Behind the Stained Glass has been out for over a month at this point. Are you happy with how it’s been doing?
It is what it is. I mean, it is what it is. It is what it is. That’s all I gotta say. The people that are getting it, thank you for the support and thank you for understanding real music and thank you for learning how to appreciate real music and real hip-hop. Yo, it’s a blessing that you can see it because a lot of people are going to catch onto it maybe years from now or maybe they’ll never catch onto it. But it’s alive and it’s breathing.
Why do you think so many people skipped over the album?
Well, a lot of times you have the media and they’re controlling what you’re hearing and they’re dominating it. It’s an actual fact. Unless you take a look at who you are and look inside of yourself, you won’t find real music. A lot of people know real music but a lot of men and women are being misled as to what music is. They’re letting the radio and TV dictate to them what’s real music. You know what’s real. The media’s job is to downplay the real artists and push out the artists that they want. They want the artists out there that don’t have the passion. I saw an interview with Jay-Z where he said he had the passion for his job and that’s why he’s still going. That’s the same thing for me. When you go from our era from rapping, I was from back then. I’m still young but I’m from back then. I’ve been putting my son up on real hip-hop and he has a good ear. And he’s mad young. I was showing him the difference between real music and hip-hop. At the end of the day it’s going to be very shameful when you look back. Look at songs like “This is why I’m Hot”. It was blazing but it was just for that minute. I make timeless music for the future. The people that are living for the now are not going to get it. The times are changing. They’ll get it but not when it was appreciated.
Why would the media want to shut you down?
Man, I don’t know what the conspiracy is but I definitely know that it’s a conspiracy. When you got your own supporters, just like ChamberMusik and WuTangCorp, my album dropped and I don’t see no pictures on their sites. A lot of people get caught up in this corporate thing and they’re all for themselves. I’m going to always be who I am. I’m my own entity and my music is always going to be real. You have to learn how to be real and how to always support. Look at these Wu-Tang-based websites. I looked on ChamberMusik and I did a nice interview with them brothers. Me and Classic kicked it and everything. I’ve never seen nothing posted. I don’t see it nowhere on there. And I’m looking at their situation like, ‘Yo, fam, you’re helping hurt hip-hop.’
Then I’m looking at HipHopDX, another website who downplayed the album. They kind of downplayed The Offering and now all of a sudden they like The Offering. Some of these cats who are coming in and reviewing albums, they’re really into the mainstream albums and it’s a personal thing. They get these jobs because they want the money, straight up. It’s not because they have a passion for it. If you hired me tomorrow to work in a country radio station, I don’t know nothing about country music but I know Dolly Parton. I might play that shit all day long. And then if you have artists who are really into country music, they might call me up and yell at me but I’m only playing what I know. What I know is Dolly Parton. So it’s a passion thing. They need somebody up there who knows real country music who’s up there and I’m just making this as an example. HipHopDX, they even put up an interview I did. Let me clear this up. I’m not calling Black men “coons.” I like Snoop and I’m a fan of Snoop. I'm backing up from it and I’m looking at it as a whole. People are so ignorant they’re only taking one thing and they make something out of it. The people making comments, they don’t understand full knowledge. And I’m not trying to push nothing on these cats. If you don’t know then you just don’t know. If you get the albums all the truth is up in there. The truth is in Behind the Stained Glass. This world ain’t based on jewels and stuff like that.
Hip-hop is divided into two parts but right now it’s unbalanced. You have two sides. There’s the party hip-hop, the fake hip-hop, where the cats have no skills.
Behind the Stained Glass is one of your most introspective albums. Was that intentional?
Thank you. Exactly. That’s what it is. It is what it is. That’s what artists like myself, that’s what we do. We’re constantly changing. I’m in the middle of shooting my video for “Redemption” right now. We’re probably going to reshoot “Ghetto Jesus”. We shot “What Profits a Man”. When you get this album, you gotta listen to it. In time you’ll start getting it. It’s like how Rakim made music back then. We needed to take hip-hop like that too. You’ll catch onto the jewels in there. You can’t just listen to one song. Every line is carefully sewn together beautifully. My man from Scifen said it best. He said, “Yo, man, it’s like you matured on this album” and I feel like I did. My sister passed away. I’m grown. I’m over 35. I’m over 35 right now. I’m in here to do this right now so you get real talk.
You spoke of your sister’s passing on “4Tomorrow”. Was that difficult for you?
That’s real shit right there. That’s real life right there. Cats are sickening with that because they don’t respect real music. They don’t respect real artists. I’m not even concerned with that. If they don’t get it they don’t get it. It’s good that they’re talking about it anyway. That’s real stuff right there. That’s about my sister right there. She passed away. I didn’t have an older brother. She was my only older sister and she was a real part of my life. It was real. I put a real part of myself out there and I’m cool with that. A lot of cats are holding stuff in but I’m cool with letting it out. If you can’t appreciate that, I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry. But I’m not compromising me for anybody. I’m a fan of hip-hop and I know what’s real and I know what’s not. I know when it’s coming from an artist’s heart and when it’s fabricated and copied and when they’re saying it because this brother’s saying that.
And I was really talking to myself. I heard a rapper say one time that when they get frustrated they go to the studio and they let that anger and that pain and that sorrow out. Some of my best work is when I go through something, when something happens that’s as tragic as that. I talk to myself a lot. Behind the Stained Glass is me. It’s like a redemption thing, just like my new song “Puramids”. It’s like a pyramid that’s purer now. I think it’s growing now. Jay-Z said 30 is the new 20. I think 30, right now, is the new infinity.
The Offering featured a lot of guest appearances, including Nas, Immortal Technique and the Four Horsemen. Why did you eliminate the guest MCs on Behind the Stained Glass?
Yeah. It was fun. The Offering, I hadn’t been out in what, four or five years? I don’t really know. But I was so caught up in working with everybody else. I was so caught up with getting this business straight with Amal and getting this marketing and doing the Black Market joint with Razah. There were so many elements that were happening during that time. I had something that I was holding onto that was going to kill you. It was really something special. It was something special and we couldn’t just put it out there because it took time. When you’re dealing with different businesses and dealing with all of that stuff, it’s tough. That’s why I like to stick to my team. It works.
Do you roll with a smaller team today?
Yeah. I kept it like that. Exactly. The one thing that’s difficult is for me to get time to myself to really plot things out. One thing about me is I’m a thinker and I like to sit down and plot everything and put it into perspective. I’m a spiritual thinker. I was just listening to this interview with ‘Pac and we have a lot of similarities. I go this far back with him. I talked to him twice. We kicked it twice. I was at RZA’s party with him. He’s not here right now and they don’t respect what he did. They’re not trying to hear no rap. They’re going to respect it. When ‘Pac was around, niggas weren’t sweating ‘Pac. Then they did when he was gone. Then everybody hopped on 2Pac and they wanted to hear Makavelli. A lot of dudes were fake and we gotta get that fakeness out of them. They need to be reborn again and get that fakeness out of them. Cats have to be loyal now. A lot of dudes, and I find this coming from NY, a lot of brothers in New York, we gotta get out of that state and come out and be real. Yeah. We gotta stop putting on this façade and putting on this front and just fronting all of the time. We gotta be real. Cats put on suits and make the outside look good but the inside is ugly. Brothers are not comfortable being real because their outside shell, it’s not real. It’s a façade. It’s just a front they’re putting out. It’s about what’s deep down inside the heart. Start dressing up your inside, not your outside. A lot of cats walk around talking about what they got and their inside is all corroded and it’s not put together. I started working on the inside. Wait until you hear “The Puramid”. There’s a lot of issues in there. I’m talking to cats and I’m making a lot of music now. Dudes are going to see some real stuff. I got time to think. At night I think. I’m a thinker. I know how to put those ideas into reality and make it real. Cats who have been around me will tell you. Even RZA will tell you that Priest is an ill thinker. Cats know that I have an ill head on my shoulders. But I’ve been by myself and I know how to put things together. And I know how to come up with ideas. It’s nothing to me. I mastered that style and I’m ready.
Speaking of RZA and the Clan, you went back to your history on “What Profits a Man”. Why did you feel
I felt like crews break up. We got a lot of powers acting. You saw what happened internally with the Wu and the world and reality. I just wanted to reflect and let cats know a true story with how I started. I wanted them to hear a real story from me as far as how it all began. In the second verse I said, “From my connections with 60 Second.” 60 Second was really the first dude I met on the outside who was a Wu affiliate way back. And that was Dirty’s cousin, who they never really told me about. But from my connections with him we became a group The Art of War. Then I said, “The Art of War ‘til __ signed to Geffen to 5 Percent lessons. This is a lifetime addressing, Disciples of Armageddon.” That’s when me and ‘Bazz hooked up with Disciples of Armageddon. 60 was good. This was real stuff. He didn’t even want to do this. ‘Bazz was like, ‘Yo, Priest, you gotta come to the studio. You gotta come to the studio.” My nephew had just gotten killed and every time it seemed like I was going to go, something happened. I quit. I had just went through what I did with The Gravediggaz. I was slumped over in the crib and I had to look inside of myself and say, “You know what? It may be for a cause. You never know why things happen.” I went to the studio and I told RZA that I would rather be a fan and be on the side. But the brothers inspired me. They kept on pushing me to do this. And then I rhymed with Dirty and I became feeling comfortable with that sound. I saw that I could really do this. I’m not worried about blowing up. My fanbase is inside. They feel the music and that’s what I’ve been teaching. When you look at whether I’m rhyming with Sunz of Man or with anyone else, I’m teaching. Everybody who’s been around me has known what Priest is about and what I’m about. I make any cats around me, I make them cake. I’m about progress. I’m about teamwork and building. I’m about progress. “What Profits a Man”, that’s my favorite song. That’s my favorite song because I was speaking on friendship. I was speaking on life after death. That’s what it is.
You debuted your high-pitched alter-ego on The Offering. Now it sounds more like a cross between Quasimoto and T-Pain. What’s going on with that?
(laughs) That’s beautiful. When I’m in the studio I’m always trying something different. I give it to cats like Lil’ Wayne. At least he’s trying. Lil’ Wayne is from the South and at least he’s trying different types of techniques. I’ve been trying that for awhile. When you get artists in the studio, I try different things. I try different things. That’s what it’s about. A lot of people can’t do that because they don’t have the talent. A lot of rappers aren’t supposed to be rappers. A lot of MCs, they should be doing something else. Not everybody is supposed to rhyme.
Let me say this. I never said Killah Priest is the best. That was not my M.O. to say that. But so many people are like, ‘Come on, man, when you have the work ethic” and when cats around you are telling you, ‘Yo, man, you should be here. You should be there. You should be so big,’ sometimes that brings something out of me. I’ve been in arguments when cats are telling me where I should be at. And I’m looking at it and sometimes my name is bigger than me. People know my name but they don’t even know it’s me when they see me. I’ve been told by so many people where I should be but I know where I am spiritually. Everything else will come. Yeah, we have to make money and I do a good job at doing that. I’m not going to stop hustling. I do shows and I’m not going to be sitting here waiting for a label to pay me. I’m on a label and I’m doing it independently.
And let me clear this up. I didn’t get dropped. That was my choice to leave. When this cat told me how the industry works, I was like, ‘Man, I would rather be out of this.’ And MCA, they wanted to drop the ball anyway. That was a company. They don’t have feelings. That was a corporation. They’re a machine. They get their feelings from a computer. Their emotions are gigabytes. They don’t have no emotions. They’re corporate machine-type cats. They’re just looking for the money, man. They’re looking for whoever’s on top. But I’m on top of what we’re doing.
It sounds like you would rather have creative control instead of a bigger marketing budget.
Exactly! Exactly! That’s the thing that I appreciate about Good Hands. I mean, we ain’t in all the stores right away, but trust me, we’ll be in the stores. Cats are looking and my MySpace page is loaded. Look at my videos that get 40,000 and 20,000 hits. So somebody out there is really feeling it. But I’m not surprised when the media tries to stop me. You’re supposed to try and stop me. Look at me. I’m making songs like “Redemption” and “What Profits a Man”. Of course you’re going to try to stop me. I’m a general and as a general, you have to take your position. I’m not going to abandon ship, but when a ship goes down, a good captain goes down with his ship. I’m not going to cry about anything and I’m going to always be here.
What inspired you to write “Hood Nurseries”, a song talking equating drug dealing to a children’s game?
I did that song a long time ago, even before The Offering. That song, that beat just reminded me of something different. I wanted to make something dark and make it anti-criminal. I just came up with that. I could have got my son to get on there again. He was on The Offering. He’s into stuff right now and his shit is sounding hot. I just did it myself.
How much has your son Zahriayah been recording?
He’s been recording. He’s been recording. He’s been writing. He has some fire, man. You’re going to hear some more stuff from him. He’s got some fire.
How important has DJ Woool been to your career?
Oh, DJ Woool is great. DJ Woool is a great dude, man. A lot of these dumb dudes try to lynch him. DJ Woool is real cool, man. He’s been making beats with Prodigal Sunn. He’s been in the camp with 12 O’Clock and Brooklyn Zu. He’s been around RZA a couple of times. He’s a cool dude. He’s definitely a cool dude. What we’ll do is I’ll go to his crib and we’ll just be working 24-7. He’ll have his trees and they’re rolled up. We have the plan and he’s got the animals there. We’re going to do a ‘hood animal showroom. We got exotic animals from all over. It’s crazy! I go over there and we got tarantulas and all of that and we make our songs.
What should we expect on Behind the Stained Glass?
Oh, that’s crazy! It’s done, man. Part 2 is out of here. It’s phenomenal, man. I hooked up with Linx. That was dope. I linked up with Calysto and Woool. Calysto is on there. DJ Khalid is on there. That’s going to be fun. (laughs) It’s going to be fun to see the reactions. I just can’t wait to see the reactions and whatever. That’s some stuff. Behind the Stained Glass is done. I got mixtapes and I got leakers coming.
I know you have a ton of different projects in the works, from a joint album with Chief Kamachi to The Almighty, and instead of asking you about each one individually, can you give us a rundown of everything?
The Chief Kamachi album is dope. I knew that was going to be dope because Chief Kamachi is fire. The Swashbucklers album I did is dope too. I did that in six days. That’s fire. I don’t know. I got stuff coming. The G-Ciples, I’m working on that. That’s hot. But yo, I want to get this Maccabeez going too. Anything that I started I eventually want to finish. Certain things happen but I want to get everything finished. I do. I really, really, really want to hurry up and get everything finished.
You originally wanted to release Behind the Stained Glass as a two-disc album. Are you glad you held back on that?
Yeah. Uh huh. That’s peace, man. If you don’t have Behind the Stained Glass, you gotta go get it. Those are some real stories, man.
Will we hear you and GZA do any new songs together?
Yeah. GZA’s going to be out here in a couple of days and we’re going to start working. It just takes time. Me and him are going to get in the studio and we’re going to do something. Timing is everything.
I know you have to go shoot the video now. What’s the view like from where you’re standing?
I’m looking right across the ocean and it’s like a marble. It’s like a beautiful marble. The ocean looks turquoise right now. It looks like turquoise right now and the wind is blowing and I’m up here. I’m enjoying myself. We have a new scene to do. We already shot a crazy scene. The team is here and we got some food coming.