Sunday, 20 October 2013


Despite having only one verse on the world-alteringly brilliant debut Wu-Tang Clan album (he was in jail for most of the recording), U-God quickly cemented himself as a solid member of the Staten Island nine-piece with four solo albums since 1999, tracks across all subsequent Wu-Tang albums and guest appearances on records by just about every one of his Wu-Tang associates. From his initial pre-Wu friendships with RZA, Ghostface and Cappadonna through to his son being shot, his incarceration, his own record label his and turbulent time as a Wu solo artist; U-God is planning to document his life in an autobiography. In the meantime, his new album, Keynote Speaker, is out now on Soul Temple Records.

Do you ever visit Park Hills?
Nah, I don't visit the place man. For what? I used to go back there, try to show love to people, try to help people out, and they try to chop you up into a million pieces. There's no reason for me to go back there.

You records are pretty different from other Wu-Tang solo records. They each seem to reference different parts of the Wu that nobody else does.
I got my style of music. People either gonna like my style of music or they ain't gonna like my style of music. I'm trying to grow, and at the same time keep the original fans, you know what I'm saying? Every time I put out a record I figure out what people want more of from me. I'm also trying to give you a creative aspect, without being like anybody else. I don't know if people respect originality any more, but I'm still trying to keep that originality there as well. If people don't think it sounds like a Wu-Tang Clan album, well it does to me. It's just a 2013 type of Wu-Tang thing. People in the US are liking it, but some people don't like it. But hey. You can't please everybody. 

When did you realise the tracks you had were turning into an album?
I do a lot of work, and I picked the best of my work, that meshed together. I do more than what a lot of folks do, and I picked the best of what I got. That's how I put it together. I can't tell you how to do it; you just gotta work, work, work, work, until you come to a complete body of work.

You've got Meth, Inspectah Deck, GZA and RZA on this album. Were those tracks you'd been working on together, or are they tracks for the album that you wanted those guys on?
When I get my tracks, when they give them to me, I know where I gotta go with them. I do what I do. When I'm with my group you're only gonna hear sixteen bars of me. You'll only hear a little bit of me on each song. I'm much bigger than that, so that's why I put out records, which are more of what I'm about. I think I did that with Keynote Speaker.

Your first album was quite late, in terms of Wu-Tang solo albums. What took you?
Because I wasn't getting attention! You got nine people in my group. I had to gather my own music, gather my own beats, and I put out my first record in 1998. My first record was a gold record. I don't know what you mean by "come out late", to me it was time to put out a record.

When does something stop being hip-hop? Like the new Kanye album, it's pretty far from what hip-hop 'is'.

Music is music. It is what it is. You as the writer and me as the artist, your job is to write what I'm saying. My job is to entertain you. With my words, with my rhythm patterns. That's my job. Your job is to sit on the sideline and critique what I'm saying and also what I'm doing. At the same time, as a musician, we're dealing with sound here. And there's different levels of sound. As a person who is a musician, I understand what he was trying to do. We go through our experimental stages as musicians. We have to experiment, it's in us. Nobody wants the same fuckin' eggs and salmon every morning. No one wants to talk to the same people every day. You want to keep new energy coming. People want to push the envelope. It's the same with me, I'm gonna give you some Wu-sounding shit, but I'm also gonna take you somewhere else too. And you gotta come with me. But certain music does touch more people than others. And as a musician, that's what your dreams are, you're trying to touch as much people as you possibly can with your music. And sometimes we go out of bounds.

Your track 'Golden Arms' on the new record is more electronic. It's a step away from what you've done before.
The crazy thing about that is that a lot of people are gravitating to that track. Some people love that shit, and some people, it's not their cup of tea. As a musician, I have to make a whole body of work that everybody can absorb. You might not like track number fifteen, but somebody else does. My desire is to get fifteen tracks that y'all can relate to. And that's kind of a hard situation. Everybody's not gonna like the blockbuster movie that comes out, everybody didn't like Batman. You know what I'm saying? Everybody's picky. If you're making a salad you gotta put things in there that people are gonna like. People might not like croutons, but they in there. Like a body of work.

But people are going to dig an electronic track, because it's on a U-God album anyway. Even if it doesn't sound like their idea of Wu.

I don't know how you compare Wu-Tang sounding records, because my record is Wu. Wu-Tang sounding records? I don't know what the hell you mean by that shit. But I know one thing for sure, you turn that record on and it's Wu-Tang right there. It's 2013. By the time I come back you might change your mind. Because people do that too. Saying something at the beginning, then when everybody start liking it, they got a change of heart all of a sudden. It is what it is. This is a Wu-Tang sounding record, it's just my version of it. You're gonna hear more music from me too. It ain't like it's just going to stop. Trust me. I'm gonna give you always good quality soundin' music. That's my job, man.

RZA is credited as being 'Executive Producer' of this record. What does that mean?
I don't know what you're talking about. Next question.

Tell me about the book you're writing then.

That's gonna be about my life story, because a lot of y'all don't even know me like that. I've been like the black sheep of the family, in the background of the fam. It's gonna be my life story. I have lived a very adventurous life. I was a very adventurous guy. It's gonna be a good ride. It's gonna be what it's gonna be.

What are you listening to right now?
I listen to everything. I listen to too much different types of music. That's why my music might sound a little more abstract than usual. I'm not biased, if it's good I'm gonna listen to it. I was listening to some Evelyn 'Champagne' King earlier. I might throw on Mr. Mister, I might throw on Journey, I might throw on Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan or Ray Charles. I'm all over the place.

What are you doing for the rest of the year?
We gotta finish this 20th Anniversary (of the first Wu-Tang album). Get that crackin'. We got that crackin' before, then we had to go on tour. Then I got like a month home, vacation for a little while. Get some air, see the babies. Take care of fam. Then it's back to work. I ain't playin'. We gotta get this music done so we can entertain y'all and do what we do best.

No comments:

Post a Comment