By Margeaux Watson
Updated December 18, 2008 at 12:00 PM EST

Last week, I interviewed the RZA about the legacy of his late friend and mentor, Isaac Hayes, who died of a stroke at age 65 in Memphis on Aug 10. In addition to paying homage to Hayes’ remarkable career and vast body of work, the Wu-Tang Clan rapper/producer also shared with me one of his most cherished personal memories of the soul music icon: “When my mother passed away in 2000, I asked Isaac if he could he come to the funeral and do anything for me, just something to help uplift my family’s spirits. So he came to the funeral and he played ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ on the piano. That really bonded our friendship. He’d seen me getting weak because, first of all, I was sad about the oppression of the world, and I was sad because I lost somebody dear to me. I was very popular at the time and kind of iconic in hip-hop, but I was kind of getting weak. And so he said to me, ‘Get up, man! Get the jelly out your spine, the cobwebs out your mind.’ He gave me those words that only a friend can say to you in a way that you get it and do something about it. And I did do something about it–the following year, I became a composer.”