U-God is not angry. And he wants everyone to know that. Since voicing his displeasure about the way things were to Meth back in the day in Russell’s Simmons rock doc The Show we’ve all been under the impression he’s disgruntled. A fairly recent lawsuit Mr. Lamont Jody Hawkins brought against Mr. Robert Fitzgerald Diggs aka the RZA, stating Diggs was in breach of contract and thus owed U-God a pretty decent chunk of bread didn’t help the stigma.
But the past is the past. U-God’s working with RZA again and he’s got new product hitting the market today, The Keynote Speaker. He’s happy. We sat down with U to talk his new album, his relationship with RZA and the rest of The Clan.
See also: The RZA You Didn’t Know Existed
Heard some of the album. You sound revitalized. Do you have a new outlook or are there things you’ve learned in your career?
Yeah, they don’t want me to rap about chicks. At least not on this one. I know what the fans want to hear from me: Hardcore, street shit. Rhymes style like 94-98 type bars. That’s where I’m at.
So no “Black Shampoo” type records? Is this an angry/aggressive rap album then?
Why does everybody think I’m mad? I’m not mad. I’m good.
Maybe it was the lawsuit? Or even you barking on Meth in The Show?
Listen, me and Meth for a while were Batman and Robin. My role was to keep him out of trouble and hold him down. I made sure he was aight and getting to where he needed to go to score that touchdown for the team. Because I’m all about the team.
OK, fair enough. So it’s entirely produced by RZA or do you have a several accomplices?
Well, RZA executive produced the album. For those that don’t know that means he put it together. He gave certain things the nod. Plus I got five tracks from him on there. There are other producers though. DJ Homicide, Teddy … these young dudes is no joke. These young dudes are not playing.
It’s good to know you and RZA are back on the same team again. What was that rift about before? You were suing him at one point, no?
Yeah, but that’s just business. Another thing I learned in this industry is that everything is contractual. You can’t settle things in the street. You can’t dig pockets if someone owes you money. You have to get a lawyer and go before the judge and get everything straightened out that way. And more importantly you have to move past it and keep business moving. A lot of people have bad blood. You cannot be emotional, though. This is business.
It’s dope to see that’s the mindset. Wu Tang forever! What’s different this time around?
Well, we’re releasing everything on Soul Temple Records, RZA’s label. RZA is like our Dr. Dre. We’re focused on one little entity. It’s an outlet to put out our music. We’ve already put out five or six joints this year alone. But it’s growing. Even the majors started as independents, you know?
How do you feel about getting called the weakest link out of the Wu Tang Clan?
Well that goes back to what I was saying about holding Meth down. I went to jail [behind that]. So I only made it on like two songs because I was incarcerated for the making of 36 Chambers. The fans never let me live that down. Once I got my momentum on “Winter Warz,” with Cypress Hill and a few other tracks, you know “SWV,” things like that, RZA was putting me on more and more. So when Forever came out I was studying under The Abbot and was a Grand Master by then.
Fans definitely saw the vast improvement between the first and second Wu albums.
Yeah, because I’m a team player. It’s not about me, it’s about the team. Whoever is in the best shape gets to catch the ball. I wasn’t ready back then, I wasn’t in the best shape. Now I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m ready to catch the ball. It’s my time.
That takes a lot of patience.
It does, but like I said: it’s about the team. Because Method Man and Dirty was at the top of they’re A game. Then Rae came and got on his A game and that put Ghost on his A game. So I had to sit back for a minute and just wait. I’m still winning because it’s a team.
What about when, like, Cappadonna got to put out his album?
Cappadonna was still the team. The way I see it, that’s just someone else to catch the ball. That’s how we stayed winning. Ghost had that “Cherchez…” that was a touchdown pass and we kept winning. People think I was sour at mad and my brothers for getting shine. No. I was playing my position on the team.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 23, 2013