Excitement" is finally out. How does that feel?
other project. Failures and successes don't matter to me anymore. I'm
just putting out music right now because I like putting out music.
your state of mind recording "Mr. Excitement?"
different, entertaining. That's what "Mr. Excitement" stands
a lot of different topics on "Mr. Excitement," what did you
want to give the listener?
man. More versatility. I'm adventurous, I'm entertaining. I just wanted
to entertain. The entertaining element of Hip Hop is going down the tubes.
That's who Mr. Excitement is, he's an entertainer.
like "Get Down" have heavy West Coast influences, how did that
I was on
the West Coast when I recorded that song. People that don't know me think
I'm a New York dude. They don't realize that I've traveled around the
world. I've heard different state's music. In every state, there's different
music that people listen to. D.C. has Gogo, Down South is the bounce,
and Texas has Screw
I just kind of mixed it up and put a little of
everything on here. I made it universal.
feel like some tracks on here will catch some Wu fans off-guard?
I don't know.
My whole shit is, I don't even know who my fans are. I really don't. I've
always been the black sheep of the family so I never know who fucking
liked me anyway. I don't care. I don't know who loves me. I can't calculate
that, so I'm not catering to nobody. I'm just catering to the markets
I know I got people in.
out of New York beneficial for you?
It always is. New York is just a bunch of people trying to be stars when
they're really not. People have positions of power and they take advantage
of that shit and try to crush the little man. It's all about money up
here. I like going other places where I don't have to kiss ass. I'm not
no ass-kissing dude.
you feel that you're the black sheep of the Wu?
the light-skinned dude in the group.
That stems from slavery man. The light-skinned ones were always the ones
closest to the master. The field negros hated him more. It stems from
a long time ago. I get prejudiced against by white people and my own people
for being light-skinned. They think we get every fucking thing.
Yeah, I would
what is the reason that the Wu seems separated?
The Wu is
not separated. Everybody just wants to build their own shit. We built
RZA's shit. We're the ones that built RZA. RZA acts like he built us.
We built each other. It's crazy. I can't put my finger on one situation.
All I can tell you is there's money
I can tell you when dudes didn't
have shit, those were the good times. Once we got money, you start seeing
different people. People turn into kings and get this dictator shit going
on in their head. That goes for any group, Cash Money, Bad Boy, Rocafella.
It's not just us. I'm probably the only one that's talking about it. I'm
probably the only one that's willing to bring it to the table, but I'm
pretty sure that everyone else is going through that shit too.
you respond to critics saying "U-God is the weakest link in the Wu?"
you see that?
RZA putting out that corny propaganda shit. That was propaganda. Go pick
up "Mr. Excitement" and go pick up "Bobby Digital,"
and you choose. Back then, I had just come back from doing two years in
prison. I went to jail for taking care of niggas on the block. If it wasn't
for me, them dudes wouldn't be living. RZA knows I'm that dude that hit
him with a half-a-brick in 1988 and put him on his feet. Dudes talking
about I'm a weak link? I'm a weak link? It was RZA that said I'm a weak
link. You can't point out where weak links are, everything is circular
and things change. Some niggas get stronger, then get weak, others are
late-bloomers. You can't say I'm a weak link. I'll tear a niggas head
off now. I'm in tip-top shape. Dudes can't fuck with me. You could say
that three years ago when I came out of the penitentiary that I was a
weak link because I was trying to find myself and fit in a nine-man group.
In the beginning, yeah, I probably was weak. But now, I will tear RZA's
ass up. He can't fuck with me. I don't care what anybody says.
talk about your inspiration for "Drugs"?
about my man that died. He was a drug addict. I can identify with drug
addicts because I grew up around drugs my whole life. In the ghetto, that
was the culture at one time. That's about my man that died who brought
me a lot of money on the block when I was hustling. When I heard that
he died, I made this song from him. His famous quote was "I don't
love the drugs, the drugs love me."
Burke is on the album twice, who is she?
I just met
her in L.A. I got introduced to her through Prodigal. She came in, and
I had "Carry On" playing. I had already written the hook. I
told her I wanted it to sing it this way, she went in there, and sung
the words exactly how I wanted. Then I put her on "Long Time Ago,"
and she murdered that too. She's nice. She can do her damn thing. She
just has to learn how to be an entertainer now. It takes some people some
time to get confidence and come into yourself. It took me a long time
too. Now that I'm older, I see shit for what it's worth and what it is.
does someone like yourself with more experience have over the youth?
They don't got nothing to talk about. They haven't lived anything. These
little kids write dream raps. They talk about the shit they wish they
did. I rhyme about a lot of the stuff I went through. That's why I call
myself a late-bloomer. I study music, and in that process, you learn what
the great ones before us did. You try to see their formula while bettering
your formula. For the youth out there, they don't have any substance.
Everyone's trying to follow 50. They can't do themselves. That's the mind-state
they need. If they don't do that, they're a follower. They start to sound
like Jay-Z, Eminem, or someone else. There's already a Jay-Z and Eminem,
so you have to bring your style and bring some substance to the table.
Your words have to have meaning and emotions. That's one thing about Wu-Tang,
we've always been lyricists. Some of us have gotten better, some of us
have gotten worse. I'm trying to be universal and write songs that everyone
can relate to. When you listen to me, you can say "damn, I was feeling
the same way." The "Drugs" song sounds like a nigga on
drugs! I'm pretty sure, watch, you'll see dudes pop up out of nowhere
with some drug songs and try to write a piece like that and take it for
thing dudes are doing. They're biting. They don't come up with nothing
on their own, and they try to smother whoever's winning. That shit is
corny. Nobody has their own style. Look at Mike Jones, now everyone is
doing those two-hook joints. Dudes that's in power are really taking advantage
of this and aren't doing nothing with it. Really, the whole Hip Hop nation
took Wu-Tang's formula. They took our formula and ran with it. Now that
the formula is old and tired, they don't know what to do. Now they're
stuck. Here we are in 2005 and they don't know what to rhyme about anymore.
You can only rhyme about drugs for so long.
you blame for Hip Hop being this way?
I blame the
radio and the fucking DJ's for fucking Hip Hop up the way it is right
now. It's a power control thing. Radio is a very powerful took and dudes
are taking it for granted. Look at New York right now. You don't hear
no more New York artists in New York anymore. You know why? Because niggas
in New York can't stand the DJ's and the DJ's can't stand us, so they
play out-of-town music to get the niggas twisted. We was the trend-setters
once and now we're the followers, and that's because the fucking radio
is brainwashing us. It's twisted right now. Everyone is trying to keep
their little labels and they're putting out a lot of fucked up shit.
I'm hearing that Jay-Z and Puffy are trying to buy the Source. If they
get their hands on that, it's going to be corrupt. It's going to be all
Def Jam artists and all Bad Boy artists. For real, that means the game
is over. It's going to have to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt again.
It's on its way down dog. It's not making the impact it was a few years
ago. When we was blowing up, Biggie was blowing, Mobb Deep was blowing.
Now, you only have one dude out there, and that's 50. The other marketing
out there is dry. Rap is getting uglier. It's sounding mad ugly.
see it getting better?
to get worse. Right now, I see a lot of labels collapsing, a lot of labels
running out of money, and just not being majors anymore. Another group
of labels is going to come up. Rap is under reconstruction right now.
Shit is wack right now. The only reason 50 is winning is because he has
the nice, well-oiled machine behind him. If we still had Loud, we'd be
giving the nigga a run for his money right now.
Wu-Tang be on top of the game right now?
no top of the game. What makes us so ill right now is that we've been
on top, and we've been at the bottom-bottom. You have to survive on the
bottom like you survive on the top. A lot of the dudes probably wouldn't
be able to make it if they were to get dropped tomorrow. No matter what,
we've managed to stay out there. That "on top" shit, that's
an illusion. This is just music man.
Cent) is making it personal because he has gripes when dudes shitted on
him when he was trying to get on. He's trying to make everything personal.
That's all propaganda. The nigga is rich. I don't know why the fuck he's
all mad for. I don't know why he's trying to stunt on niggas like that.
Leave it alone man! He's got his own little arrogant style and pet peeves,
and that's what keeps him bopping.
be up top and slip to the bottom of the earth next year. If we come back
with a dope-ass album, and niggas get on our meat again, it ain't going
to be like that for us. It's not that we're back on top, we never went
anywhere. If people could see what's going on in the inside, they'd be
like "damn, this shit is fucked up." They look at it on the
TV or the radio, and that's all they see. I even got people in my own
hood who try to shit on us because they think we're down and out right
now. It's funny because you see who your true friends are and the fake
know that we go out to Europe and make $300,000 a show. Niggas don't fucking
know about all that shit. We're the Rolling Stones of this shit. The only
group that can do it like that. We're the only group that's still around.
And we're all in different places, but after Dirty died, God bless the
dead, we're the only super-group still around. Bad Boy's gone. Cash Money's
gone. Rocafella's gone. We're the only dudes around. When we come back,
it's going to hurt (laughs) It's going to hurt! We're the original Hip
Hop fam, everyone else is fabricated.
think Dip Set learned a lot from watching Wu-Tang?
inspired by us. Even Kanye West said he was inspired by RZA. We never
fell off. We can still go out and get shows. We can still go out and pack
arenas. We can still make two or three million dollars a year together.
All we have to do is come back together, and y'all niggas is grits. Our
problem is that we have to settle some issues before we come back together,
and that's what's taking us so long.
back to the album, how was it working on "It's a Wrap" with
Letha Face from Hillside Scramblers?
is my man. It's like Batman and Robin. When we come together, it's a different
story. We're off the meat-rack! He's the illest nigga on Staten Island.
He's nice on the beats, but I don't know how his work ethic is, so I have
to step back and do me. Some people liked their album, some didn't. I
don't care what you think. Everybody ain't going to like me. Everybody
ain't going to like the Wu. That's one thing that you have to admit to
yourself. You can't get everybody to like you. If you could, you'd be
a bad motherfucker.
going on with everyone else from Hillside Scramblers?
my peoples from the projects. I tried to give them a shot and a chance
to do their damn thing. What happened with those dudes is they don't have
no money and they think I'm supposed to give them money for every fucking
thing they do. That's not the case. I got babies to take care of. I don't
need no 35-year-old or 27-year-old babies coming to me for money or "can
you pick me up?" When we were first coming up in Wu-tang, we had
to get there ourselves and we had to come out of our own pockets with
money. If dudes can't show initiative, I can't work with them.
you think Don King chose your tracks to be featured on his boxing specials?
is my peoples. Let me tell you some real shit about me. I don't ever talk
about the people I know or the people I associate with. Why? Because I
hate people going "oh I know that nigga too!" I hate people
trying to tell me who they're associated with. I'm not even going to tell
you how I got my shit up there because then a hundred-million other niggas
are going to run up and try to do the same shit I do. Let me put it to
you this way: I know a lot of people. I know Oscar-Award winning actresses.
I know a lot of motherfuckers.
want to get into other forms of writing?
put me down for everything. I don't like telling what I'm going to do
because I always got somebody in my fucking crew or out in this fucking
world that wants to beat me to the punch. Don't do it because I want to
do it. Do it because you got some type of art form that you want to capitalize
on. Niggas be doing this shit just to say they did it. That's what I don't
like about corny motherfuckers. Say I go out and get a distribution deal,
then someone else comes out with one saying "I got my own distribution
deal." You ain't doing it because you want to get in the business
of making records and getting into the industry. I hate that corny shit.
That's why I don't do music to be competitive. I do music from my soul
about the shit I'm going through. I used to have a different reason why
I rhymed five, six years ago. If you listen to my rhymes, I was trying
to have the best darts, the best eight or 16 bars. I wasn't worried about
hooks or songs. Then I got hit in the head with some artsy-fartsy shit
and it just totally hit me in the head. I don't know the types of chords,
but I can definitely play something out and make it sound good. That's
one thing I learned how to do, and I love this shit. I love doing music
man. I want to tell people, I'm not just a rapper. I can write R&B
music, I can write country music. I can do a lot of types of music that
people don't know I'm capable of doing. That's why I wrote "Jenny,"
just to let you know. If I had someone singing on that shit, it would
have been totally different. I can write R&B. I can write country.
It's basically the same shit with rap.
I wrote everything
on "Mr. Excitement." Me and Letha Face team up and we do our
thing. That's the only dog I fuck with. We do the damn thing, and that's
what it is. Everyone else can kiss my black ass. I'm not with that ghetto-to-ghetto
shit. I'm just trying to get it popping. It feels like I'm a new artist.
I'm trying to get my whole career popping again. I'll start from scratch
all over again.
that classic Wu-Tang sound with the dusty samples and the hard drums.
Do you ever feel trapped in that?
situation. When I do my solo albums, I'm adventurous. RZA is his own dude.
He's going to be the one at the end of the day that makes the final decisions.
I always tell him that he has shit closed up in a cage. Rap music is so
big now. You can come with those dusty samples, but everybody's doing
it. That shit doesn't seem special to me. I can give you an album like
that if that's what the people want. I can do that shit so fucking easy
that it's crazy. It's nothing. But then you have to get sample clearances.
Once you cut into sample clearances, you start cutting into publishing.
Then your money gets shorter.
of sample clearances, I heard you had a lot of songs that couldn't get
If I could
have cleared everything I had, you would have heard an entirely different
album. A lot of that shit on the album right now probably wouldn't have
made it. I recorded over 100 songs. Out of those 100 songs, I had to pick
all of the songs that I loved with samples on it and take them off. The
sample dudes were taking too long coming back to me about the publishing.
Some samples were owned by three different publishing companies. Shit
was going crazy. What I did was, I came up with this album. I listened
to the beats on this album, the beats are still hot. I know hot music.
Just because it didn't come from Kanye or Dre, I know it's still hot.
I put my shit on the big speakers and it still thumps and there's no pops
in it. Everything is raw.
you compare "Mr. Excitement" to "Redemption?"
even compare it. The funny shit about that is I was listening to "Redemption"
the other day. That shit is hard! Let me tell you some real shit about
when I was recording "Redemption:" I was scared. I was still
learning myself. I wasn't really confident in myself yet. Not like the
way I am now. I'm more confident musically now than I've ever been in
my life. Being that "Redemption" was on Priority, I was able
to get more samples cleared. That's the reason why it came out so much
harder and grittier. That's what I'm trying to work back to, where I can
get my samples cleared. I got some fire! I still got fire. I got enough
for at least three more albums, and I keep recording more new shit. Hopefully
I can get some music from RZA one day so me and him can make some joints.
you think it's going to take to squash that?
to tell me what to fucking do, and stop trying to act like you can crush
me as a fucking man. I'm a grown-ass man. You can't crush me. I've been
through too much shit to get crushed.
next for you?
up another album in the next couple months. Independent is an expedient
spot. You can keep putting albums out and keep it popping.
you want to say to everybody out there reading this?
for all the support for what we did and for all the years of supporting
us and loving us still. All the fans that stayed with us even in our fucked
up times. We will be back.