AV Club.com Ghostface interview

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News Stories - GhostfaceKillah

(props to chambermusik.com)
Interviewed by Nathan Rabin
May 17th, 2006

When Wu-Tang Clan exploded onto hip-hop with 1993s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), rapper Ghostface Killah was overshadowed by the even-more-colorful likes of Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, and mastermind/super-producer RZA. Ghostfaces 1996 debut Ironman was well-received, and his numerous lyrical assists on Raekwons Only Built 4 Cuban Linx helped make it an instant classic. But Ghostface didnt fully escape his groupmates shadows until their golden age had passed. Three memorable albums followed Ironman, and Ghostface recently released the mind-bending, psychedelic Fishscale. He also recently addressed 36 questions from The A.V. Club—very, very rapidly.

The A.V. Club: Whats your favorite part of touring?

Ghostface Killah: Nothing. Just performing.

AVC: What can you say about the new album?

GK: What do you want to know about it?

AVC: What was the making of it like?

GK: It was all right. It was like any other album. You get the beats, you write to them, you go in the studio and lay it down. Hopefully a song comes out sounding good. If it comes out sounding good, you put it to the side with the rest of the other good ones, and you try to decide which ones youre gonna use on the album.

AVC: You worked with some pretty big producers on the album, like Pete Rock. Did you meet with them, or work together on the tracks?

GK: Nah. One of the guys at Def Jam would just come and give me beats, and Id just go through a bunch of beats, and that was it. I met my man MF Doom on the road, somebody gave me some beats from him, and thats how I got his beats. And that was it.

AVC: Hows the album with MF Doom going?

GK: Its going great. I gave him like, five or six songs, and Ill do more songs with him, so we can complete that album and thatll be it right there.

AVC: Is it true that you listened to hundreds or thousands of beats for The Pretty Toney Album?

GK: Yeah, because I didnt really have that many good beats coming my way. Ill do that once in a while, where Ill go through a bunch of beats, see what I want to use, what Im not gonna use. A lot of people send you garbage and you just listen to their CD for nothing. Thats it.

AVC: The Pretty Toney Album was credited to Ghostface, and Fishscale is credited to Ghostface Killah. Whats the difference?

GK: It dont even matter. Its just names. People always get it twisted, you know, "Is this the Ghostface Killah?" Man, its whatever-whatever, you can name me Shithead if you want. I dont give a fuck about all that. Its real, man. A name is a name, and I make music. My niggas know my voice even without the name. Thats what it is.

AVC: Why put the album with Doom out on Nature Sounds instead of Def Jam?

GK: I dont know. Thats Dooms album, thats not mine. Thats Dooms thing. Im just running with him, whatever you want to do. I dont care, he could put it out on Gods Records. Whatever-whatever, man. As long as its out.

AVC: Will the Wu-Tang Clan be working on an album anytime soon?

GK: Next year, sometime. We just gotta pick the months when we want to record, and itll be on.

AVC: Did you get a chance to know Jay Dee when he worked on your album?

GK: No. I havent met Jay Dee. I havent done nothing. I [just] listened to his beats. I liked them and I just wrote to them. I did it and that was it. I wished he had had a chance to hear what I did to his music.

AVC: Youve criticized the song "Laffy Taffy" in concert. Do you have something against Southern hip-hop, or just that song in particular?

GK: I dont got no problem with nobody. I was just telling people, this is what you all grew up on, this is what you all are stuck on right now, but this is what I dig, this is where I come from, right here. So I threw on "Eric B Is President." Its two different rap eras. It just happened to be that I got ahold of that record.

AVC: Who are your favorite rappers?

GK: A lot of old-school rappers. Rakim, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, Public Enemy, even NWA when they came out with their first album. Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr. All the Nice & Smooth. The whole list. It just goes on. The world was really, back then, rockin the Fat Boys, Run DMC, Special Ed. Back then, everything was cool. Steady B from Philly. It was all good. All the old school. The whole Juice Crew. Roxanne Shante, EPMD, MC Lyte.

AVC: Youve worked with a lot of great producers. Are there any that youd like to work with that you havent?

GK: Marley Marl. Probably DJ Premier. Dr. Dre here and there. Pharrell. Thats about it.

AVC: The press release for Fishscale says you stopped smoking weed two years ago. What was the thinking behind that, and how has it worked out for you so far?

GK: Nothing. Sometimes you gotta just chill. You gotta chill your thinking process. Mines just a little more clear now. But its all good. Sometimes you gotta relax some stuff youve been doing for a long time.

AVC: Do you think it affected the sound or the vibe of the new album?

GK: I dont know, because I always had the sound in me. Its more or less if I get the music in my head, I know how to get the vibe in the sound. Other than that, it is what it is.

AVC: Why do you think Bulletproof Wallets wasnt as well-received as your other albums?

GK: Because it didnt get marketed and promoted right. And I got a lot of songs tooken off of it. Thats all.

AVC: Is that part of the reason you went to Def Jam?

GK: Yeah.

AVC: Have you been happy with Def Jam so far?

GK: Yeah.

AVC: What attracted you to the character of Iron Man?

GK: I was Tony Starks [sic.] first, and then Tony Starks and the Iron Man is the same dude, so that, I guess, that could be the other side of me. That was it.

AVC: Are you into comic books?

GK: No. I just had this shirt and it was a Tony Starks shirt, and when I put it on… that was it. It just felt like, "This is what it is now."

AVC: Youre one of the few rappers who have their own talking doll. How did that come about?

GK: I dont know. Some people in California just wanted to do a doll. We agreed to do it, I told them how I wanted it, with the gold on and the robes and everything, and we made a commitment and both agreed, and the action-figure doll should be coming out soon.

AVC: What does the Ghostface Killah doll say?

GK: I cant even remember. It was saying a few things from a lot of old records. I cant really remember word for word what it was saying.

AVC: Youve been touring with M-1 from Dead Prez, whos very political. Has that influenced you at all?

GK: No. Im just me, man. You know what I mean? What Dead Prez is saying, I already know, and Im for the cause. If you hear more from him than me, thats just what it is, but at the same time, I understand everything the brothers are saying, and Im for the same cause that they stand for.

AVC: A lot of rappers are acting these days. Would you like to do some acting?

GK: Pretty soon, if God allows me to. Then Ill be good.

AVC: What do you think is the biggest problem with hip-hop today?

GK: A lack of originality, thats it. Everybodys coming out the same.

AVC: Do you think thats changing? Is there anyone coming along right now that youre excited about?

GK: No, fuck hip-hop. I aint feeling that shit right now. I dont even listen to hip-hop. I just do this shit because I gotta feed my family.

AVC: What do you listen to?

GK: I listen to shit. I listen to old music, man.

AVC: Like soul music?

GK: Yeah, soul music.

AVC: Who are some of your favorite soul artists?

GK: [No answer.]

AVC: You were one of the first Wu-Tang Clan members to work with a producer other than RZA. How did that come about?

GK: Nothing, man. You gotta do what you gotta do. RZA dont gotta be making my beats all day. You gotta fuck around, spread your wings. RZA got fuckin too many artists to put out on his own. I aint gotta use him every time I make an album and shit. Yo, any good beats will do. There are mad people out there with good beats. Thats like saying that you gotta fuck the same bitch all day. Theres mad bitches outside, mad pussy out there, thats better than the pussy that you got. Cmon!

AVC: So variety is the spice of life?

GK: Yeah.

AVC: Whats your writing process like?

GK: It aint nothin, give me some good music, give me some peace of mind, somewhere its quiet and decent, and thats it. Im ready to write.

AVC: You just need some concentration?

GK: Yeah, and a clean place or whatever. Thats it.

AVC: Why do you think the public responded to Wu-Tang Clan the way it did?

GK: We were just different. When we came in the game, we were different. Niggas never heard us before. So anything thats new that you never heard before, a lot of the times it gives the people a new vibe, a new rhythm, like all this South shit coming in right now. They love it cause theyve never heard it before. Thats all it is.

AVC: What was your life like before Wu-Tang Clan?

GK: I dont know. I was just like any other street nigga. I was robbing niggas, knocking niggas out, shooting niggas. Thats how it was before Wu-Tang Clan. Ill do it again if I got to.

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