It'sprobably safe to say that the Wu-Tang Clan, sans actual instruments (a la The Roots), is the only group in Hip-Hops history to really come across as an actual band. Yeah, a band. Remember those? I know, you thought those were just for Rock & Rollers. Each member plays his respective role and serves as a piece of a collective unit. During the Wus rise to prominence in the mid 90s, it was obvious who the bands lead artists were. The beautiful thing about the Wu, and clearly an indication of just how powerful their movement and music was, is that even the artists who fans ultimately pigeonholed into supporting roles eventually got their chance to make their mark individually.
In October of 1999, U-God dropped his heavily anticipated solo debut, Golden Arms Redemption, and the album went on to perform respectably. But with two more Wu albums, and a slew of solo releases from the other members cutting into his face time, itd be practically five years until he resurfaced, this time independently with U-Godzilla Presents: The Hillside Scramblers. The project was U-Gods attempt to spread the word about some of the young gunners from his hometown Park Hill Projects, and while it was well received among fans still dwelling in the 36 chambers, it did little to bolster his appeal among mainstream Hip-Hop consumers and critics. The same could be said for his 2005 LP Mr. Excitement. All in all, U-God knows and admits that he hasnt yet reached his full potential, and while hes hardly one to disclose many details about his upcoming plans, he definitely knows where his mistakes were made. As Wu-Tang Week progresses, we spoke to Golden Arms about the past, the indie grind, and why his quest for redemption continues.
AllHipHop.com: In Hip-Hop its always about whats new and whats fresh. You just got off tour and it was crazy What do you think it is that allows you 13 years after your introduction, and not being a new group, to still come in and really sell out shows and have fans all over the place?
U-God: Well, thats from putting in a lot of work through the years. Our catalog is humongous. We got one of the biggest catalogs in the mothaf**kin industry besides Sugar Hill [Records]. You see a lot of dudes poppin off right now, new dudes and all, that but the amount of work we done put in is incredible, man, and those albums still sell and people still come out and still wanna see the old s**t. Its like A Tribe Called Quest. A Tribe Called Quest aint been out in like six or seven years and right now their filling up 3500-seaters. Just because you dont hear them on the radio dont mean that they aint poppin! People dont realize the game, man; the game is deeper than that. If you put in your stones and your bricks for years, youre gonna have a fan base. Its like Metallica. Dudes are like the Rolling Stones. So, all we gotta do is drop a new album or drop some new songs and we can go right back out there and go on tour again.
AllHipHop.com: We have a lot of camps out now claiming their a movement. The Wu truly was and is a movement. Why do these other crews movements feel so fabricated in comparison?
U-God: Well, they feel like they wanna be us because we aint around. We aint doin nothing. We aint doin nothing thats really stickin to dudes ribs like that right now. So, they feel like they can come out! Before, if you wanted to be like somebody, you was a biter. You was a wack n***a. But right now, that seems to be the style. Monkey see, monkey do. Dudes right now cant even compare to being the Wu. First of all, if you wanna be the mothaf**kin Wu, your first album gotta go four to five million [units sold]. Second, you gotta drop three, four, five more consecutive platinum albums and get a Grammy on one of those mothaf**kin joints, like Meth did! So, in order for you to be Wu-Tang, thats the kinda s**t you gotta put up, those type of numbers, those type of things you gotta do.
AllHipHop.com: You were locked up for most of 36 Chambers and came out and you were able to hop on the two songs
U-God: Yeah, Protect Ya Neck and the Mystery of Chess Boxing.
AllHipHop.com: Looking back on the situation you had came out of, do you ever bug out off the fact that you ended up being a character in a video game and that youd be in a comic book and all this other crazy stuff?
U-God: Right now, the amount of work we put in I would never think it would get to this level. None of us ever thought it would get to this level. We did what we did when we were 21. We were still like in our twenties when we got our platinum album and a lot of cats aint achieved that even in their old age. So, we was kinda before our time so when we did get out in the world, s**t was crazy. But hell no, I would never think it was gonna get to a level to the spot Im on right now, because I only got two joints off and I had to go do my lil time out, but when I came home, I had to get back in shape.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned a new Wu Album. After doing a couple Wu albums, what do you think the experience would be like going in and recording and what kind of new topics and sounds can you explore being that this will be like album number five for the Wu?
U-God: I aint gonna say nothing about none of that s**t because I dont give away my mothaf**kin hat tricks and my lil tricks in the trade. But more or less, I can say that theres a lot of things to talk about. Whats going on? A lot of books out there that dudes aint up on, lot of knowledge, Illuminati s**t is still in effect, Enron, scams that people doin A lot to talk about, a lot of s**t goin on: murder, death, kill, booze, drugs, tattoos, a lot of violence out there. So, I cant really say what the chemistry, what the formula gonna be because everybody done took from my formula already, like down to the bone. So, we cant really come back with that old type of formula unless you come with some crazy come hard and thats basically how I like to come. I wanna come hard, hard, hardcore with some good hooks with some good beats. Take your time in there and put it together like how we used to do it! Thats all a process and lot of people dont know what it takes for a nine-man group to make that process happen. Cause you got nine ill MCs who feel they should be number one! So, we got to humble ourselves again and get up in there and bake a nice cake.
AllHipHop.com: At this point, how motivated would you say you are to doing a Wu album?
U-God: Im with it, as soon as n***as give me the red light like its real like that. Im in there like Im doin what I gotta do. Right now, Im out here working on my s**t, so I aint waitin for nobody. Im still doing me at the same time. Im just trying get some better production goin on, get some nice beats some real chunky s**t. Im out here searching for some diamonds.
AllHipHop.com: What type of sound is it that, when you say you looking for diamonds?
U-God: I cant explain it to you, bro, its just gotta be heavy and big and thats all I can tell you.
AllHipHop.com: Do you ever think it makes more sense for the Wu-Tang Clan to do an independent album as a group than actually go through a label?
U-God: This independent s**t is way more complicated than what you think. You gotta get in those programs and they gotta be serious business. Personally, Im getting back into a major. I aint playin, Im goin back to a major. Im getting back up on the diving board cause thats where you makin money. Aint nothing wrong with being on a major. Oh, everybodys always talkin about a major, B, thats a myth. A major takes care of you, you sell records, you get taken cared of. Your s**t flopped, you dont get taken care of, its business, man. Its like I was playin for the majors and I got wounded or something and now Im in the minors and s**t, playing independent games.
Now, I gotta make my way back into the f**kin majors by hittin my own best independently. So, now when you get back to the majors you gotta come back with Reggie Jackson numbers, you gotta start hittin home runs. Thats what they respect. Make some s**t that make n***as hair stand up and theres no way around that. Look at E-40, E-40 was an independent for awhile too, he couldnt take it no more. He said I gotta get back to the basics. Gotta get back to the majors and look at a n***a.
Allhiphop: With the way Hip-Hop is right now, coming back as a collective, do you go ahead and come in swinging swords or do you take it in a different direction?
U-God: Right now, I aint telling nobody how Im comin, man. I just do what I do. Just be surprised, I got s**t up my sleeve. Im always doin some new s**t. Im out here right now f**kin with dudes. Im here in L.A., Im not just doin Hip-Hop, I write R&B I do all types of s**t and its just who Im around that could bring the situation now. I can go anywhere and make songs with all type of dudes. Like yesterday, I was with Motor Head and Foo-Fighters just chillin, drinkin and s**t. Im coming hard and I come out how I wanna come out right now. Im content with my s**t. I dont give a f**k if it only sell 3,000 or 4,000 mothaf**kin copies. I know 5,000 n***as copped the s**t, cool. Im basically startin all over again, really. We start a solo career; everybody always identifies me with Wu-Tang. Yeah, Im great with my crew because I already accomplished that, but as far as my solo career, I have not popped off solo. The only thing thats good about it is I got a toenail in the door. [Laughs]