RZA is most famous for his role as the mastermind behind the Wu Tang Clan. But the Staten Island native recently took his talents to a rather unexpected venue: ice cream trucks.
Yes, the hip hop icon has partnered with Good Humor to create a new ice cream jingle that will be heard across American neighborhoods this summer and for many summers to come. Although it may seem random on the surface for RZA to be partnering with ice cream companies, the reason behind the collaboration is just as significant, if not more so, than any project RZA has worked on in the past.
RZA’s new ice cream jingle will replace the standard ice cream jingle “Turkey In The Straw,” which contains a recognizable melody for almost all Americans. What is less known about the jingle is its origins; while the melody originated in England and Ireland, it was adapted in 19th century America as a minstrel show tune, was usually infused with racist lyrics during performances, and was often played by actors dawning black face.
Enter RZA, who eagerly describes his partnership with Good Humor in a promotional video. RZA states that he wanted to “make a new ice cream jingle for a new era,” and that he and Good Humor “want[ed] to make a melody that includes all communities that’s good for every driver, every kid.”
Good Humor responded similarly in their press release following the release of RZA’s new jingle: “While these associations of ‘Turkey In The Straw’ are not the only part of its legacy, it is undeniable that this melody conjures memories of its racist iterations. As a leader in the industry, and the creator of the original ice cream truck, we want to be part of the solution on this issue, particularly since we work closely with so many ice cream truck drivers across the country.”
RZA’s musical legacy is undeniable, both as a solo artist and as the patriarch of the Wu Tang Clan. However, seeing RZA’s legacy once again extend beyond the studio is becoming, as he really has nothing left to prove to anyone. His actions, like teaming up with Good Humor to create a new ice cream jingle, may not have the same caché or cultural appeal that one of his albums possesses, but they will help bring about positive change throughout a number of communities across the country, even if most children are unaware of the historical origins of the respective jingles.
The RZA has once said that “the beautiful thing about art, from my standpoint, is that it has no discrimination,” and he once again brings that idea to life through his Good Humor partnership.