Oh, I feel great, man. I feel great. I told everybody that the album was out and I feel 100% golden.
There was some confusion over the release date. How did that happen?
That’s on Babygrande. Homeboy over there registered my album like he had it. I’ve been telling everybody that it was August 21 for the longest and then I see Babygrande’s saying that it’s coming out August 28. I don’t know if those dudes are in love with me or what this is about. I don’t know what they want to do to my career but there’s always somebody out there trying to sabotage your shit. But I don’t know what the hell that is, man. Word. I don’t know how they confused it with the date. I go online and somebody shows me that it says it’s coming out on August 28 on Babygrande Records. We really have to sit down and go to the table because these guys, they really, really wanted the album. But now the album is out and what can I say? I’m not going to say nothing about it. You see the response.
How does it feel to finally have The Offering out and in stores?
Yo, I went and bought three copies! That’s how I felt. That shit felt like a load off my chest. Finally the shit is there. And thank you for being so patient. The album is yours, man. I feel so good.
It took you awhile to get the deal for The Offering with Good Hands Records. Why did it take so long for you to get the deal you wanted for The Offering?
I don’t know. It’s dealing with the team too. For The Offering, when you’re dealing with so many different individuals and this person wants to go here and this person wants to go there, it gets confusing. I have a strong, solid fanbase and I’m not weak. There’s nothing about me that’s weak. I think that even with these A-list artists on it, I don’t think that all of the team was focused on the same thing. They knew that the shit was going to be dope, but I just think that the team I was trying to put together was too scattered.
What was the most frustrating part about trying to get a deal and an outlet for The Offering?
The most frustrating part was organization. Organization, man, and a oneness. The most frustrating part was that I had to do most, excuse me, all of the shit, by myself. Everybody said, “Yo, it’s hot,” but at the end of the day, I had to broker the deal and I had to travel out to Cali and I had to do that. I didn’t have somebody putting something in somebody’s hand. I had to do the shit myself.
Are you happy with how Good Hands has handled The Offering?
Like I told DJ Truth (CEO of Good Hands Records), it all started with a talk at the bar. It all started at the bar. Once we had a talk at the bar, he convinced me. I wasn’t going to hold onto it anymore. The money was right and the love was there. I wanted to make this thing happen from a perspective where we both could understand that this was my career and this was my life. Putting it out there, we were talking about this, but sitting down and talking about it sparked everything.
At any point were you going to give up on the labels and just put it out yourself?
Yo, we were on the verge of doing that! Me and my partner Amal McCaskill were on the verge of doing that. We were on the verge of going totally independent. You have my people at Nature Sounds…these niggas weren’t even answering my calls and Hell Razah was over there. I just stepped back and I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll put this shit out myself’ because no one was returning my calls. I don’t know if it was a big-ass conspiracy, but no one was returning my phone calls. Amal said we could put it out through MySpace.
That’s when 730 came up with the link to the Good Hands situation and we talked about movement. That’s what kept my head focused because I was like, ‘I could do it like this for this record and for the next one and the next one I can do it like that.’ That’s what really happened with that situation. These labels were playing me like I was starving, but in the meantime I was doing shows and I was not starving. I still have fans out there and they are loyal people. And because of their support, I want to make this clear, the artists can eat the next day and they can record again. I want everybody to know this clearly – support your artists, especially when these labels are shitting on us. I don’t see myself as a crab cat. I’ve been in this for awhile and I’ve always been in the top 3 or the top 5 or the top 10. You’ll always see my name mentioned somewhere. Someone’s always thinking of Killah Priest. So when these labels are trying to treat me like that, I’m like, ‘What the fuck is the game coming to?’ AZ and Cormega have their situations and Priest didn’t. I was like, ‘Fuck the labels.’ Sometimes I just want to say, “Fuck it, man. When they start shitting on us, we do tours.” The people that came out supported me and I got paid. I’m able to live off of it and I’m able to say, “Fuck the labels that are treating me like I’m some kind of crab, like I’m going to take $5 g’s and then be broke in a month when I’m sitting on an album like The Offering.”
Amal was with me 100% all the way. Whatever I wanted to do, he wanted to do. We sat down and whenever we made moves, we made them together. And talking to 730 on the phone and doing the little freestyles that were one take and I was throwing it out, that kept me going in the game too. Some of those shits were hard! Priest was in the studio and doing that because I had access to the studio and I could do that. Now I’m showing niggas that I can do this with the flows and that shit is nothing to me.
On “Essential” you say, “The Offering is the movie, my other albums were just trailers.” That’s a pretty big statement.
Yeah, man. Yeah. Exactly. I just stepped up and cats are showing the album love. I’ve matured as far as the flow and concepts. I could never take anything away from Heavy Mental. That was me when I was inexperienced. That was a time-bomb. That was Priest coming straight out of the street. This one is me coming out of the tombs. This one is me coming out like, ‘These niggas tried to crucify me so long in this business.’ Just look at my tracklisting and my history in this game. When I dropped my first album, the swarm came. It started when I first started. I never really got to breathe. And then Sunz of Man and the whole group dropped right then. You had cats thinking, ‘Yo, Priest came up out of the Sunz of Man.’ Priest started the Sunz of Man! It was just the atmosphere. When I came out, there was just so much stuff around me and there were so many individuals that it was just overwhelming at times. I never really got to sit out there and just do what I do.
What was it like recording “Gun For Gun” with Nas?
It is what it is, man. That was love. Nas is a beautiful person. It was a mutual respect. Nas, I think he kind of lost his mind on there and he spit a crazy, ill-long verse. I wanted to do one verse apiece, but I ended up doing two verses. I didn’t want to chop his verse. I could have chopped that and made it two verses, but I came in as the clean-up man on that. That’s history seeing MCs like Priest and Nas on a track.
A couple of different versions of that song exist. Why is that?
That’s DJ Truth and Good Hands. That’s the heads that be running with it. Let me clear the atmosphere. Originally 4th Disciple did the beat. I really liked the beat that 4th Disciple did, but it was kind of strange. I don’t think it was the beat for Priest and Nas. Me and 4th had a little situation between us where we didn’t even speak for a little while. So I lost communication there and if there was communication, I could have got a whole different beat from 4th. Timbo King was originally on that beat with me also. That beat came from me just spazzing on it. And then at the time, I was thinking that I had to let my comrades shine. That’s how I was thinking. So Timbo got on it. 4th told me that that was a song for me and Nas. I think me and Nas have to touch up one more to really give niggas what they want. That was a song that was already premeditated and done because Nas just came in and laced it.
Let me just say, the different versions came from everybody trying to make it that shit, like a beat that you could play anywhere and nobody’s going to get hurt. You have to think about how the business side is looking at it. They’re looking at it like it’s a Nas track and they have to throw it out there. I’m looking at it like Nas is spitting like he did during his Stillmatic time when he had that hunger. I don’t want Nas to get on a song with me for some radio shit. We spit it hard, but next time, it’s going to all be premeditated murder between me and him.
Did Rakim inspire “How Many”?
Of course. Of course, man. I wanted him on that song because that was the era that I come from that I wanted to do. I did a song like “How Many” for cats like Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. That song was something that I had to get off my chest. There was something inside me that had me wanting to spit it for those cats. I would say the ’88 era did that. But Rakim’s manager was telling me he was going to come to the studio. But when you have an MC that’s as great as he is, they take time to get. His manager was probably like, ‘Who is Priest?’ His manager, I don’t really know from nowhere. But that’s how that went.
How does Rakim inspire you as an MC?
I mean, who doesn’t Ra inspire? I think it was a change that he brought. It was not just the average stuff that was spit at the time and it was something that I could relate to. When you’re talking knowledge, you’re talking knowledge. Rakim had his era and he’s a legend, but I just think that as far as aspiring to be like him, I was very into the verses and the bars and I think too when I sit down and write. I can relate to everything he’s saying and when I’m staring at the bars, I have to make sure that they’re murals. I have to make sure that the bars stay up for a lifetime. So when I sit down to write, bars can take years to build. It takes me light-years to create, but I can do it in seven days like as long as it took to create the Earth. And then there was light and everything was right. That’s how I write. It’s just like a planet or a universe.
You also reference Slick Rick on “Priesthood.” What kind of influence does he have on you?
This album is definitely like an ’88 throwback album. Slick Rick, to me, is the greatest MC as far as storytelling and as far as his presence on the mic. He didn’t even step to them, but he had cats like Big Daddy Kane in his videos. He was just like The Ruler. I just wanted to get into his song and do it because I think that he made one of the best albums I have ever heard. You could see the mindstate that I was in. It’s like I have a big Star of David on my chest right now, like a big medallion. Those are the guys that inspired me. I don’t have too much inspiration these days. I would much rather take it back to the dudes who really emceed on that microphone and told me stories and brought me through that door. Slick Rick is definitely one of the best MCs to me. I can remember playing his records over and over in my head.
On “Melodic Part 2” you talk about how you could write rhymes before you could ride a bike. When you’ve been doing it for that long, how do you make sure you keep improving?
I try to do this. I try to listen to my songs like “Heavy Mental” and see how they inspire me and try to write even better than those. It’s just natural, man. It’s just a natural thing. I could play football and I could write. And I find inspiration from life itself. I find inspiration from a thunderstorm. I find inspiration from a sunny day. I find inspiration from a calm sea or a strong wave. It could be a tidal wave coming or it could be a tropical island. I find inspiration from all of that. Life is beautiful. I find so much beauty in life and I love life. Writing rhymes is my sanctuary and my religion.
You also talk about having sex with aliens on “Melodic Part 2.” Where did that come from?
That’s just some bugged out shit! (laughs) I don’t know where that came from. I think it just came from watching Star Trek or Twilight Zone one night. Plus Godz Wrath made the beat. I have to chill sometimes.
“Happy” is a different type of song for you. How important are songs like that to you and what inspired that?
What inspired that is that there were too many people around me that were passing away that were very close to me. And it got too outrageous and I didn’t feel like being said. I had to be happy. Once my grandmother passed away, I said, “I have to make something different” because she would want that and she would want that I made something happy. Shakim Allah came through with the beat. I know that that beat was used before but I wanted to really melodically take that beat and take it somewhere. “Happy” was inspired by my grandmother. She passed away before my sister and my nephew Marcus, who passed away from a gunshot. He was murdered from way back. All of that stuff, I had to take all of that up because the early ‘90s took a lot of stuff away from me. I had to say, “Fuck it, I’m going to be happy.” Maybe it can inspire someone else to be happy because I had to take my pain and I had to just make sure that I could feel joy. Whatever comes my way, I can handle it.
“Stand Still” is a very revolutionary track. What was your state of mind recording that song?
Big shout out to Blood Sport and Immortal Technique. That was a very revolutionary track. I call Immortal Technique the new age, upgraded version of Che Guevara. What inspired that is that we have to start a movement. It’s not about rhymes or anything. It’s a whole, full movement. It’s a revolutionary/evolutionary movement. The revolution is changing things up. We can go gun for gun and tit for tat, but let’s expand our mind just a little deeper from the war. Let’s expand our mind to where we create our own governments just like the government did. I have to be careful what I say, but fuck it, they know. We have to elevate to a very higher plane. They’re using their imagination and we have to use the combination of imagination and one nation. We have to become one nation and use it on a higher nation, you know?
On “Essential,” you question whether you’re a genius or a lunatic. Where would you say you are right about now?
(laughs) I would say I’m a genius. I would definitely say I’m on my way to understanding this. I’m sitting here on the border, man and I’m not going to say that I’m fully in that zone, but we’re all on the borderlines because of certain worldly situations. I pray for the day that I can just sit and write and communicate with pure thought with me and the Most High connected as one and we can walk out in this cosmic universe and align stars and build on stuff. We can start dealing with creation and creating. And once our thoughts can go into creating and developing molecular structures…I don’t want to get too far, but we have to start thinking outside the box and not what they want us to think. And cats get so scared to think outside the box.
You work with your son Zariya, also known as Young Priest, on “PJs.” What was that like for you?
That was his first time. He came up with the inspiration for that song. We actually worked on that one together. That was his idea. I was like, ‘I’m going to go with that. I’m going to go ahead and throw this on.’ Hell Razah, Amal and everybody that was around when we were making it loved it. I said, “I’m putting this on there.” Word. That was a good thing.
(Priest passes the phone to Zariya)
Zariya, what was it like recording “PJs” with your dad?
Zariya: It was fun. It was a good experience for me to do that. I wasn’t expecting him to put me on a track. I wanted to be on one before, but then he didn’t let me. And this time around he did. That was a new experience. It’s getting fun now.
Are you going to be recording more tracks in the future?
Zariya: Yeah, I’m going to be recording more tracks in the future.
Priest: He’s writing all the time! He has some shit for the future.
Priest, how are you helping Zariya as an MC?
Well, he’s really like an artist. He likes to draw. It was fun working with him. It was different.
Being righteous is a major theme of The Offering. How many MCs are righteous in the game today?
There are very little. “Many are called, few are chosen.” That’s a proverb. There are very little that I see that have power when they get on the microphone. There are very few that should have that power because it’s very dangerous out here. It’s very dangerous out here. There are cats that have $30 million and why can’t they take $2 million and make two other people rich and then they can go and make other people rich like the Jewish community does? It’s very dangerous out here. Life is a dangerous situation and it’s about what we do with this situation that’s going to balance out our outcome. Do you want to just live out your day and take your money with you? You can’t take it with you and you can’t do nothing with it. The day is going to come and we all have to take precautions with how we deal with life and with how we deal with others.
We get caught up in the whole “I’m an MC. I’m on the microphone,” but you’re only thinking about yourself on the microphone. You’re not thinking about the others that are listening to you. We know you have jewelry and money in your pocket. Why do you have to tell us? You know you can make a difference and y’all can make a change. When Jesus spoke, he had the whole day to brag about he was the Son of Man and how he was the Son of God. He wasn’t like, ‘Yo, I could walk up in Heaven with the angels.’ No. He went to the lowlies and told them that they had a life and that they had a future. He didn’t have a microphone but he had a voice and an audience. He was an MC and he wrote books.
You have a lot of different vibes in the production for The Offering. What did you want in the production for The Offering?
The album is the color orange. It’s orange. I’m a Leo and you can’t blend anything with orange to make anything. Orange is a beautiful color. It’s the sun. C.Rayz Walz dropped something about the color orange that was deep. But when I heard about the melodicism in it, it’s just there. A lot of producers hit me off with beats that I was really feeling and it just happened to be very melodic. At that time, I felt like maybe I could switch it up and go here and there with it. I was switching it up and I didn’t want to just make the regular hip-hop album. It’s an ’88 album blended with some knowledge and everything I wanted to hear when I was younger.
Your rhymes are extremely vivid on The Offering. How did you write The Offering?
Wow. The Offering was written in pieces. It was written precept upon precept, line upon line. It was written during times. It was just during times and moments. Even when I was doing the Black Market and during that time, I did “Ghetto Jesus.” That was done back then. And then “Essential” came and then “Salvation” came in at the last minute. There are songs that I took off that I was really mad that I had to. I didn’t want to let nothing go, really. I was kind of upset about it, but Amal told me to just make it solid. So we went with that concept. It was written piece by piece. The song “The Offering” was actually done awhile back when the album was first titled Priest Offering. 4th Disciple said that was dope. When I first said “Priest Offering,” it sounded dope. But later on it didn’t sound as strong. Then 4th said, “The Offering sounds just a little more straight to the point” and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ Now that I’m saying “Priest Offering,” it sounds kind of straight too. (laughs)
A lot of high caliber MCs cite you as an inspiration. What does that mean to you?
Everything, man. That touches me so much. That inspires me to keep it going. That inspires me to do what I do. That inspires me to make the movement happen. That inspires me, man. I can’t get a better feeling. It’s the biggest compliment that you can get as an MC, I think.
You got the 4 Horsemen together on “InnerG.” Is a 4 Horsemen album ever really going to happen?
Yeah. I guess so. Eventually it will. Eventually it will. I’ve been out here on the West, doing shows like Rock the Bells. I talked to Ras Kass, Canibus and Kurupt. It’s all about getting everybody to sit down at the table and getting everybody to come together. I think I can pull that off. I definitely think that there will be a Horsemen album coming.
Will you and GZA ever do an album together?
Yo, GZA’s calling me to do an album together. He called me before the album dropped and he said, “Yo, god, let’s do this together. We really need to get back on a whole bunch of joints and I’m with it.”
How would that album come out?
Oh, man, that would be a dream for me that I never even brought up. The cat that I used to watch and now I’m doing songs with him. If you notice, we’re on tracks here and there. I’m always on his album and he was on my first album. That’s going to happen. I can definitely say that much. That would be a treat for me and I think for him as well because he called me up. He sounded excited and I’m excited too. That would be dope. I don’t think niggas would be ready for that though. I think we would take over.
Are you involved in Wu-Tang’s new album 8 Diagrams at all?
Yep. I came down to wherever their studio was at. They had the tracks playing and I did something before. I don’t know if they’re going to use that exact one, but yeah, I should be on that. I’m not going to make any promises, but definitely that shit will happen. I think that the nine members are great, but they need to definitely step it up with these new cats.
How do you think 8 Diagrams is coming?
Oh, I heard a song that was crazy. Ghost kind of like murked it. Ghost had done the song. It’s coming good though. I mean, I can’t judge everything because I haven’t heard the entire album, but there should be some good shit on there.
You stay on the road and do a ton of shows by yourself and with the GZA. How important is that to you?
I think that if I didn’t do that…I don’t have a regular 9 to 5. That is my job. That’s very important. I love it when people show up to my shows. Being on the road, that’s very important for an artist now. That’s the way artists survive now because these labels do not give a fuck about artists, especially if you’re not up there in the videos. And it’s sad. It’s sad that it’s like that. But the energy I have been attracting has been very positive and a very big part of staying alive is doing shows. That’s essential. I’ve been doing shows with R.A. the Rugged Man and shout out to him. He’s one of the illest lyricists and he’s been around just as long as I have. I say that because I’ve been seeing him on the road a lot and he has a great show.
It seemed like you and Nas were going to do some business together and that never happened. How come?
I don’t know. I don’t know too much about that. I don’t know if Nas’ label is really set up and ready to go yet. Nas is putting out records himself and I just don’t know if Ill Will is really ready to go. It’s just a mutual coolness and a mutual peace when I see the brother. I saw him the other day and we talked and built. He was feeling the album cover a whole lot. I don’t know about his status right now, but me and some of his peoples like Mike talk a lot. We’re always kicking it. I don’t really know about the business. I don’t want to speak on that too much, but it would really be a great move, wouldn’t it? I’m willing to work with anybody who really loves hip-hop and is really ready to do business and do something hot.
What do you have to do to make sure The Offering is a success?
Do the shows and keep promoting. I think that as the people start picking it up, they will be like, ‘Yeah, there’s some shit on here!’ There is definitely some shit to be reckoned with. Songs like “Ghetto Jesus”…There are songs on there where cats can see that I took it back. What makes me laugh is the new dudes that are just getting up on me. I’ve been around for a long time but I still have a breathe of life because I wasn’t used up. A lot of these dudes are used up. They’ve used up all of their talent and they’ve said all of their bars, but I still get another chance. Priest is here in 2007 like an 18 year-old.
How are you gauging the success of The Offering?
Man, I’m loving it, man. I’m glad that the people accepted it and that cats know that I didn’t fall off. This album was done before Hell Razah’s Renaissance Child. It wasn’t old, but I finally got it out there and I’m glad that it is accepted.
What’s the next move for Killah Priest?
Right now I know I have Behind the Stained Glass. We’re going to drop that sometime later on. I’m also working with other artists. I’m working with artists and getting this stuff off the ground.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Yo, thanks for the support and thanks for the wait, man. Thanks for waiting for me. I told y’all that it was going to be there, that it was done and that it was going to happen. So thanks for the support. Big Pun is the greatest. I want to shout out Big Pun. He’s one of the greatest MCs ever. Thanks for the support and the love. And watch out for Behind the Stained Glass.