Family

When Your Dad Is RZA

Featuring Prana Supreme Diggs, age 17, grade 12.

Prana Supreme Diggs and RZA.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo courtesy of Prana Supreme Diggs.

In this series, kids (and not-exactly-kids-anymore) review how well their parents balance life and work. To nominate a potential subject ideally between the ages of 5 and 17, email humaninterest@slate.com.

Prana Supreme Diggs is 17 years old and a senior in high school. She splits time between Nashville and Los Angeles. Her parents are Tekitha Wisdom and Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, aka RZA.

Slate: Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with your parents right now?

Prana Supreme Diggs: I live with my mom and we just moved to Nashville about a year and a half ago. We used to live in California. My dad lives there. My mom’s definitely my best friend. Everything about her just makes our personalities fit really well together. My dad and I have a great relationship, especially because he just gives the best advice ever, honestly. I feel like he might not say it, but he’s a super wise man.

He’s always telling me books to read. I have this huge list of books that he’s like, “You have to read this. This is smart because it will teach you about the art of business and there’s a chapter in here about your name.”

What books in particular?

The Art of War was the one about business. And the one with a chapter about my name was some metaphysical science book. My name means “life force.” It’s a Hindu name.

Which one of your parents chose your name?

My parents always have, not a disagreement, but: My mom says she chose it and my dad says he chose it.

How did your parents meet?

My mom got approached by someone through Wu-Tang’s management to try singing for them. My dad was interested in my mom as a singer. It was in the ’90s. They were friends for a really really long time before they even had me.

By the time I was born, they were already back to being friends. It was much better as co-parenting. It’s great because their relationship wasn’t affected by any kind of turmoil. And now both of my parents are married, so I have four parents. I love my stepmom. She’s awesome. I’ve known her since I was like 4. They are so perfect together.

Do you think your mom likes her job?

I do. I think she definitely went through a phase where she didn’t like her job because the industry is hard. I feel in the past three years, she found love for it again because we started working on music together. I think because having someone who’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kind of gives her that love for it again. How I’m just like, “We’ve got to do this. This is awesome. Don’t be scared!”

Do you remember, as a kid, what your first impressions of your dad’s job were?

I was probably 5. That was my earliest memory of realizing that my dad did music. I remember being with Dad and he would have a beat machine. Still to this day he brings one with him basically everywhere. He was just playing the same song over and over and over. And I didn’t know what was going on. But I’m 5, I’m having the time of my life. I get to dance to it.

Why does he still bring one everywhere?

Music just constantly comes to him. He’s just such a creative soul.

When you were growing up, what kind of stories did he tell you about Wu-Tang in the ’90s, or whenever?

Oh he would tell some pretty funny stories. But he’d have to keep them a little PG. Then I’d confer back with my mom and she’d be like, yeah, he’s left out some parts for that one.

That is great. Can you think of an example?

I know once they had this show where they got into some kind of fight with maybe one of the workers at this venue. It was a hot mess. They were clowning on the people, which is very much in their humor and personality.

What kind of not-PG details would he leave out?

It was definitely about drinking. Or if there was a lot of violence involved. I’d be like, “Uh, how did that even get so escalated??” He’d be like, “Uh, a little somethin’-somethin’.” But my dad doesn’t really censor his cussing too much. I don’t think that would be possible for him.

Has your dad changed as he’s gotten older?

Yes! I say that all the time. He’s always been wise, but now he’s getting, like, fatherly wisdom. Every year he gets softer. Toward us. Maybe not toward the rest of the world. And my new favorite thing that he’s been doing for the past couple years is that he’s been telling dad jokes.

You gotta tell me a RZA dad joke.

OK, so his favorite one that he says all the time is: “A hamburger and a hot dog walk into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Sorry, we don’t serve food.’ ”

Haaaa, that is the worst joke I’ve ever heard.

[Laughs] Yeah it’s pretty bad. He loves it. He said it at Christmas. He’ll just say it randomly. I think he especially likes it because he’s vegan, so he’s not gonna eat a hamburger or a hot dog anyway.

Did he try to raise you vegan?

Yes, I wanna say I was almost born vegan. When I was younger, my mom used to try to give me chicken, and I would just chew it and then spit it back in her hand. I can’t remember when I started eating meat. I want to say it was my aunt’s fault. Now I consider myself an off-and-on vegan. But I think if you do eat meat, it should be kosher. I have a moral standing on it.

Prana and her mom, Tekitha Wisdom.
Prana and her mom, Tekitha Wisdom.
Photo courtesy of Prana Supreme Diggs.

Did you watch a lot of kung fu movies with your dad, growing up?

Yesss. I love kung fu movies so much. Growing up, I watched a lot of anime and kung fu. As a kid, I remember watching Spirited Away and I also remember Dad having his kung fu movies just on, period. Dad gets a lot of inspiration from watching them, and now, I feel that too. When I watch them, it makes me want to write an action movie.

How often were other Wu-Tang members around the house when you were a kid?

Not that much at the house, but I do remember if Dad would take us to the studio with him, they’d definitely be there. Those are like my uncles. My dad grew up with them, and they all love and protect my mom. And Ghostface’s son Infinite is my cousin. He’s a singer too.

Your dad has worked with Quentin Tarantino and Kanye. Have you met either of those guys?

Yep, I met Tarantino when I was young. And I remember when I was like 7, we were over at someone’s house, and Kanye was just sitting there. And to me, it wasn’t like, oh my god, it’s Kanye West. ’Cause for me, I was just a kid. I was just living my life. It wasn’t until later that I was like, ohhh Kanye Kanye.

When your mom is working, is that something that she’s usually doing outside the house or is it something that she can do from home?

It’s a mix. She definitely does a lot of work from home but throughout my whole life, we’ve always traveled a lot for work. I want to say when I was in 10th grade, we went to Paris and Morocco so she could record this album. I think she left me once when she went on tour and my aunt accidentally locked me in the car and she’s never gone anywhere without me since.

How old were you when that happened?

I think I was 3. There are pictures and everything.

Do your parents ever have rules for you around screen time?

I’d say my dad is probably a little more strict. When I first started using Instagram, my mom was definitely like, “Two hours of screen time.” I’m a big reader and I started reading less when she first let me get on social media. That’s what made her be like, “OK, yeah, no. We need to limit your amount of time.” My dad is not huge on even having a social media account … he is always telling us, “You don’t have to share every single moment of your life with people. What are you even getting out of it, except for people knowing where you are 24/7?” It’s a good point.

Are your parents good at staying off their phones?

Sometimes my mom gets trapped watching those Instagram videos. You know how it’ll be suggested, like, “Oh, you’ll like this.” She’ll get stuck. Because the videos just automatically play for you.

My dad plays Candy Crush on his phone. That’s the main thing. I’ve never seen him just leisurely scrolling through Instagram or Twitter.

Do you know what level he’s gotten to on Candy Crush?

I want to say like 330.

Wow.

It’s probably even farther than that. He plays it a lot. He’s like, “I’m on this level now.” All right Dad.

Are there times when with either of them you feel like, “Ah, get off your phone. Stop taking this work call. We should be doing stuff”?

Once I was on vacation with my dad, my little brother, and my stepmom, and it was probably the afternoon and Dad had been on the phone for what felt like forever. I was like, “The whole point was for you to relax and not have to be on your phone.” I didn’t want to push him and be like, “Hey, get off your phone,” because that’s not very respectful, but I did feel like, “All right, let’s go swimming now. I think we’ve done enough work calls.” He doesn’t have too much control over that kind of stuff.

Do your parents have assistants?

My dad does. My mom does not. My dad has had the same one for a long time.

Does your interaction with him ever travel through that assistant or is it always directly with him? Like, are there ever times when the assistant is like, “Prana, he really wants to see you next Thursday. Are you available?”

[Laughs] No, that has never, ever happened. She’s picked me up before when I was going home, but aside from that, no.

Do you guys do family dinners?

We do. My dad cooks. He makes fried tofu. You can get fried tofu anywhere else and it is not good at all. No restaurant can make good fried tofu [like my] dad’s.

In 2018, how would you describe your dad’s job?

I would describe him as a director and a producer now. I think he really, really likes it. He’s always finding new avenues. He’s got an interest in fashion now with his whole 36 Chambers line. He’s doing it all.

Did you realize when you were growing up that your parents’ jobs were cooler than your friends’ parents’ jobs?

Actually, no! I felt like my friends’ parents had cool jobs. One of my friends, her mom was a psychologist. Another one, her mom worked at an art gallery.

That’s so cute that you thought those jobs were as cool as being RZA.

Yeah, to me, it was kinda just like, my dad raps and stuff. That’s cool too but look what your mom does!!

Also like, when I was in elementary school, no one’s really gonna talk about Wu-Tang unless it’s an adult. It wasn’t until I got to high school when I realized how many people in my age range still really knew Wu-Tang and the songs and the words, almost as if they were born in the ’90s themselves. Every day there would be at least five or six people wearing Wu-Tang shirts.

Did your friends in your class know who your dad was?

In middle school at the end of the year they knew because my dad came to graduation. It’s funny too because there was one kid, he was going around saying that my dad was his dad. It was hilarious. I was like, one of us is lying. And it’s not me. I ended up being like, “Nah man, you can’t do that.” He was like, “Ah, good lookin’ out.” So now we’re friends.

Some people in high school would come up to me and ask me if RZA was my dad because of my last name. Other people would make jokes and be like, “Oh, I heard you can freestyle. I heard you’re a great rapper.” I was like, “Who told you that?” I don’t think I can rap. Other people have said, “You kinda can,” but I don’t think I can.

And now you want to work in music when you grow up?

I do, but I also want to be a business owner. I want to be in fashion, I want to own my own store. I love music, but I feel like I can see my career being a business owner.

[When I was younger], my dad and my mom didn’t want me to be in the music industry. They wanted me to try to at least find some other interests before I was like, “I want to be an artist like you guys.” I was very interested in science and I wanted to be an archaeologist for a really long time. I knew I wasn’t ready mentally to be like, “Yeah, I want to be a child star.” I was like, “No,” because that’s how they get you. I was young and people are like, “Look at all these shiny things! Yes, sign your soul away.” I definitely had some growing to do. I agree with my parents 100 percent.

Read more from the Slate series My Parents’ Work-Life Balance.

When One Parent Is a Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist and the Other Is a Stay-at-Home Mom

When Your Mom Is “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua

When Your Dad Is New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait