interviews U-God

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News Stories - U-God


"Mr. Excitement" is finally out. How does that feel?

Like any other project. Failures and successes dont matter to me anymore. Im just putting out music right now because I like putting out music.

What was your state of mind recording "Mr. Excitement?"

Just adventurous, different, entertaining. Thats what "Mr. Excitement" stands for.

You have a lot of different topics on "Mr. Excitement," what did you want to give the listener?

Just versatility, man. More versatility. Im adventurous, Im entertaining. I just wanted to entertain. The entertaining element of Hip Hop is going down the tubes. Thats who Mr. Excitement is, hes an entertainer.

Songs like "Get Down" have heavy West Coast influences, how did that come out?

I was on the West Coast when I recorded that song. People that dont know me think Im a New York dude. They dont realize that Ive traveled around the world. Ive heard different states music. In every state, theres 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.

Do you feel like some tracks on here will catch some Wu fans off-guard?

I dont know. My whole shit is, I dont even know who my fans are. I really dont. Ive always been the black sheep of the family so I never know who fucking liked me anyway. I dont care. I dont know who loves me. I cant calculate that, so Im not catering to nobody. Im just catering to the markets I know I got people in.

Was getting out of New York beneficial for you?

Of course. It always is. New York is just a bunch of people trying to be stars when theyre really not. People have positions of power and they take advantage of that shit and try to crush the little man. Its all about money up here. I like going other places where I dont have to kiss ass. Im not no ass-kissing dude.

Why do you feel that youre the black sheep of the Wu?

Because Im the light-skinned dude in the group.

Thats the reason?

Yeah man. 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.

Even in the Wu?

Yeah, I would think so.

Who or what is the reason that the Wu seems separated?

The Wu is not separated. Everybody just wants to build their own shit. We built RZAs shit. Were the ones that built RZA. RZA acts like he built us. We built each other. Its crazy. I cant put my finger on one situation. All I can tell you is theres money…I can tell you when dudes didnt 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. Its not just us. Im probably the only one thats talking about it. Im probably the only one thats willing to bring it to the table, but Im pretty sure that everyone else is going through that shit too.

How do you respond to critics saying "U-God is the weakest link in the Wu?"

Where did you see that?

In some old reviews.

That was 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 wasnt for me, them dudes wouldnt be living. RZA knows Im that dude that hit him with a half-a-brick in 1988 and put him on his feet. Dudes talking about Im a weak link? Im a weak link? It was RZA that said Im a weak link. You cant point out where weak links are, everything is circular and things change. Some niggas get stronger, then get weak, others are late-bloomers. You cant say Im a weak link. Ill tear a niggas head off now. Im in tip-top shape. Dudes cant 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 RZAs ass up. He cant fuck with me. I dont care what anybody says.

Can you talk about your inspiration for "Drugs"?

That was 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. Thats 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 dont love the drugs, the drugs love me."

Ebony 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. Shes 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 Im older, I see shit for what its worth and what it is.

What advantage does someone like yourself with more experience have over the youth?

Substance. They dont got nothing to talk about. They havent 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. Thats 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 dont have any substance. Everyones trying to follow 50. They cant do themselves. Thats the mind-state they need. If they dont do that, theyre a follower. They start to sound like Jay-Z, Eminem, or someone else. Theres 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. Thats one thing about Wu-Tang, weve always been lyricists. Some of us have gotten better, some of us have gotten worse. Im 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! Im pretty sure, watch, youll see dudes pop up out of nowhere with some drug songs and try to write a piece like that and take it for their own.

Thats another thing dudes are doing. Theyre biting. They dont come up with nothing on their own, and they try to smother whoevers winning. That shit is corny. Nobody has their own style. Look at Mike Jones, now everyone is doing those two-hook joints. Dudes thats in power are really taking advantage of this and arent doing nothing with it. Really, the whole Hip Hop nation took Wu-Tangs formula. They took our formula and ran with it. Now that the formula is old and tired, they dont know what to do. Now theyre stuck. Here we are in 2005 and they dont know what to rhyme about anymore. You can only rhyme about drugs for so long.

Who would you blame for Hip Hop being this way?

I blame the radio and the fucking DJs for fucking Hip Hop up the way it is right now. Its a power control thing. Radio is a very powerful took and dudes are taking it for granted. Look at New York right now. You dont hear no more New York artists in New York anymore. You know why? Because niggas in New York cant stand the DJs and the DJs cant stand us, so they play out-of-town music to get the niggas twisted. We was the trend-setters once and now were the followers, and thats because the fucking radio is brainwashing us. Its twisted right now. Everyone is trying to keep their little labels and theyre putting out a lot of fucked up shit.

For instance, Im hearing that Jay-Z and Puffy are trying to buy the Source. If they get their hands on that, its going to be corrupt. Its going to be all Def Jam artists and all Bad Boy artists. For real, that means the game is over. Its going to have to be destroyed in order to be rebuilt again. Its on its way down dog. Its 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 thats 50. The other marketing out there is dry. Rap is getting uglier. Its sounding mad ugly.

Do you see it getting better?

Its going 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, wed be giving the nigga a run for his money right now.

Should Wu-Tang be on top of the game right now?

There is no top of the game. What makes us so ill right now is that weve been on top, and weve been at the bottom-bottom. You have to survive on the bottom like you survive on the top. A lot of the dudes probably wouldnt be able to make it if they were to get dropped tomorrow. No matter what, weve managed to stay out there. That "on top" shit, thats an illusion. This is just music man.

Dude (50 Cent) is making it personal because he has gripes when dudes shitted on him when he was trying to get on. Hes trying to make everything personal. Thats all propaganda. The nigga is rich. I dont know why the fuck hes all mad for. I dont know why hes trying to stunt on niggas like that. Leave it alone man! Hes got his own little arrogant style and pet peeves, and thats what keeps him bopping.

You could 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 aint going to be like that for us. Its not that were back on top, we never went anywhere. If people could see whats going on in the inside, theyd be like "damn, this shit is fucked up." They look at it on the TV or the radio, and thats all they see. I even got people in my own hood who try to shit on us because they think were down and out right now. Its funny because you see who your true friends are and the fake motherfuckers.

They dont know that we go out to Europe and make $300,000 a show. Niggas dont fucking know about all that shit. Were the Rolling Stones of this shit. The only group that can do it like that. Were the only group thats still around. And were all in different places, but after Dirty died, God bless the dead, were the only super-group still around. Bad Boys gone. Cash Moneys gone. Rocafellas gone. Were the only dudes around. When we come back, its going to hurt (laughs) Its going to hurt! Were the original Hip Hop fam, everyone else is fabricated.

Do you think Dip Set learned a lot from watching Wu-Tang?

They were 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 yall niggas is grits. Our problem is that we have to settle some issues before we come back together, and thats whats taking us so long.

Going back to the album, how was it working on "Its a Wrap" with Letha Face from Hillside Scramblers?

Letha Face is my man. Its like Batman and Robin. When we come together, its a different story. Were off the meat-rack! Hes the illest nigga on Staten Island. Hes nice on the beats, but I dont know how his work ethic is, so I have to step back and do me. Some people liked their album, some didnt. I dont care what you think. Everybody aint going to like me. Everybody aint going to like the Wu. Thats one thing that you have to admit to yourself. You cant get everybody to like you. If you could, youd be a bad motherfucker.

Whats going on with everyone else from Hillside Scramblers?

Those are 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 dont have no money and they think Im supposed to give them money for every fucking thing they do. Thats not the case. I got babies to take care of. I dont 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 cant show initiative, I cant work with them.

Why do you think Don King chose your tracks to be featured on his boxing specials?

Don King is my peoples. Let me tell you some real shit about me. I dont 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 theyre associated with. Im 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.

Do you want to get into other forms of writing?

Yeah, just put me down for everything. I dont like telling what Im 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. Dont 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. Thats what I dont 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 aint doing it because you want to get in the business of making records and getting into the industry. I hate that corny shit. Thats why I dont do music to be competitive. I do music from my soul about the shit Im 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 wasnt 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 dont know the types of chords, but I can definitely play something out and make it sound good. Thats one thing I learned how to do, and I love this shit. I love doing music man. I want to tell people, Im 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 dont know Im capable of doing. Thats 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. Its basically the same shit with rap.

I wrote everything on "Mr. Excitement." Me and Letha Face team up and we do our thing. Thats the only dog I fuck with. We do the damn thing, and thats what it is. Everyone else can kiss my black ass. Im not with that ghetto-to-ghetto shit. Im just trying to get it popping. It feels like Im a new artist. Im trying to get my whole career popping again. Ill start from scratch all over again.

Theres that classic Wu-Tang sound with the dusty samples and the hard drums. Do you ever feel trapped in that?

Thats the situation. When I do my solo albums, Im adventurous. RZA is his own dude. Hes 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 everybodys doing it. That shit doesnt seem special to me. I can give you an album like that if thats what the people want. I can do that shit so fucking easy that its crazy. Its 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.

Speaking of sample clearances, I heard you had a lot of songs that couldnt get cleared.

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 wouldnt 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 didnt come from Kanye or Dre, I know its still hot. I put my shit on the big speakers and it still thumps and theres no pops in it. Everything is raw.

How would you compare "Mr. Excitement" to "Redemption?"

I wouldnt 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 wasnt really confident in myself yet. Not like the way I am now. Im more confident musically now than Ive ever been in my life. Being that "Redemption" was on Priority, I was able to get more samples cleared. Thats the reason why it came out so much harder and grittier. Thats what Im 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.

What do you think its going to take to squash that?

Stop trying to tell me what to fucking do, and stop trying to act like you can crush me as a fucking man. Im a grown-ass man. You cant crush me. Ive been through too much shit to get crushed.

Whats next for you?

Ill finish up another album in the next couple months. Independent is an expedient spot. You can keep putting albums out and keep it popping.

What do you want to say to everybody out there reading this?

Thank you 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.
By Brian Kayser

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