you doing man?
I'm ok, just
still on that same mission everyone says is impossible?
goals with your music changed from "Words from a Genius" to
No. The goal
for me has always been to just make good music, and to make music that's
appreciated by the people by doing what I like and what I feel, and keep
doing it. As far as lyrically, production-wise, and my mind-state, it
has grown. I must say that. I've grown a lot.
you want to create when you sat down with Muggs?
music. I didn't have a theme. I didn't have an overall idea. We just came
together and worked. That's how it usually happens anyway.
you and Muggs get down to make the songs?
He was there
when I recorded. Basically, he gave me some tracks about six months before
we started recording. He gave me about 15 beats, and I may have used about
nine of those beats. The other three, I picked when I got out there to
record. That's how it went down.
can it take you to write a song?
It all depends.
Sometimes it can take a week, sometimes it can take a month. If something
takes a month, it only takes a month because I'm not working on it everyday.
If I focus on a song all day, I can write it in a day. A lot of these
songs took a long time to write because I might write a few lines and
not have a chance to get back to it until a week or two later. I might
get an idea between those weeks and write it down. It's a gradual process.
Gambit" is another one of your dope conceptual songs, where do you
get your inspiration to write songs like that?
can come from anywhere, anything, at any given time. It's just a thought.
It can be something I hear, something I see, something I think about.
Usually with songs like that, they're not pre-planned. When I did "Labels,"
I may have had a line of two before I had the idea. For instance, I might
have heard someone say "Tommy ain't my motherfucking boy" or
something like that, and then it came to me. After doing "Labels,"
I didn't say to myself, "I have to do another song like that."
If I thought like that, I would probably do albums like that and it would
be so corny. MC's do it all the time. They might say "oh, let me
do a song about TV's" and name all sorts of TV sets, or "let
me do a song about radios" and name Panasonic and JVC, all these
types of brands. It doesn't work like that. After I did "Labels,"
what was next? (pause) The next song was "Publicity," with all
the magazines, where I said, "who be first to catch this beat down,
my rap pages be the source, I ego-trip on many victories and no loss,
my rap sheets show you details of wars in streets, where the most live
catch vibes, and blaze heat." Even in those few lines, there's about
10 magazines named already. But the way the song is delivered, you won't
be able to tell because I don't use the magazines as a rhyme word.
way to lay it down. I love the way I rhyme and I always have to give examples.
I don't want it to seem like I big-up myself because I don't want to talk
about myself all the time, but I just give examples so I can show the
difference between the styles and levels of MC's. A lot of songs like
this, like if I use magazines and publicity, the magazines aren't just
nouns. I use them as verbs. I didn't say "remember that time when
we took a photo in the Vibe?" I used the word "vibe" as
an action word, "vibe" is an action word, he caught "vibes."
you used the names on "Fame"
same way I did it on "Fame." I made sure I took names that were
verbs, the majority of them, and nouns, but I really tried to focus on
verbs. Look at "Larry's bird flew out of Nicholas' cage." I
didn't separate the names. I didn't say "Nicholas just ran from his
cage." I kept it together. "Joe texts messages from Satchel's
page, Betty writes letters from Sean's pen." "She used Bernie's
mack to search Veronica's web." That's a metaphor in itself. I can
school a lot of MC's. There's maybe just a handful that would do it how
I did it.
all sorts of things, like songs about girls, and its just name-calling.
It's not really a song that draws a picture. "I was cooling with
Tasha, she was cooling with Jennifer, she was hanging with Sally!"
A lot of MC's name-call a lot, and I'm not pin-pointing MC's. We might
have a few MC's in the Clan that name-call. A lot of raps is like that.
I'm just saying it's a part of writing, but sometimes people do it a lot
to have a short-cut. "He ran with Bob and Bill from uptown, who rolled
in the car with Steve."
songs like "Labels," where the idea just happened to come accidentally.
Maybe not accidentally. Let me find the word. You know how inventors sometimes
invent things by accident? Like the invention of the scratch when Grandwizard
Theodore's mom called him and he stopped the record, and he heard that
crazy weird sound, and then the scratch was invented, almost by accident.
A lot of times I get a thought, or I say something
with "Publicity," I was in the studio one day and there were
some MC's in there writing. On one pad, I saw one line that said "my
rap pages are a source." It was Timbo King's from Royal Fam. He had
a line that said "my rap pages are a source." He didn't have
any idea about doing a song about magazines. When I saw those two words,
I asked him "let me flip that, let me get that." He says, "ok,
sure." He also said that when he wrote that, others were saying "that's
something that GZA would do." He had told me that. I took that and
went home. I thought it would be cool. I got all these names of magazines
and I put them together. Not everything could be "when we took photos
in the Source, they wrote the article in Rap Sheets." All the magazine
names are thrown in their so slick that you don't even know. "My
rap sheets show you details in the streets." It took awhile to write.
came "Fame." It was one of those days when I said something
that was slick, and it was like "whoa, now I can do this with names."
I've done it on every album, but it's not like it's pre-planned like "the
next album I have to rhyme about
" It's just an idea that comes
to me. With "Animal Planet," I may have been watching Animal
Planet. "Polar bears feast on the blubber of seals." That's
a vivid picture. You can see the white snow and a lot of blood. I thought
to put the animals in a setting as if they were people in the ghetto.
When I said "the porcupine had a rep for sticking everything that
moves, in areas that the rhinos and hippos approved." I saw the rhino's
and hippo's as being big, because they are. I also see them as being muscle-men,
like the mob or something. When I took an animal and wrote it down, I
had to put them in an area where they belonged. Just like I said "the
chimps they grow hemp, and hustle by slanging trees." That's a metaphor
in itself. They swing in trees, and slang is a term in the hood for selling,
and trees is weed. That's a whole breakdown for the rhyme. And the "elephants
for security that move tons of leaves." They eat up at least 500
pounds of trees and branches a day. They're security and they help move
the product. It's not too deep to understand. It's simple. I had to put
them in their settings. The giraffe was the lookout, what other way to
describe a giraffe? The porcupine stuck everything that moved. That's
a metaphor, he robbed. The blue birds were the police, I said "the
blue birds arrest parrots that love to talk." The parrots are the
snitches. They love to talk. They all co-exist in this world and work
together. Some are partnered up with others.
needed in Hip Hop. Artists need to create worlds that the listener can
really walk into and experience, like a three-dimensional setting. People
buy houses nowadays and can create their house on their computer. It's
like walking through it. That's how the songs come about. A lot of time
is put into the song so I can create these worlds and environments so
people with a tuned ear can appreciate it on that level. It's not just
something you open your ear to, you have to tune in. Each time you listen
to it, you get something. Every line is detailed like that. Even when
I speak about "his roar is loud enough to take stripes from a zebra."
Stripes are like your points, your medals. He takes stripes from a zebra,
and "the zebra camouflaged his bets in the spot of a cheetah."
When the zebras run across the cheetahs, it confuses the lion, it's hard
for the lion to compare and contrast. The cheetah, I'm talking about one
who cheats by gambling. "You shouldn't gamble with a cheetah, and
not expect to get beat, silly goose, don't you know he moves fast on his
feet." And look at "your neck deep in debt with a bunch of loan
sharks," because we're talking about gambling. "So you move
on a colony of ants with aardvarks." That's basically how it is.
I can break down just about all of my rhymes that way, the majority of
them. That's how they came about. "Fame," came about that way.
"Queen's Gambit" came about too. I was speaking to someone on
2-way, and we were talking about football. We were talking about some
game, and I don't really follow sports like that. I mentioned something,
maybe it was about the Raiders, and they said they didn't like the Raiders,
and I replied "you like the Giants that fly on jets." That was
real slick and I realized I could incorporate all those teams in a slick
way. I also incorporated terminology from football, touchdowns, wide receivers,
kickoffs, and it just added to the rhyme. I said "her man always
roared like lions, a domestic violent cat, who tackled the girl and kept
her crying." You get that picture. I don't have to take six more
bars to describe his violence. I make it brief and strong. I don't have
to say "he punched her in the face, then he slammed her on the floor,
then he kicks her in the side, then he runs through the door." That's
corny. I give you one sentence saying he tackled the girl and kept her
crying. I said "he couldn't care she was losing her hair from depression,
she was in the air, and there was room for interception."
different ways to write a song, just most MC's don't know. Some don't
really take the time because for them, it's not about time or creating
something timeless and precious. It's about money. And a lot of them don't
have the talent, or bring out the talent to do it. A lot of MC's can't
write that way. I can take an idea, say if I had an idea, say I have the
"Queen's Gambit" idea, and I have 40 other MC's and ask them
to incorporate those things, there might not even be one to match "Queen's
Gambit." There might be one, but I really doubt it. Most of the words
wouldn't be used as verbs, they would be used as nouns. The words that
could be used as verbs wouldn't be used as verbs. Just as on "Fame,"
I couldn't use someone with the last name Evans. What is an Evans? That's
the difference, where you probably would have had a lot of names like
Evans in other versions, like "we went to heaven and were chilling
with Faith Evans." Linda tripped walking in Lauryn's heels,"
"water dripped out of Farrah's faucet into a glass, if she was superfly,
Curtis may feel her ass." "Chris took her to a show
her to a ho!
her to a ho! "Robert Diggs the beat," that's RZA. This is one
of my favorite lines, "Tom saw her at the Lucille ball at the foyer
where he confronted Richard prior to hiring his lawyer." A lot of
artists can't see that, not to boast and brag. MC'ing has always had that
egotistical thing. Being an MC, there's room to brag on a record, but
it's how you do it and how you display your talent. I can't even remember
the names of some of my old songs. On one, I said "I run on the track
like Jesse Owens, broke the record flowing." I heard Jay-Z say it
"I'm on the track like Jesse Owens." If I had heard him say
that before I did mine, I probably wouldn't have done it, even though
we used it differently. My whole rhyme was about track, "it's on
once I grab the baton from my DJ." I put my DJ on the field with
me. "An athlete with his iron cleat in the ground, a wireless nigga
" I used "wireless" and "sprint."
There's ways to incorporate anything. Like how did I incorporate phone
companies into track? There's room for that.
I could put
all of this into a book. I will. I'm just giving you a slight breakdown
because a lot of MC's think they can really, really rhyme and they have
metaphors and they come with a whole bunch of similes. "I'm tall,
I'll drop you like the World Trade." They wait for an event to happen
and then throw it all in they rhymes in the corniest way. "I stand
tall like the World Trade did." Or they're using a natural disaster,
and it's not done in a unique way. How many people have said "Even
Stevie Wonder could see it?" I'm not knocking that in a sense, because
people will think I'm just knocking people. I can't pinpoint whoever used
that line in a song, but it's been used. I don't know if it was Game,
but he said something about looking through glasses, and it was exceptional,
he said it real cool and slick. His was in a different way. But lines
like "even Stevie Wonder could see it," it's just like "oh
man, you could use it all day." If you want to take it back, it was
way better back then. Kane said "you're a butter knife, I'm a machete."
It was right for that era and time. Every line related to the other lines.
Kane was a lyricist and he took that to another level. It was incredible
to hear that whole rhyme for that time and era. It's how you use your
so-called metaphors and similes. "You're a Volkswagen, I'm a Bentley,
you're a raccoon, I'm a chinchilla!" You know how many times I've
heard "chinchilla" in a rap? You know how many times I've heard
how expensive somebody's watch is?
how many colors it has.
many cars you're driving, what's in your driveway
I'm not knocking
those who got all of that, it's not important. To them, it may be important
and they want to rhyme about it. But it's not visually creating a great
story. How can you rhyme about being in a Bentley without saying you're
in a Bentley, where you describe it and it's so fly, but you may not even
be in a Bentley. You may be in a fly apartment or someone's office. But
they don't know. It's when you roll the window down and pay the toll.
It's when you create worlds where you let the imagination flow. "Where's
he at, what's the setting? I know wherever he is, it's very fly."
That's what writing is about for me, and that's what it's always been
about. It's about describing things. Nas had a line where he said "sipping
on crushed grapes." See how simple that is? But you know he's sipping
on wine. He doesn't have to talk about the bottle, the way it looks, how
much it cost
cares how much something costs? So what? I don't care, but I guess the
majority of the Hip Hop world cares because when you throw something in
there, the response is crazy. Artists are so caught up in material things
that they don't know how to talk about other things. They don't know how
to relate the animal world to humans. They don't know how to relate the
universe to MC'ing, because it sounds boring.
to be dumb right now
is. Especially in the Hip Hop world. Let's flash back 20 years to MC'ing.
My name was The Genius. I didn't give myself that title. I didn't want
that title. It was too big of a name. It was too much to expect. It was
too much of a nerdy title. I never wanted to be called that. It was a
name giving to me by the RZA and Dirty. They said "nah, you're the
Genius man!" As time went by, the name stuck with me. I was the Genius,
Dirty was the Rap Professor, and RZA was the Scientist. One time, we did
a show, and I called myself the "Rap Professor," and Dirty was
like "Yo! You ain't the Professor, I'm the Professor." "The
Professor" rhymed with more words, "lesser," "dresser,"
"stressor." There was just more stuff to rhyme with that name.
I was liking that title better. My point is, listen to the names then:
Professor, Scientist, Genius
UTFO, Educated Rapper, Kane, King Aziatic,
Nobody's Equal, KRS-One, Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone,
Wise from Stetsasonic. Wise Intelligent from Poor Righteous Teachers.
King Sun. I could go on and on, there's a lot that didn't even have records
out. I took the "the" off of Genius. Time changes, so you don't
want to carry certain nerdy names, but I'm still known as the Genius.
It was cool
to be smart and intelligent back then in MC'ing. It was about wittiness,
sharpness, intellect, and character. Nowadays, it's all about character.
There's no intellect there anymore. Everybody's a character. It was about
being smart, intelligent, wise, swift. That's how we were rhyming then.
Look at the names of some of the producers, Large Professor. Kool G Rap,
when I met him when we were at Cold Chillin,' he told me "my name
is Genius too, that's what the G in Kool G Rap is for," and that's
definitely what he was as an MC. Look at EPMD, the Microphone Doctor.
Everything was built around intelligence, swiftness, wittiness, and cleverness.
It was about being clever, witty, sharp, unpredictable, and intelligent.
like you said about the school you work at, it's not. Now, it's almost
like it's cool to be dumb. The slang has even changed. "You're stupid,"
that means you're "fly" or "crazy." I can get with
the slang, but I know how and when to use it. I don't go to radio stations
and ask "can I curse?" because I know how to conduct my language.
I can't ever remember slipping on radio and cursing. It's like slipping
in front of your grandma. I'm not saying that you give the radio station
the respect you give your grandma, but there are certain rules and regulations
you have when you're up there. It's like being in school. I could be a
teacher. I'm not supposed to be cursing in front of the kids. "Take
out your motherfucking notebooks and write this shit down!" Usually,
profanity is not a part of my everyday vocabulary. When I write, it's
not consciously done. On the Muggs' album, I might have said three curses,
at most, in 12 songs, with the exception of "bitch." It all
depends on how you use it and what you do with it.
you blame for how things are now, the labels, artists, or the fans for
of the above. It's the labels. It's the fans. It's the artists themselves.
Most artists are dumb in a sense of they don't really know what to rhyme
about or how to kick it. It's different today. Do what you do, but do
it like no one has done it. That's really the problem. It's not a problem
to talk about your jewelry, if that's what you do. But do it in a way
that hasn't been done, that's slick. Somebody like Jay-Z has really taken
that flossing shit to another level. No one has really taken it to that
level, how he says certain things and how he talks about jewelry and cars.
He's slick with it. He's witty and articulate. He's a good MC. If you're
not taking something to a certain level, then why do it, because we don't
need to hear the same thing. "I got cars in my yard, trucks on my
lawn, jewelry in my box, I'm living on, and I got girls that come by the
" It sounds like some off-the-head shit. "Yo I'm
a playa kid, yo I'm a playa dude, yo I'm the mack man, yo I'm a baller."
seen the Laffy Taffy video?
No. You know
what, I heard about that.
blasting the shit out of that.
BET man, "Bite EveryThing." That's BET, "Bite EveryThing."
That's how shit is. My children listen to all kinds of music. I have a
son and a daughter, and my daughter probably knows all of the stuff on
BET. But her frame of mind is not like that. She may know a song word-for-word,
and we'll be conversing about it, and she'll say "that's some 'ABC
rap' right there." It's how the children think when you're not around.
Some people don't want their children to watch TV to be consumed by things
like that. You have to know how to balance things, like "I like that
song, but they look stupid," or "this is not what it's about."
You want kids to know the difference when they hear something that's thought-provoked.
You have to know the value of something. Even if it is a stupid video,
you might like the direction of the video or how the lighting looks. You
have to know what to take from certain things, aside from its weaknesses.
Lyrically, I could do 50 songs a day rhyming how half these kids are rhyming.
"I'm chilling in the house, doing an interview, watching TV while
I'm talking to you, you asked me a few questions that I couldn't answer,
you said 'am I in the club?' but I'm not a dancer!"
on the fan because I'm feeling so hot, I get me some weed that I bought
from the spot, the police came to the spot and locked us up!" (laughs)
What's clever in that?
use that for my album?
you ten songs! That's what it's about. Cleverness. Look at songs today,
whether it's BET or on the radio, and find one song that doesn't have
materialistic lyrics in it. It's hard. But you can take songs from back
in the days, like G Rap, he told a lot of stories, so a lot of his material
things was mentioned, like on "Road to the Riches," so there
was room for that. I had the song "Life of a Drug Dealer," so
I had to let you know how I was kicking it. I was not an MC for that,
I was "this and that." Nowadays, it's different. Everybody wants
to be hard. Everybody needs dancers. Everybody needs effects at their
shows. It's all good to have a good show, but the game changed so much.
When I got on at Cold Chillin,' they told me that I'd need two dancers,
because that's what was going on at the time. But I didn't really need
that. I didn't need to run around with dancers. That's not necessarily
needed. Like KRS-One said a long time ago, and I will quote him when I
write a book, soon, he said, "they want dancers, they want lighting,
they want effects to make them look exciting, but it's frightening, because
without that, the whole crew is wick, wick, wick wack." They need
all of that, a bunch of facades that's just props. These things are needed
to cover up. Some people wear make-up to cover up what they don't have.
I used to say Rap was called Hip Hop and MC'ing is now called Rap. It's
like a gift. It's wrapped all up, you can't see what's on the inside.
It's hidden, it's wrapped now.
the game is different. I'm going to continue to do what I do, write what
I write, because we still have our fan base, and the fan base we have,
just like a lot of the writers that interview me, we see eye-to-eye on
a lot of things. That's why I'm able to do an interview for an hour, and
enjoy it, and have the writer enjoy it, and just be able to kick it. You
may have asked me two or three questions in one hour because I can just
go on and on. I'll keep on speaking and answer a lot of the questions
you were going to ask because we see eye-to-eye. You're not asking me
what kind of car I'm driving and what kind of rims I have. Those may be
questions for the average rapper because that's all they're talking about.
But if you approach me and ask me something like that, then you don't
know my history. When you deal with rappers that rap about a whole bunch
of material stuff not in a fly way, then you ask them questions like that.
"How much was that Jacuzzi in your house?"
I want to point out. You know on MTV cribs, they'll be in their kitchen,
and I don't see any bottled water, healthy food, no fruits, no veggies.
I don't see them in their marble bathroom talking about the filters on
their showers to get rid of the chlorine and the fluoride that's all in
our system. You don't hear none of that. Luxury is great, don't get me
wrong. If I had $10 million to buy the same house, I would, I might have
to have $100 million to buy it, but I would. I'm not going to spend $300,000
on a Bentley when all I have is $500,000. There's nothing wrong with being
fly. You're supposed to live and do it up, but to be caught up in that
My son, he
dresses fly all the time, as far as clothes and sneakers. He probably
has more clothes and shoes than everybody in his school, but he doesn't
run all day telling people to look at his shoes and clothes, because those
things mean nothing. You're not supposed to look down on a man about his
clothing and what he has, or how he dresses because he can't afford some
things, because that's nothing. You're supposed to be challenging each
other on intelligence. When we grew up, we always wanted to learn things.
That's probably why some of us are as we are today. RZA is intelligent.
When we were growing up, he read a lot of things, and he's able to apply
that at any given time. We may be talking about music, and he can relate
something to the Beatles who did such-and-such in the 1960's. Knowledge
was important growing up. There's a lot of knowledge that's been accumulated
over the years where you can relate to a lot of things. Some artists can't
even answer why they wrote something. "Well, you know, in the hood
everything is real. Where I'm from, if you 'bout it
" and then
the answer has nothing to do with the question. A lot of times, you can
get one answer. What made you write this? "Anger." It's plain
and simple. "Depression made me write this." "Joy."
all good, but songs shouldn't be separated like a "club" song
or "girl" song. I was watching an interview where the artist
said "I'm going to the studio trying to make that next hit."
You don't know what's a hit in the eyes of the public. You only know what's
a hit in your heart. You can't cater to them, you have to make music that
you love and then see if it's accepted by the masses. I'm always grateful
for the fans that run into me because of where their mind is at. It's
not in the gutter, it's on a certain level. Sometimes, a fan or writer
might word something I wrote in a slick way, and that's what I was thinking,
but I never said it that way. Sometimes, I'll see reviews, and I'm like
"wow, writers review my work in words that I've never expressed in
lyric." It's just like a lyric to me.
feel like your music goes over people's head?
when it comes to the majority of listeners in Hip Hop, definitely, way
above their heads.
of your lyrics about labels have always been negative, from "Protect
Ya Neck" to "Knock, Knock." Are you against the labels?
I was more
back then. As time goes on, you learn more and more about the labels.
I'm not really anti-label. I've thrown stuff at them. When I did "Protect
Ya Neck," I was angry at a label. Not when I recorded it, when I
wrote it. I was angry. I was getting at Cold Chillin'. That whole rhyme
was getting at them, the label that I was once signed to that failed to
promote me ("Words from a Genius"). "Protect Ya Neck"
came out a year after that. I was angry at them at the time. When I did
"Labels," I wasn't angry at them at the time. I may have come
off sounding angry at them, it may have sounded like that, and some people
thought I was still lashing out at them.
Knock," I may have used references in there that refer to labels,
but I'm not "anti-label." I'm not all for them nowadays, but
I'm not totally against them. They do what they do. The only thing that
gets me is when I put my all and all into something, it's not always the
label, it's the people too sometimes. I put a lot of work into "Legend
of the Liquid Swords" and "Beneath the Surface," just for
it to be mishandled. But that happens. And then when you end up selling
I don't think that I've decreased lyrically. I think that I
have increased as far as my lyrical content.
If you listen
to the "Grandmasters" album, I'm steadily moving up, lyrically.
I'm climbing lyrically, but I've been falling in sales. The label will
try to tell you it's you. I had a few corny cats at MCA trying to pass
me some corny beats. I don't take a beat from somebody because they're
hot, and then try to force it. I'll take a beat because I like it. I like
a lot of Kanye's production. I'm not going to search for him because he's
a hot producer right now, thinking that that's going to help me, but I
like his music. I have to like something before I get with it. I'm not
just trying to get with it because it's in demand. It doesn't work like
that. I've had labels try to pass stuff off to me. I might have done about
900,000 off of "Liquid Swords," which I'm satisfied with. I
did about 400,000 off of "Beneath the Surface," and 200,000
off of "Legend of the liquid Swords." I've decreased a lot in
sales, but it's not because of my talent of music, because I know I have
900,000 waiting out there. But if it's not accessible to them, then it's
a problem. Why should I do a fucking video for $300,000 or $250,000 that
don't ever get fucking played? Why? Fuck the video! Why should I? I'm
not trying to chase. Why do this for a radio station when they don't play
my shit? Let's target my market. I'll go on the road all year when it's
in my market. I'll do all the ski resorts with the snowboarders, because
I know that's my market. Those are Wu-Tang fans, hard-core. Hard-core!
They're a little urban. I'm not R&B, we don't do that R&B/Hip
Hop. To put me in the venue with some R&B rappers, that doesn't work.
But if you put us on the road with Rage Against the Machine, then that's
a good combination, because those are our fans. We share the same fans.
feel like Wu-Tang can transcend the boundaries that artists such as Young
Jeezy can't do?
Yeah, I think
we're able to do that. It's because of our music and what we rhyme about.
I think Young Jeezy just has different music from Wu-Tang. He has his
hardcore fans, and I think it would be hard to bring his fans together
with Wu-Tang, I don't even think promoters would do that. I could see
a Wu-Tang with a Mobb Deep, and M.O.P., Gangstarr, KRS-One, Nas
even see Outkast
Yeah. I could
see Outkast also. Definitely. Ras Kass, dead.prez, Talib Kweli...
Beatnuts, Black Eyed Peas, I could definitely see that.
back at "Grandmasters," "Exploitation of Mistakes"
has a crazy concept. What was your inspiration for writing that?
Off my last
album, I did a song called "Luminol." Luminol is a chemical
they spray on crime scenes to find blood that you can't see with the naked
eye. It reacts with the hemoglobin in the blood. I thought it would be
a great title, but the song is about this guy who is a murderer. I started
the song off by saying "for some, the sun will never come out tomorrow,
like those of heart-pounding tales of random horror, of a body count,
after smashing it, they're done with it, the victim is inflicted with
passionate punishment, specific offers of horrific torture, that left
crime scenes that retired law enforcers, his ruthlessness knew no bounds,
he shot them while gagged and bound, kept the whole town shocked with
their doors locked, firearms cocked, major roads blocked, no one knows
when he knocks, as a kid, he killed three pets of an attorney, so his
childhood passion became a lifelong journey, he grew into a world of destruction,
abductions, he left many body parts floating in the Hudson, whether found
in the ditch after the Rodger hitch, heard screams of high pitch from
scars he couldn't stitch, mutilated and decapitated white-collar chicks,
just from his involvement in local politics, his outfits were stained
with the blood of the slain, and his backyard was full of skeletal remains,
his goal of life was preparation for death, an autopsy showed affixiation,
loss of breath, was it his fascination for strangulation, the lynchings
in his 20's where his inspiration." I wrote that, "Luminol,"
along with "Exploitation of Mistakes" from watching crime scene
investigations, psychic detectives, A&E "Unsolved Mysteries,"
and programs like that.
I watch a
lot of History Channel, Discovery Channel, and Court TV. I watch History
Channel all the time. That's where I get the inspiration from to write
stories like that. That's where I got the idea of writing "Exploitation
of Mistakes." Once I got that beat from Muggs, when I heard that
beat with the piano loop
a lot of times when I hear beats, I don't
think I ever, in my whole career going back to 1991, I don't think I've
ever taken a rhyme off something and put it on a different beat. When
I heard the "Exploitation of Mistakes" beat, I knew it was a
story, and it was dark, it was definitely dark, just from the music. I
couldn't be rhyming about being in the club when I heard that beat. It
wasn't nothing happy. It was mystery murder in chilling detail. When I
heard that, the first thing that came to my head was two individuals found
in a lake. That's what came to mind.
do you find yourself doing your best thinking?
All over. I don't necessarily need a quiet place. I'm used to having noise.
I usually write with the TV on for some reason. Once in a while I might
work without any noise, but I usually have noise whether it's the news.
Usually not the video channel. Sometimes I might have it on, but not usually.
A lot of times if I'm in the house, I might have the television on and
I'm writing. I like the noise. It might be one of those soft stations
with light music. I like light music. It's real soft and soothing. It
puts you in the right state of mind. Jazz also. I'm always thinking. I'm
thinking all the time. I'm always figuring out ways. I always think music
and video with everything, and chess, all the time. And I combine everything.
I can watch sports, and I can combine it. Just like "Queen's Gambit,"
where I can combine sports. When people hear that, they might wonder if
I'm a sports fanatic. I'm not. I only watch sports if it's the championships,
the World Series, or the Super Bowl. I like to play sports, I used to
play a lot of sports when I was young, football on the block. But I don't
really watch sports like that. I would watch golf before I would watch
the baseball game.
chess do you play?
I play every
day when I'm home. If I'm out on the road, and I have no computer, unless
there's someone on the road that can play, I can't play. When I'm out
on the road with the Clan, I'll play RZA, I'll play Killa
a lot of
Clan members play chess, like Meth. I think he knows how to play but I
don't think he likes it. I play RZA and Masta Killa all the time.
you do against them?
go back and forth.
you apply from chess to Hip Hop?
Strategizing. It's civilized war. It's a test of strength. Many different
things. Calculation. Calculation of the board. Seeing the geometry that
exists on the board and the mathematics within the board and the pieces
itself. The relationship of the pieces, and many other different things.
I love chess. Love it. Love it, love it, love it. It's the best of all
board games. It's the royalty. Checkers doesn't compare, Monopoly is not
in it's league. Backgammon is cool but doesn't cut it. I'm not going to
knock checkers, but all the pieces do the same thing. There's a lot going
on in the game of chess, you have an army. You have captains, lieutenants,
sergeants, corporate soldiers, privates, you got the king and the queen
and their palace, their servants, it's crazy. It's a brilliant game. Brilliant.
Some of the stories about chess make it even more brilliant. It shows
you the depth of the game. When I speak about the calculation of the pieces
and the geometry that exists on the board, the way the pieces move and
the geometry of the squares, it's a complex game. It's very simple but
it's very complex. And they haven't solved the game yet. They haven't
figured it out. They haven't unlocked its mystery. I once heard someone
say that there's an infinite amount of variations. That shows you the
mathematics of the game that it could be like that. It's like a small
I play every day. I play online all the time because I don't have anyone
to play with.
back to "Auto Bio" and your past, do you think all the different
trips to different boroughs of New York contributed to your diverse style?
Bio" is great, because that shows where it all came from. I said,
"I was born with the mic in my hand, I took it from Medina (which
is Brooklyn) to the S.I. land (talking about Staten Island), we pulled
up on the block, it was the first of pit stops," meaning that we
moved a lot, my family, I said "the era of the spinning tops, around
the birth of Hip Hop, that was something I had identified with, so I made
it my point to exploit this fly gift, myself and RZA made trips to the
BX, a mass of ferocious MC's, a town of t-rex'." That's something
fly that you have to look at. We used to travel from Shaolin to the Bronx
in the '70's. We used to travel to the South Bronx where Hip Hop started.
They were way more advanced. Staten Island had one or two MC's in the
whole borough. The Bronx had many. The Bronx is how Hip Hop is now, then.
There's 8 million MC's now, there's a mass of them. Staten Island maybe
had about five MC's back then, I only remember two or three, but there
were a hundred of them in the Bronx. Then I said "giants in every
way, rap flows for every day, we knew we would get a reward with a price
to pay." This was our dream, this was like "whoa!" It's
not like we were trying to make records, because rap records didn't exist
I had been
rhyming since Mother Goose. We had that collection where if you order
a collection of encyclopedias. We had those books, and one of them had
the Mother Goose poems, and I knew those and memorized them. "Ole'
King Cole was a merry old soul, a merry old soul was he, he called for
his bowl and he called for his pipe, and he called for his fiddlers' three."
"Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey, along
came a spider and sat down beside her
" I knew all these poems,
word-for-word, and some of them I would change around. They had "Little
Boy Blue," "the three little kittens, they lost their mittens,
and they began to cry, 'oh mother dear, see here see here, our mittens
we have lost! What lost your mittens, you dear little kittens, then you
shall have no pie!" They still stick in my head! That was my introduction
to rhyming and wordplay.
when I traveled to the Bronx and heard it put to a beat and how fly it
sounded, it was like "whoa, this is my world, this is what I was
born for, this is me." I walked into it in about '76, '77, and Hip
Hop probably started in '74, so it was all early for us. That's why I
said "we knew we would get a reward with a price to pay." Then
I said, "the basic training was beyond entertaining, just the cadence
of the verbal expression, self-explaining, I wore my boots out from walks
across the borough, we tore troops out the frame when they challenged
the most thorough." We walked borough to borough battling anybody,
respectful battles though. That's what it's about. Then we began writing
and performing. It's always been about MC'ing. It was a way for us to
express ourselves, but it all goes back to those nursery rhymes. It started
from there. Sometimes I would take those rhymes and I would switch them.
In my early days in Hip Hop, a lot of MC's said the same things, like
hooks that lead into rhymes like the "yes, yes, y'all, to the beat
y'all, and you don't stop" and they would go into their rhyme. I
don't know who started that. Or "Bronx, rock the house, Shaolin,
rock the house." Those are certain things that people would say to
get ready to jump into it. Some of what people would say was taken from
nursery rhymes. One was taken from the "Ole' King Cole" rhyme.
It's great that I got to travel and experience and see other worlds up-close.
I got to travel to the Bronx and see how advanced they were and learn.
I was like a child learning in different schools of Hip Hop. I traveled
out to Queens, Jamaica, Hollis, because I lived out there in the '70's
and early '80's.
great MC's from that era and they had uniqueness. I lived in Staten Island,
I lived in Brooklyn. Growing up, any MC I was around, I was always the
best in the eyes of the people that hung out with me. I ran around with
dudes and they used to always want me to rhyme and challenge other people
because I was so equipped with the skill of MC'ing that I was hard to
beat when it came to battle-rhyming, from Dirty and RZA to anyone else
I partnered with. The history is great though. I think music and video.
When I see a commercial, I think of ways to write another commercial that
has nothing to do with the one I saw but the idea was just brought forth
it going to take to get a new Wu-Tang album?
We knocked out some songs. I don't know what it's going to come out of
it. We've done enough songs to put out an album. It's just a matter of
getting us all together. So many brothers are doing so many different
things. I'm for doing another album with Wu-Tang. Maybe one or two more
solos, and I'm going to keep writing. I started writing scripts for movies.
I just want to take my writing to a whole other level.
plans do you have for writing?
I have a couple of ideas I started working on awhile ago, but I haven't
worked on it in a minute because I've been doing songs and music. I go
back and forth on it. I jump to this, then I jump on that project, then
I try to write this commercial, this skit, this album. As of right now,
I'm about to do an album with Shavo of System of a Down. I haven't really
shared that information to anyone. I think he may have shared that information
with a couple of people. This is going to be something so different and
on a whole other level. What I'm writing for this album, oh man, it's
about to be crazy. It's about to be crazy man. I'm excited about it, he's
excited about it, and it's about to be on a whole other level right now.
the album coming?
drafting right now. It's still in it's fetus-stage. I'm just writing,
it's just thoughts. I have a direction of what I want to do. It's going
to be something so incredible and so unique.
crazy. Do you plan on doing more work with Muggs?
We can do
another album if he wants to. I'm just going to continue to do songs.
He's got the sound that I like, and that's why it worked out. I was able
to match vocals to his music in a great way. The beats were almost tailor-made
for me. I was able to put that together and that's how we were able to
knock it out. I've also done a few songs with Muggs in the past.
spoke about beats sounding "tailor-made" for you, how important
I think some
artists, when they hear a beat, they'll just throw something at it real
fast. Sometimes, I'll take a beat home, I'll listen to it for a few days,
I'll play with it. Sometimes I hear it automatically. Usually when I hear
it, I know which road to take, but I don't know which exit to get off.
Usually I say "I need to go this way. Where? I don't know yet, but
I'll find out on the way." And that's how it is.
Deck said that he doesn't feel the industry isn't ready for another Wu-Tang
album. Do you feel the same way?
is caught up in all this other bullshit that's out. But the people are
ready for a Wu-Tang album, definitely. Sometimes you have to separate
yourself from what is the industry. If you're don't fit in, you don't
fit in. We have to find out where we fit in. We're not on BET now like
we were everyday, 10 years ago, all day, everyday. It's a different type
of music now. If you put money behind anything, you can push it and promote
it. If it's something real good, it will expand. We still have a hard-core
fan base. Wu-Tang will do a show
I mean the last show we did had
10,000 people there with no promotions. We did the show in the Meadowlands,
the day before Dirty passed. That's the last Wu-Tang show we did. Dirty
wasn't even there. There was 10,000 people there. We probably only sold
3,000 prepaid tickets, so 7,000 walked in. How do you see that? A group
that hasn't had anything out in a few years
that's something. That's
something man, that's something to look at.
always had dope album covers. How important has artwork been from the
"Liquid Swords" cover to the "Grandmasters" album?
very important because you're trying to make a statement. You want to
make a statement and you want to have something that defines your music
and the titles of songs, just like "Grandmasters," how we did
the chess setting. "Beneath the Surface" was outer space looking
at the Earth. We were above the Earth but we were still "beneath
the surface" at the same time. Being in the universe is like being
deep down in the ocean, being out there and looking down. We wanted to
show how large it was, it was like a continent. Artwork is very important.
I think it should be simple, right to the point, and something unique
and different. I think "Liquid Swords" is great. That's a chessboard.
A lot of people don't know. "Liquid Swords" is a chess board
floating in the universe.
children want to be MC's and do you want them to be?
My son, he
was born an MC. He was rhyming before he could even put words together,
humming to a beat. He made beats, he rhymed, he understands Hip Hop. He's
straight-up, he's laid-back, calm, swift. He did a beat for one of the
Wu-Tang songs we did. He produced the beat. We went out to L.A. and Muggs
was showing him how to work certain machines. Some of them I have at home,
I just don't use them. He got with RZA and RZA gave him a few pointers
on a couple of other drum machines. He loves Hip Hop, but he's not in
a rush. He's done songs too. He's 14. Three songs he did when he was 11,
and they're still incredible. You'll hear them and be like "damn,
is that shorty rhyming like that?" But there's no rush right now.
When the time is right, he'll sign. We don't move like that. We have a
studio at home, and he's in there once in a while. He's not in there all
the time, he's not on it like that. He loves to watch people battle, and
analyze and judge it. He buys just about anything that comes out. When
somebody drops something, he'll buy it, give it his ear, and give me his
opinion. A lot of times when I get beats, I'll let him hear them first.
There's no rush. I'm not trying to force my son, or he would have had
an album already. The timing has to be right and everything. We have footage
from the Rage Against the Machine Tour when he was five, doing his thing
on stage, going back-and-forth, his high squeaky voice. I did a show in
LA at the Knitting Factory, it was just me and him, he was backing me
up. That's what he loves to do, he loves it.
you want to say to everyone out there reading this?
album is food for thought, it's worth having if you want to hear well-thought-out
lyrics and tight production that just fits together like a hand and a
glove, then you'll really appreciate this if you love Hip Hop. Those who
hear it will love it, and those who don't hear it are missing out on it,
I'll leave it like that.