After a decade-long wait, the unlikely pairing of Wu-Tang Clan‘s RZA and System of a Down bassist Shavo Odadjian are finally releasing an album’s worth of music. The duo had first announced their project Achozen (pronounced “a chosen”) in the mid-2000s, around when the bassist was hyping an ill-fated online music community called urSession. But other than the release a few tracks (“Deuces,” “Salute/Sacrifice”), the group seemed to fall by the wayside. Now eight tracks of the act’s spacey, lushly textured hip-hop are available with the purchase of a limited-edition portable speaker, the Boombotix Boombot Pro.
Rolling Stone met with the pair in a New York City recording studio – where the ever-animated RZA was present and Odadjian, who was feeling ill, spoke from his bed via Skype – to find out just what they had in common in the first place, so long ago. “It was just two people met and bonded,” Odadjian insists. “It wasn’t something contrived. He came from a band that I loved and knew every word of. We became a family and then him and I bonded like brothers.”
“My son was your ring bearer,” RZA replies to the computer.
Although there are many more songs that have yet to be released — and the duo tell stories about sessions with former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, Russell Crowe and Wu-Tang member GZA — the eight tracks on the speaker provide a good sampling of Achozen’s music (as well as a George Clinton cameo). From listening to Odadjian’s bassy musical tableaus and the verses that he and RZA trade off on tracks like “White Pony” and “Secure,” it’s clear the pair had an immediate rapport. But that just makes it all the more perplexing as to why they’ve sat on it for close to a decade.
Why have you two been holding on to this music for so long?
RZA: Scheduling is one of the biggest issues for us. In the beginning, we decided this was not to be a Wu-Tang side project or a System side project; this is what it is. System was signed to Sony as an artist, so I was like, “You go and do what you want to do and I’m gonna stand back.” He flew to New York and met labels but wasn’t satisfied with the ideology of what they were presenting.
Shavo Odadjian: I’m talking lyrics, they’re talking ringtones. I’m going to wait.
RZA: Right, and then schedule kicked in. I got the movie bug. And so I made The Man With the Iron Fists, and that’s 2011. Basically I’ve been running into that movie world so much that this got frozen in time. Then System reemerges, so he’s touring. But when I called Shavo in January, and we talked about how it was the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, which is the common denominator that glued us together in the first place, we decided to put the music out.