|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2004-06-30
From Brooklyn lived in South Carolina, now resides in New Jersey. Born as Elgin Turner, reborn as Jamal Irief, the High Chief. The Masta Killa. Ninth member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Mysteriously appeared on the Wu's debut with just one verse on one track. Eleven years have passed, and the Wu has proven good on their word, having divided and conquered the industry of hiphop. RZA is on his fourth solo album and has scored a couple of films; Ghostface is blowing up the Source and Hot 97; Method Man just released his third solo album, has had a dozen acting roles and just kicked off his own sitcom with Redman. Yet the same fanatical hiphop media that created coastal rivalries and killed two of rap's biggest stars, Notorious BIG and Tupac, is trying to portray the Wu-Tang as a dead enterprise. Masta Killa releases his first solo project No Said Date with masterful timing to show and prove it is impossible to tarnish the Wu-Tang sword. 34 years old. Poet.
How long have you been rhyming? The first rhyme that I took seriously was "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" on the first album. I could always write—life experiences and things of that nature—but the art of the Wu-Tang sword flow came from the Gza. He taught me how to flow it, how to say it. He's responsible for me being within the Wu-Tang structure because that was the rhyme that qualified me. I'm only on one song, but that's because at the time I wasn't as serious as other brothers were about this rap thing. It was just a hobby to me.
That's 11 years now. What have you learned of the artist's struggle? I think when you chase things, you never really grasp them. If you stay true to your craft and build on your foundation, you will draw things to you. By sitting back in the cut, watching everything that went on around me, as far as all the trials and tribulations my brothers went through with different labels and all the headaches, it really allowed me to stay at home and take one thing at a time.
Which shows patience. Chess is an excellent teacher of patience.
What's your take on the industry? This rap game, it's a serious thing. When it turns from a hobby to a business, there's a lot more things that come into play. You're not just doing it to make the cats on the corner holler now; there are people that have money behind you. It's like a guy that goes to the park and plays basketball: He can throw it through his legs, he can just have fun with it and he might be the man in the 'hood, but when he goes to the NBA, it's a whole different game. Now he has to pass the ball around. He has to learn plays.
What inspires you in the day-to-day to create? Day to day, I'm soaking. That's knowing, looking, observing, listening and also respecting. And these are the things that come back out in different forms. There comes a time when you have to rejuvenate, regenerate, go back into self-study; it's important to always do that.
How much of music is a craft, and how much comes from within? I think everything is internal before it's external, even with life itself. It all came from the sperm cell. When a person makes a beat, it's just how he was feeling. Even from the early days of hiphop, when someone first started scratching the record, it was how he was feeling that made him spin the record back and go "Oh shit! Tcch-tch-tch-tch."
Describe the new album. First of all, this album is a Wu-Tang Clan album. Because, just like everything that came from us in the beginning, it always had all nine members involved. I did this to establish that all families go through trials and tribulations. It all depends on how you solve your problems and how you come out at the end of the day. Perfect example: One of my heroes in the Bible was Job. He was a man who had everything, then lost everything, and with just his strength and perseverance, he gained it all back 10 times greater! I said, "Man, that's the kind of motherfucker I wanna be right there!" The album took a lot of time to do, a lot of hard work. As the years go by, my work just accumulated, and I said let me experiment with this. I've rhymed on just about everybody's album. So you got eight people, and they each have two or three albums, that's a lot of building right there.
What artistic tools do you use? I use everything around me to my advantage. I use what's useful.
If this world were to shift, and money and materialism were to take a backseat to intellect and artistic expression, where would you be? If that was to happen, I would be right at home. That means me and you would just be in the park, having a nice game of chess.
Masta Killa's new album No Said Date (Nature Sounds Records) is in stores now.
Written by Robert for Rap News Direct