Wu-Tang Clan star RZA is calling out the lack of progress in reducing poverty levels in New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
The hitmaker, who is also an established director, is celebrating the release of his third film, Cut Throat City, which tells the story of four teenagers who fall into criminality in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane.
The flick, which stars Terrence Howard, Ethan Hawke, and T.I. and centers on the city’s Lower Ninth Ward, highlights the extent of the impact of the hurricane and the lack of progress that’s been made in rescuing the area over the past 15 years.
“We still see the struggle of a community like the Lower Ninth Ward across America,” he tells BBC News. “The poverty level remains and we’re only seeing small inches of improvement. We need them to change by feet and meters.”
He adds of his personal connection to the city: “The people are lovely, the hospitality is great and I’ll never forget the first time Wu-Tang did a show there in the 1990s.
“(We) come from poverty. Our poverty in New York was living in the project buildings, but in New Orleans, the poverty was inside people’s home,” he explains. “When a home is impoverished, the paint is stripping, the mold is growing and the roof is destroyed. When we saw that level of poverty in New Orleans, it actually brought a tear to my eye.
“In the Lower Ninth Ward, they all live in houses but it’s still poverty,” says RZA, real name Robert Fitzgerald Diggs. “It’s still decimated and it really touched my heart.”
Cut Throat City was due to premiere at the annual South by Southwest conference (SXSW) and festival, in Texas earlier this year (20) but, amid the pandemic, the release was held back. The movie is available on digital download now.