EXCLUSIVE: Masta Killa Talks Upcoming Solo Project + Wu-Tang’s “A Better Tomorrow” & “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” LPs
Wu-Tang Clan member Masta Killa is headed overseas this week for the B&E Invitational freeski competition. Audio company Boombotix is hosting the event’s Halftime Show featuring a performance from Killa. The entire B&E will stream live this Friday from Les Arcs, France.
This is not the first time Boombotix has partnered with the Wu. The iconic Hip Hop group reunited in 2014 for their sixth studio album A Better Tomorrow, and 3000 limited edition portable Boombotix speakers came pre-loaded with the project.
AllHipHop.com spoke with Masta Killa about becoming part of this year’s B&E Invitational. In part one of an exclusive interview, the Brooklyn born emcee also discussed Wu-Tang Clan’s reunion LP A Better Tomorrow, the secretive one-of-a-kind Once Upon A Time In Shaolin compilation, and his next solo project.
[ALSO READ: Possible Commercial Release Date For Wu-Tang Clan’s Secret Album “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin” Revealed]
How did your performance at this year’s B&E Invitational come together?
There was this Olympic skier [Henrik Harlaut] who was a fan of Wu-Tang. He was at a ski event, and he mentioned, “Wu-Tang is for the children.” Then I had the opportunity to meet with him.
It was mind-blowing to meet with someone in that sport. You meet basketball players, football players, baseball players, and boxers all day, but an Olympic skier - that was another thing for me. To be a part of his movement was a blessing and an honor. That’s how it all came about.
You’re set to perform new songs at the event. Does that mean you have another album on the way?
Yeah, I do. Right now I’m in the process of putting out Loyalty Is Royalty. That’s a project that I’ve had for a little while. This is a project I think the Hip Hop community can appreciate. Timing is everything when you deliver something, and I think right now the climate in Hip Hop will make it a well appreciated piece of art.
The last Wu-Tang album, A Better Tomorrow, was released in collaboration with Boombotix. Your B&E Invitational event is being hosted by the company. Will your next album be released in a special Boombotix edition like the Wu album?
I haven’t decided that yet. I don’t really mix the creativity with the politics of how I might do it. Right now I’m just in the creative state of it.
Can you talk about some of the producers and artists that you’ve worked with that may make the final project?
So far, you’ll hear Wu-Tang Clan features, of course. I don’t think anyone has heard me and Redman on something. You might have heard Meth and Red, but I don’t know if anyone’s heard me and Red. You got Prodigy from Mobb Deep. Like I said, it’s still in the creative state.
How was that experience reconnecting for A Better Tomorrow, the first Wu project in seven years?
Very interesting [laughs]. I think everyone, in their hearts, wanted to come together and actually make something happen. I think we all had different views on what that should have been. I love A Better Tomorrow, but I think if we were all more in sync it could have been much more as far as the participation on the project.
I know RZA had been working on it for a while. He said in an interview that tracks were being emailed back and forth, but he didn’t like doing it that way. So he was trying to get everyone in the studio, but the logistics of it became difficult. Do think that was part of the chemistry issue?
That definitely plays part in the chemistry of how it’s being brought together. You might have a producer that might feel how s**t should be, then you might have someone filming a movie where in his mind frame he’s handling his business. Those little things and those little tweaks sometimes are the difference.
What are your thoughts on the other Wu-Tang project Once Upon A Time In Shaolin?
I can tell you I know I’m on at least four songs on that particular project. I haven’t actually heard the whole project, nor have I heard the completion of the songs I’m on [laughs]. I can tell you the songs that I am on - from what I heard - I was loving everything I was hearing production wise and the subjects that we were told to write about.
That's how that project came to me. I was sent four tracks. For each track, I was given a direction. “I need two 8s. On this one I need one 16. On this one I need four 4 bars. I need this done by a certain amount of time.” That’s how I got the instruction for that project. At that time, I didn’t know this was what it would become. That’s what was asked of me, so that’s what I did. I haven’t heard anything since that time.
So when you were contacted to contribute to those particular tracks you weren’t told what project they were going to be on?
No, it wasn’t told to me it was going to be called Upon A Time In Shaolin. It was just, “I’m stopping to do this mix project with a few collaborations from the brothers.” Sometimes things come together the most peculiar ways. But once you get something together and see what you’ve got, it might become a Once Upon A Time.
Method Man said he wasn’t a fan of the idea of Once Upon A Time being held back for commercial use for 88 years. Then RZA explained why he did that. What are your thoughts on the fact most of the world probably won’t be able to hear it?
I think the only way to establish value in something is for it to be exclusive. That’s the whole point that I gathered for that particular piece of art. Music is also art, but it’s been devalued because of how it’s looked at now in the industry.
Unless you’re positioned a certain way, you’re art’s value - for everything that you pour into to make what you make - is not the real value. The compensation artists now receive for their art is basically nothing.
So the only way to establish that value is to be exclusive with something. If I’m not going to be exclusive with it, then what’s going to make this piece of art any different than any other album that you can go buy?
No one could see why we signed as a group but not sign everybody [as solo artists]. We still had our individual freedom to make other deals, but people didn’t get that at the time. Sometimes you have to stand for something and let it grow to be what it will be, and then maybe people can gravitate to it better when they see the light of it.
Do you think there is a way for the industry to recreate itself in order for artists to make money off their art?
Of course, for every lock there’s a key. It can definitely be restructured. Like I said, sometimes you have to show something and then maybe the world can gravitate to an idea to make it better. Sometimes you have to be the first to do it and shine that type of light. Hopefully, this could be something good - not just for Wu-Tang - but the music industry in itself. We have to start thinking of better ways all around the board.
The Boombotix Halftime Show with Masta Killa will stream live Friday, March 13 at 3 PM ET on inspiredmedia.tv.