RZA Details Why Ol’ Dirty Bastard Jumped Onstage at the 1998 Grammys

In a new interview with Rob Kenner for GQ, RZA shed light on the infamous moment.

“I actually said to him, I said, ‘Listen, they’re not gonna give us no award, G,'” RZA explained. “It’s like, I was very pessimistic in that, at my younger age. I was like, we lack validation. Like, they ain’t gonna give it to us. ‘Look at us. We the real shit. Look at where we at’ And so he misinterpreted that when I said, ‘Look at us.’ So he was like, we lost because we wasn’t dressed for the occasion.”

RZA continued, “So for the Grammys, he went like, ‘Fuck that. I’m gettin’ right.’ Cause he knew and felt that arguably—and they say self praise don’t mean nothin’, and I’m gonna praise myself. But if I was to put it on a scale of measurement of hip hop lyrics and rawness and what hip hop is? Yeah, we was the best. Okay? And so when you’re the best, you think the best wins. But that’s not the case in many fields. You know I mean? And he was just unaware of that, I think. He didn’t realize that the vote was already casted before you got there that night, brother. You know I mean?”

As for ODB’s iconic statement, RZA tried to shed light on what the late Staten Island rapper meant.

“He can’t speak for himself anymore, so I will interpret what he meant,” RZA said. “And I actually could potentially interpret and maybe even totally validate and agree. He meant that based on what we started—from where we started, what we bring to the world, what we put into it—that a child and a young mind would be better to follow our path than to follow that path. You know what I mean? He knew that was a path of struggle, of righteousness, of brotherhood.”