|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2006-02-07
Checkout the interview conducted by HipHopGame to Hell Razah where he talks about the making of Sunz Of Man debut album "The Last Shall Be First".
Many thanks to HipHopGame for conducting such a good interview.
Sunz of Man - The Last Shall Be First
Breakdown done by Hell Razah
Intro - I had done this where I named all of the songs on the album. This was going to run at the end of the album. I A&Rd this album. I wanted to do some real poetry-type shit on this. I put every song name into this. No one has ever done that before. This was supposed to be an interlude, but it came out incredible. People were like, "Damn son, how did you come up with that?" I made a banging ass poem!
Cold - This was me and Prodigal Sunn, produced by 4th Disciple. We had done this in the wintertime. 4th came with the beat, and we heard the beat and went crazy. It had some wind blowing in it. We were thinking of wintertime and shit, and we talked about how niggas get cold-hearted and how you have to be able to hustle bundled up.
Natural High - Wow. This is an incredible record. We had released it as a single. It was an Al Green sample that we had used that we were having problems with in the beginning of getting it cleared. It was me, Prodigal, 60-Second, Priest, and Tray Bag from Ghetto Government. Thats my brother. Supreme produced this. He also did "No Love Without Hate" for us. We wanted to keep that vibe and original Sunz of Man flavor. We had to get a band to come and play it over for us. The hook was saying, "We make that muuuusicccc that moves your body!" We wanted you to know that Sunz of Man is spiritual, lyrical, and political type of dudes, but at the same time, we can make a groove and make you move. Tray Bag came up with the hook. We laid the verses down so fast it was incredible. Next thing you know, its a single. When we had dropped it as a single, Busta came out with the same sample right after us. That was kind of strange because we knew the God. I didnt know he had the same sample, but I guess great minds think alike. Sunz of Man had a lot of those incidents happen.
Flaming Swords - This was done by True Master and this has all four original Sunz of Man members in it. Flaming swords were protecting the Garden of Eden. Thats what we are. True Master came with the beat and you couldnt say no pretty-ass rhymes to that shit. You had to come real dungeon on that. It sounds like bodies are being dragged down to the dungeon. This was taking it back to the "Five Arch Angels" type of style. This came out incredible. This is definitely one of my favorite joints on here.
Illusions - 4th Disciple produced this. It was me, Prodigal, 60, and Masta Killa. I came up with the hook first. I was feeling like, back in 98, there were a lot of niggas popping mad shit. This was when the commercial started taking over the underground. Music is music and Hip Hop is Hip Hop. There were a lot of illusions and fake-ass shit. Everybody was so-called "popping bottles" and all of this fake shit. I had come up with the hook listening to 4ths beat. The beat changed up into two beats. We had to do this. We told 4th that beat was incredible. "This rap game aint what it seems/Artists get cream/Turnin fiends selling people a dream." I wrote the verse that night because the beat was so crazy. I was like, "I have to write this shit right now." I laid it down, boom, and the first verse is like murder.
We told Prodigal to come in when the beat changed up so it sounded like another part. Then we threw Masta Killa on it after we had the song done. We had played him the song and as soon as he heard it, he wanted to get on that. Youve never heard Masta Killa like how you heard him on "Illusions." We had brought a part of Masta Killa out that sounded real good.
Shining Star - The story behind "Shining Star" is so deep. The original track was done by me and Priest and RZA had done this beat. We were out in Cali. We recorded 85% of this album out there. This is when Wu-Tang was out there doing "Wu-Tang Forever." We had done the original song. I ran into Wyclef at "The Jungle" shit for Muhammad Ali at Radio City. We were talking about doing a song together. I had lost contact with Lauryn Hill, but I had a talk with Wyclef about how he felt about doing a track for us. The track that he had originally gave us, we had tracked it up, but we really wanted to make history with him. We were like, "Yo, we need a beat for this "Shining Star" remake of an Earth, Wind, and Fire joint. The second version we had done sounded like some roller-skate-type shit. We needed something gritty. We didnt want to sound pop.
We recorded it with Earth, Wind, and Fire. This wasnt no Pro Tools shit. We were with them! We met their family, their kids…we had done this song and Dirty came to the studio, Rest in Peace, ODB came to the studio and when he heard this…he had been with Wyclef doing "Ghetto Superstar." When we had done "Shining Star," it was kind of weird because Pras came into our studio and asked ODB to do a verse for "Ghetto Superstar." We were bugging at the time because we didnt know they were going to call that "Ghetto Superstar." We felt that some funny stuff was happening. Were doing "Shining Star" and now youre doing "Ghetto Superstar"? It went down, we did the track with Earth, Wind, and Fire.
Wyclef was real good. I have footage coming out on a DVD showing the making of this song. Wyclef came in and got us to chop our verses down to eight bars. Wyclef thought we should break it into pieces where we all come in sporadically. This came out incredible. When we finished it, we were like, "This song right here is history" It took a lot to get this song done, and we earned Earth, Wind, and Fires respect because they had never heard anyone rap on some positive and spiritual vibes before.
Israeli News - Tray Bag and Killah Priest came up with the hook for this. We had a studio that we had built in New York to record at. Supreme did the beat. I came up with the title for this because were about spreading the truth about the children of Israel everywhere. I came up with the title. They came up with the hook and everything. Once Priest laid his verse and opened it up, we were writing and smoking. That was a crazy session. We were in there building on scriptures and everything. Tray Bag laid his verse down, and then I came in to clean up. I cleaned it up with the last verse. Once that shit was done, we were listening to it like, "Yo son, this song is single potential." Our single was supposed to be this or "Natural High" for the single and "Natural High" had the most votes. This is my #2 favorite right here.
Tribulations - We did this in California. The way this came about is ill. Prodigal came up with the hook for this. Prodigal had the hook before we even heard the beat. This was produced by RZA. RZA played some beats while we were recording the album. He came through and he had played some beats that were for the "Wu-Tang Forever" album. I was in the booth when he played the beat and Prodigal called me out of the booth. Prodigal was saying we had to do that song right now. He kicked the hook to me and I was like, "Thats an automatic banger. Lets do it." 60 and Priest were cool with it and we did it. Prodigal and 60 were going back-and-forth and we were like, "They killed it," so me and Priest did the back-and-forth. That was a Sunz of Man/Wu-Tang-type of song. We were going through a lot of tribulations trying to get this album done. Sunz of Man was getting in and out of deals, we were going through some street shit, 60 was in trouble with the authorities, so we were like, "Lets call this shit Tribulations. "
The Interview - This is my comic side. I come from the days when we used to rip on niggas. I wanted to show people that we could laugh. We even got revolutionary jokes! This was an era in 98 when everyone was on some battle shit. I wanted to do a battle where one nigga said something about another niggas father and then they got to fighting. Some real shit happened like that, but not in that way. We were battling with some niggas and then we ended up beating them up. It wasnt because they were more lyrical than us, it was because they started talking shit. We used to whoop niggas asses! We had to stomp a nigga out in Club New York and then a riot broke out. Another time we were in the club in the bathroom and we were in Vegas, and some shit happened with 60. Niggas recognize niggas and they were on our dicks. Its some other rap niggas and theyre still out now. We were chilling with Meth and RZA, and those niggas wanted to be on our dicks. We were like, "Yo man, get the fuck out of here with that shit!" We were like, "Lets make a shit about what niggas are doing that other rappers can relate to." We also did a skit about niggas leaking out your shit before you finish. We had some comedy here, but its real shit. Comedy is real shit. You laugh at shit you think a nigga should have never said. When were smoking weed and were flashbackin, thats how we are.
The Plan - This is the shit. It started from the original record that 4th was playing. We were feeling that, so 4th made the beat right there on the spot. 4th Disciple is one of the most incrediblest producers I have ever seen. He just wanted the room for an hour. We went to go get blunts and shit, and he had the beat done. That shit was incredible. It was supposed to be a song for 60s solo album. 60 had laid his shit down to it but then he wanted all of us to get on it. We had done it twice because the first time it was 60s solo song. That shit was hot.
60 didnt want to do it as a solo song. He wanted to make it as a Sunz of Man record. We came back and laid our verses and it turned out to be one of our singles. We recorded this in California too. The hook is talking about how you think you have the perfect plan. We wrote our verses about how people thought they had the perfect plan and the shit went bad. Thats happened to everyone. Nobody ever thought that Dame Dash and Jay-Z would break up. You think you have the perfect plan and the shit will fall apart. No one ever thought the shit would change how it did. We were talking on real life topics. Everybodys had a plan that went bad and that was the motivation for this song.
Collaboration 98 - This was done by True Master. We did this one in New York. It was me, True Master, and Prodigal in the studio. True Master was playing some beats and Meth came through the studio to check us out. We were in the studio and we were just rapping with each other, just bugging. We were telling True Master to rhyme on it. A lot of people think he just makes beats, but he can rhyme. This is one of the first songs when you can hear True Master kicking rhymes on his own beat.
Meth was in there on some "checkin us out" shit, and he heard my verse. Me and Meth have a good chemistry together. Theres a lot of shit that Ive laid for Meth and Meths laid for me. At the end of my verse, I said a rhyme where I said, "cant you see my love even though we be thugs." When Meth heard that, he was like, "Yo son, I want to make that the hook." I was like, "Bet, that sounds ill." Meth took what I said in my verse and made a hook out of it. He wrote the hook and wrote a long-ass verse. He was like, "Im going to lay this down for yall." He laid it down on the strength of the record. Then Prodigal closed it up and the rest is history. This is one of the illest records on the album.
Inmates to the Fire - Wow. This comes from the "Five Arch Angel" days. This was done at RZAs house, where we also did "Soldiers of Darkness." We had done this around the same time they were doing Raes album. We had done another song called "As It Was Written" that didnt make the album. Those two songs were on the same reel. We couldnt find the beat because of everything RZA lost in the flood in the studio. It was through the will of God that we found it. We had to redo the vocals over and all sorts of crazy shit.
Killah Priest was on the original song. He was recording "Heavy Mental" when we were recording some of these songs, so we couldnt get a hold of him. We recorded this shit with me, Prodigal, and 60. RZA heard this and told us we had to throw it on the album. He wanted to mix it down first. When we got it back from him, it sounded completely different. This is related to "The Book of Daniel." Daniel was thrown in the lions den. We used the concept of the lions den because he was cast into the fire. If you could be in the fire, that will purify your soul because fire will cleanse you. Fire purifies gold. We laid this down and it was a wrap from there.
Not Promised Tomorrow - We had done this in New York. 4th Disciple played the beat for me. When I heard the song, I wanted to do the hook with a female. I wanted Tequitha. She had sung "One Step" for Priest. Shes like our sister. I wanted her to sing that hook for me. She knocked it out. I laid my verses down and Prodigal had laid his shit down. 60 came and did his verse. We had to beat up the engineer that night. He wasnt listening and he was giving us attitudes. We had to kick his ass and keep him in the room. We had paid for studio time and we were going to do it right. We sat that nigga down and the song came out good so we threw it on the album.
For the Lust of Money/The Grandz - Oh man! "For the Lust of Money" was another song that we had done with True Master. We wanted to do a song about money. This was when the "Benjamins" were going out. We were saying, "Fuck the Benjamins, were about the grandz." This is how this came about. We didnt have a money song on the album and we wanted to do one. True Master gave me a beat that was supposed to be for Method Man. Once he threw this shit on, we started writing. We knocked this out in the same day. It was me and Prodigal in the studio. 60 came from Brooklyn to meet us there and as soon as he got there, he wrote his shit, and it was a song. I still get asked about this record to this day.
Can I See You - This is another vintage "Five Arch Angels" record from those days. RZA did this beat. It wasnt supposed to be on the album. Me and Prodigal did a song about our niggas locked up. It was a "miss yall niggas"-type record. 4th was in the studio and everyone thought he did that beat, but it was RZA actually. 4th came to the studio with Berretta 9 from Killarmy. He kicked his verse and Prodigal wanted him to get on the shit, so we threw Berretta 9 on there and did Sunz of Man/Killarmy collaboration. This song got such a response.
They said the DC sniper was listening to our records in his car. They said he was listening to "Can I See You." We got niggas like that listening to our shit. If he felt the vibe, he felt the vibe. We didnt give him the shit to go out and snipe people, but the song is crazy. Its for all our prison niggas locked up that we havent seen in a long time.
Next Up - We wanted to do some real Hip Hop type of shit. I wanted to make a "Symphony"-type song like Marley Marl. We knocked it out, the beat was crazy. True Master banged this shit out. Me, Prodigal, and 60 laid the verse. We brought this with us to California. Meth used to always hang with us. Meth came to the studio and we were smoking and shit, he heard this, and he said, "I want to fuck with that." We had two songs with Meth on "The Last Shall Be First." This is some real Hip Hop, pass the mic-type shit.
Intellectuals - This was one of the last songs we did. We had the beat and we were sitting there just vibing to the beat. We didnt have a hook for. We were in a session with U-God with the beat rocking. It was True Master, U-God, and then Raekwon came through. Rae hopped on this song. Rae laid his verse to the beat first. We didnt even have a hook. He did the verse and told us to just go from there. Once Raekwon laid it, we were sitting there like, "We need a hook."
I did my verse, and then when I finished, U-God was like, "Yall niggas is intellectuals rhyming professionals." He said that on some talking shit. I was like, "Thats the hook!" U-God got into the booth and said, "Intellectual, rhyming professionals." That was the hook. 60 came and laid his verse. U-God wasnt on the album but he wanted to get on it so he wrote his verse right there in the studio. He laid his verse and that was it. We had one more song to do and we were done with the album.
Five Arch Angels - This song was done when we were signed with Priority and we had switched labels, so we had to re-record it. Songs like "No Love Without Hate" and "Soldiers of Darkness" couldnt be on the album. I was like, "Fuck that, Im going to jack this shit and use it as the outro." Niggas got upset because they wanted to hear the whole song. I meet niggas to this day that ask me why "Five Arch Angels" wasnt on the first album. This is the birth certificate of the Sunz of Man. It was Shabaaz the Disciple, Prodigal Sunn, Hell Razah, Killah Priest, and 60-Second Assassin. This is one of the main songs that has all five of us on it. The title came from Priest, Shabaaz, and 60. We were talking about The Scriptures, flipping…when 4th Disciple played the beat, it sounded so holy. That was a holy day. It should go down as a holiday the day we recorded this for Sunz of Man.
We were building, Bibles were out, 60 was singing...60 goes into these moods where hell be singing. He went into the booth and sang over the whole track. 4th went in there to record him and he mixed it down to where 60s vocals were singing along with the beat. We were all going in right after each other. 60 did the first verse and he came in killing it. We were like, "Oh shit, its on now." You might get cut in a studio session with us because were all sharp. This became the B-Side to "Soldiers of Darkness." We let the fans know that we didnt forget them and we slapped it on as the outro.
I would say "The Last Shall Be First" is the most classic version of Sunz of Man. Its like The Bible. If you dont have this, then you dont know shit about what were talking about. All of our fans know that this is our most classical record. So much love was on this album. We had Earth, Wind, and Fire, RZA, Wyclef, Method Man, ODB, Raekwon, U-God...We were really in a zone at that time. I even feel that we gave a spark to Nas off of this. His album was "It Was Written" and we had a song called "As It Was Written." A lot of people that really know about us had to get a spark from us from this album. This album is on some real spiritual shit. Its not so righteous where youll feel that were a bunch of pussies. I would say it was "street righteousness." We had a real respect for this shit. Everybody can tell were kicking some real shit. Everybody at the time was trying to make some real dance shit. Canibus came out around this time and we battled him. We battled a lot of niggas. Sunz of Man is very well-respected. If you dont have this album, well, you probably cant even get the record now.
Were working on an album of all our classic records. Were going to put that out. Its going to have "Soldiers of Darkness," "No Love Without Hate," and a whole bunch of songs that you didnt hear. Itll have songs off of "Saviorz Day." Its going to be a limited edition. Its going to be for the fans. Were doing this shit for the people that are mad they never got all these songs on one album. Thats going to be like The Torah.
This album has a lot of shit. We affected a lot of people. Theres a lot of people rhyming like us now. Were not mad at the biting. You cant bite spirituality. We even went to Rikers Island to promote this album. We kept it gangster with this album.
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