster of Wu-Tang. I briefly knew who they were, but he was obsessed with RZA’s journey and the fact that a Black man had the courage and strength to call himself a God. My grandfather desperately wanted that, so he followed RZA most people would…follow a God.

A girl ripped that poster off my wall because I wouldn’t “loan” my Backstreet boy posters to her, I had a collection of over a thousand, that I’d carefully ripped off my wall in Calgary to bring with me. It was a mighty collection for a 12-year-old little girl.

So I shoved her. It would be many years before I read Rza’s book about The Tao of Wu, and the idea that we shouldn’t return violence with violence…too bad, ODB would have understood, and appreciated the push.

I read this book when I left gang life, and then I bought three copies and gave one to a boy named Angel to hand out, one to him, and a few more to keep in case they got wrecked. Well, they got wrecked because the boys didn’t get the message back then, but today I started listening to this video and it made me think back to the early days of this website, and it reminded me how much Rza and The Wu have been such a massive part of my journey as a Black woman. And any Black woman who loves music, and writing, or art in general, will probably say the same.

RZA talked a lot about vengeance in this book, and the need for it, but also for the need for peace. He talked about how one time while angry at a brother, he ate meat, just to piss the brother off, I get that, petty justice is still justice, right? The problem with justice is that it often means cutting off a limb to spite the rest of your body and that’s never, ever healthy.

RZA talked about locking himself away and learning his craft, focusing all his energies on creating great beats, I don’t have the ability to do that, so I had to take what I love to do and transform it to follow his lessons and here’s what I figured out:

Men are fucking idiots.

Men have been trying to fight for control for centuries, as if having control alone – power over other people – will make you happy, but women have always known that’s not the truth.

Men think everything is about them. Disney just released a new film called Roslyn, and all I can think is “you’re chasing a dude who’s literally going to die for another girl,” DING! That sounds familiar, that was me.

I was chasing men who were going to die for other women, and literally in a few cases, nearly died to protect these idiot men and their idiot women and not because it was about them, but because “I” as RZA talks about in his book, made MY life, about other folks, and not enough about me.

Women Are Fucking Idiots Too

Women get into these habits of believing the conditioning because it’s easier to believe it than it is to fight against it, sometimes we just get so worn down, so tired, we don’t remember, that we actually have the skills to fight past this bullshit, in order to carve out a life for ourselves filled with happiness and joy.

RZA writes that everything happens in time, that when we’re ready we emerge from our caves ready to take on the world, but I’m not there yet and I know that I’m not there yet, no matter how much people want to drag me. And we as women need to be okay with not being ready.

I’m almost 40 and I live at home, I am also catching up on a lot of my life because I spent most of my earlier years being abused and kicked around and I finally, after almost 36 years, JUST got up off the fucking floor.

MAID Is One of the best films Ever Made

One Scene. Just one, explains exactly what hopelessness feels like, and very few films can do that so fucking well, without adding in murder and violence. It’s the scene where Alex is in a hole and can’t even fathom trying. to climb out, so she doesn’t bother, it’s too hard, so why try? Because you have something to fight for.

Music and Film Can Change Your Life if You Decide You’re Done Being A Thug

All of Wu Tang’s music is about a life I don’t want, it’s a repeated over and over again reminder of the world I left behind, and how much I want many, many men and women to come with me. Everything about Marshal Mather’s music is about being chosen, to be better than his past, everything about Dre’s music is a reminder that he’s a Doctor, constantly studying the art of music, healing folk with music, meanwhile he’s teaching his daughter one of the harshes lessons ever.

RZA’s point was that the reason that he locked himself away to make music, was because he didn’t want to be in gang life, he didn’t want to take a life, he didn’t want to watch his friends and family members die, he didn’t want to live in a world where he heard sirens every single night, he wanted to grow up move on and get out. And he helped to create 8 of the best albums the world has ever seen, nine more of which most people don’t even know he wrote the beats.

There are thousands of videos on Youtube that contain WuTang beats on them, and people don’t even know, a lot of rap songs with Italian-sounding backgrounds, or soft guitar, mixed with heavy metal, were inspired by RZA and by Ice-T or Ice Cube, and people don’t even know, because you’re hearing the lyrics and you’re thinking “yeah man selling dope, killing a bitch, sounds good.” NO MOTHERFUCKER.

These songs are a WARNING they aren’t something to be emulated, they aren’t something to aspire to, and they are a warning of what’s to come for you if you don’t pay the fuck attention. Everyone wants to be like Pac or Biggie or DMX, or Easy-E, but they keep forgetting these men are dead. Aliyah is dead. These people our “heroes” the songstresses that make the soundtracks to our lives are dead. Is that what you want? Because that’s a different conversation.

But y’all are still out there, spitting on MY name because I got out. I left. I didn’t just ask permission and be all sweet about it, I walked the fuck out and left notes and took receipts with me, I’m not ashamed of the fact that I had to live a life of trauma to get where I am now, I am ashamed that it took me so long to see what was happening around me.

My only excuse is that I was broken. I am not broken anymore, and it’s because I’ve worked really, really hard to get where I am. If you want to change your life, you can, but you have to stop hearing confirmation of your worst ego-fed selves and start hearing the warnings all around you.

When you look around and see the same fucking people who had 10 or 20 years clean and sober, out on the street again you have to ask yourself if you’re going to drown with them or be the rope that pulls them out. I’d rather be surrounded by people I used to, clean and sober forever than sit back and wait until those same people think they were forgotten enough to go back to a life they don’t want.

I’m extending an invitation. To anyone who was from my past that wants to remain happy and hopeful with me, come with me, to anyone who wants to keep selling dope and raping girls, you’re on your own. Period. I can’t forgive someone who chooses to make the same mistake over and over again.

I smoke weed every single day, I write every day or every other day, I’ve written 2 books that will be appearing in a 3rd, I have a thriving website that I’m building one day at a time, and I rarely drink, I’m broke as fuck and I’ve never been happier.

I also don’t have to hide from gangsters anymore, even though y’all scare the shit out of me, I’m not afraid of YOU, I’m afraid of what you’ll do to someone like me, and I’d rather not be. So next time you see me. say hello, I swear I will too.

All of this is because even though I’ve honestly felt like there was nothing that RZA Could do to help me, he changed my life, by showing me how he changed his.

That’s why telling our stories are so important. That’s why it matters.

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall

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