It will be an all-out turf war on Thursday when Fox’s cop-vs-gang drama “Gang Related” debuts.
The show follows Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez), an officer on the Los Angeles Police Department’s Gang Task Force, and also a sworn member of the city’s most prominent gang. One of his colleagues on the LAPD is Cassius Green, played by rapper-producer-actor RZA — who works on the side where he never really thought he’d land: with the good guys
The Wu-Tang Clan leader spoke to TheWrap earlier this year at the Television Critic’s Association about his character, the show’s impressive scripted drug slang and how he’s bringing credibility to a network show about the streets.
TheWrap: Can you describe Cassius?
RZA: “A guy who grew up in New York City and a lot of crime in going on in the neighborhood … and some of his friends are part of it. But what happens to Cassius was a girl who he had a crush on gets killed in a random fucking robbery … he’s only 15-years-old when it happened. When he went to the funeral and people talked about it and all they said was, ‘shit happens’ — he couldn’t believe that. That the life of somebody amounted to that: ‘shit happens’ — and he wanted to make a difference. Therefore he got his education, took his street knowledge and he joined law enforcement to stop shit from happening.”
“He’s tired of these bodies.”
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You refer to cocaine as fishscale [in the show]: is that a Wu-Tang reference?
No, there is a real cocaine that’s called fishscale. I read this too when I got the script and I was like, ‘oh shit, these motherfuckers is going deep.’ Then Ghostface named his album ‘Fishscale’ because when we was growing up the Colombians had fishscale — it was best cocaine you could buy. If you got fishscale you became the fucking man. Your spot became the money-making spot. I remember the guys who had it … had fucking Mercedes-Benz and big gold chains. All the crackheads would go to them, all the coke-heads would go to them. Ghostface named his records that because his lyrics are the purest, the dopest lyrics. It’s so cool that that bit of reality is part of the show and I’m on the show — I’m the guy that introduces it.
So authenticity is a huge thing for the show — do you think that’s something you bring to it?
(Laughing) I don’t know because I’m a cop. What I do bring though, as that cop is: Cassius Green is a cop that knows drugs and knows the streets. And because he knows the streets he’s able to think how the street guys are thinking. That’s what I bring, that’s the realness that I bring: ‘This motherfucker knows what he’s talking about. Clearly.
See photos & video: ‘Gang Related’ First Look: Ramon Rodriguez Is Not Your Typical Double Agent
At the end of our interview, RZA shared some insight on picking projects that he learned from his co-star Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”): “Most jobs you look first for the writing to be good. If the writing is good, you hope the pay will be good. If the writing and the pay is good, you still got another hope, and that’s that the people that you work with is good. Because you could be getting paid a lot of money, but if you working with a lot of assholes, fuck that. And he said in this case for [O’Quinn], all three has been met.”