RZA Produces Chipotle’s ‘Savor.Wavs’, Whips Up His Cooking Playlist
Raekwon isn’t the only chef in the Wu-Tang Clan. Founding member of the legendary hip-hop group, RZA, turned the kitchen into the studio for Chipotle’s new SAVOR.WAVS campaign, where he created a musical expression for the franchise’s 51 ingredients. The digital platform allows Chipotle customers to create a song produced by Bobby Digital as they compose their order. So as you’re building your chicken burrito bowl or carnitas tacos, a range of instruments from the piano to the tuba soundtrack the mix of flavors in your meal.
For the launch party in New York City on Wednesday (July 19), the multi-platinum producer/rapper recruited several musicians (he tapped 70 musicians while recording the sounds for the project) to bring the savory symphony to life, orchestrating a jazzy jam session for his personal order, a veggie burrito, as well as other menu favorites. He also revealed that several artists like his own crew, the Wu-Tang Clan, alongside AWOLNATION, Griz, The Head and The Heart, and PANG! would be contributing their own remixes.
TIDAL sat with the Staten Island-bred vegetarian after his performance to discuss designing musical flavor profiles and his personal cooking playlist.
What was the most complex ingredient to design a sound for?
Each one had they own complexity but I would think since I stopped eating meat, I’m not a meat eater anymore, it was the pork and chicken that was difficult for me but I grew up eating that so instead of using, ’cause most of the ingredients we did, we would taste it, but we did said a chicken had the [imitates clucking noise] pah pah pah. [Laughs] and therefore we gave it to the sax and when we played it, it had a chicken vibe. But then for the pig, I figured the pig was a heavy animal so I went to the tuba. I used my composing brain along with my flavor tasting so I mixed those things together.
What was the easiest ingredient to soundtrack?
I think the beans was the easiest. We all agreed from so when I did it I wrote a list of my first 12 ingredients basically writing the music on my own then of course I tried it on my sons and they agreed the beans are the bass and the piano was the rice. Then I went to the musicians, I started recruiting everybody and I would ask them and that was obvious. I don’t know why but for some reason, beans and bass just had the …. ’cause beans could make something filling and the bass fills the track. That worked, everybody agreed.
Do you cook a lot yourself?
Yeah, I actually I think I’m a cook. [Laughs]
What are some songs that are on your cooking playlist?
I’m gonna embarrass myself a little bit now. I honestly cook to Frank Sinatra. I have all of his songs in my phone. For about the last three years, I’ve been kind of [listening to] Frank Sinatra — “All of Me,” “Come Fly With Me,” “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Bewitched,” “Chicago.” With “Strangers in the Night,” I had a bad experience with that song that I won’t share today. I was about 17 — it was a mafia experience on Staten Island.
But Frank Sinatra’s music is like my top playlist, especially when I’m cooking. On my phone, I use the compilations. I got Nothing But The Best and The Ultimate Frank Sinatra Collection.
What is it about that Frank Sinatra vibe that gets you going in the kitchen?
I think Frank’s music and the vibe he left on the world is uplifting. It’s a joyful vibe. It’s a etiquette vibe. I was on a boat this weekend with a few Hollywood guys and a couple actors and our goal was to listen to the new JAY-Z album [4:44], which we did and we had a good time.
What was your initial reaction to 4:44?
All good. I had a mature audience with me so we all got it. After the JAY-Z album, we still had two more hours to go and I was like, “Okay, guys, anybody got a problem with Frank?” [Laughs] And nobody had a problem with Frank from the captain to the black actor to the white actor to myself to the female to myself.
What was it about partnering with Chipotle that really stuck out to you?
Really, it was a challenge. When we first talked about it, it was going through a scientific process at first and I’m glad we didn’t. We did pseudo-science. It was the process of saying, “Okay, RZA, can you take our ingredients and give a musical expression to them and not make a song but take all these ingredients and make it to whereas it has an interchangeable feeling?” And I was like, wow. I thought about it it took me about two weeks to decide to do it.
Then you brought in 70 musicians.
The 70 musicians took about 30 days before I got to that so it took two weeks to decide I wanna do it then all the politics that go with that. Then I just started writing in my house digitally and I was like it wouldn’t make sense to have artificial instruments for natural ingredients so if you really want me to do this, I’m gonna want to use an orchestra. I’m happy [Chipotle] did it that way.
I want to say the coolest thing about the whole project was we got a chance to record at Capitol Studios in the Frank Sinatra room. That was the coolest part.
What meal would you compose to Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.”?
You got the piano, so rice. You got the bass so you got the beans. You got the strings, so you got the avocado guac. It could be a vegetarian meal but you got the drums so you might want to put a little beef in it. [Laughs] ‘Cause Wu-Tang is from the streets.
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