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Wu-Tang Clan’s U-God Talks to Ol’ Dirty Bastard From Beyond the Grave

In a raw conversation, the legendary rapper opens up about hip-hop, death, rape, mental health, black America and the time he almost fought Leo DiCaprio

If you ask someone who loves hip-hop about the top 5 greatest rap groups of all time, one name is gonna come up for sure: Wu-Tang Clan.

Wu-Tang Clan wasn’t only iconic, they were iconoclastic. They rearranged hip-hop in their image. There was the time before the Wu, and the time after they stomped onto the scene in their Timberland boots. They were hyper-intelligent, but they also liked pipe-hitting beats and janky piano loops, over which they dropped the kind of bars that would jimmy open doors of stolen cars.

As the most formidable group in early 1990s hip-hop, Wu-Tang brought New York back to pre-eminence after the West Coast had stolen some of its shine with N.W.A. and their descendants Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Warren G, Snoop Dogg and the Bay Area groups like Souls of Mischief from Hieroglyphics and artists like Del the Funky Homosapien. This was long before Jay-Z or Biggie brought the crown back to the Empire State. Back then, Wu-Tang seized imaginations. They opened third eyes. With the speed of a ninja, they got the whole world talking about Staten Island, aka Shaolin. Their sound hit like the many invincible styles of a crew of verbal kung-fu masters, too.

Now, if you ask a true hip-hop head to name their top 5 emcees in the Wu-Tang Clan, depending on the order, there’s one name that might not make that list. You’ll likely hear them shout-out Method Man, Ghostface Killah, GZA the Genius, RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Maybe Raekwon, if they like that grimey crime mafia rap. The fact that they’ll almost always overlook U-God, though, means they also miss the fact that he’s one of the truest members of the Clan. And definitely, the most honest.

That honesty is on full display in U-God’s recently published autobiography, RAW: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang. (The New Yorker went so far as to describe the book as “unexpectedly moving.”) In it, he recounts in gritty detail the rise and the incipient drama of the Wu. He also writes about growing up in the Park Hill projects of Staten Island with Meth and Raekwon, describes his early legal troubles and explains why he had so few bars on Wu-Tang’s debut album, Enter the 36 Chambers — he was in and out of prison as they were recording the album.

Just like the title of his book, raw is also the only way I can describe my conversation with him. Over the course of 90 minutes a few weeks ago, we discussed the culture-shaping influences of hip-hop, death, rape, mental health, how Black America must seek liberation from the brutalities of our shared past, all the times he’s talked to Ol’ Dirty Bastard in the afterlife, the night he and Leonardo DiCaprio almost threw down, another night when he almost ended up with Kim Kardashian and why he feels it necessary to clarify what Kardashian’s current romantic interest — i.e., Kanye West — really meant when he said slavery “sounds like a choice.”

Essentially, nothing was off-limits. He, in fact, answered my every question with not only his signature candor, but with inimitable Shaolin wisdom, a philosophical patter that unwinds lyrically and seemingly randomly, only to always weave together in the end in unexpected and profound ways. In other words, the only things edited below were in the name of length and clarity.

Your Park Hill ’hood, back in the day, was wild and woolly. You get into it in great detail in your book. But you also talk about childhood innocence, like doing Huckleberry Finn shit back before crack hit, which most folks probably wouldn’t imagine happening in the projects. What was childhood innocence like in Park Hill?
First of all, it was a community. When my mama couldn’t pay a babysitter, there was always someone to babysit me in the building. There was always someone there for you in the community. When you didn’t have no money, you went to the grocery store and you helped old ladies bag they groceries and you got a couple pennies. Then you had a few dollars in your pocket, and you went and got your bubble gum, your Kool-Aid or your little 25-cent juices. After that, you went to the arcade, and you played the video games. That was how we grew up.

You could also go in the back of the building, where there was undeveloped land. They had two big lakes. And out there we could use our imagination. We didn’t have PlayStations and video games. We had to use our minds to make up things, to keep our minds activated and filled with activity all day long. That was a good thing about being a kid then. But you always had to be inside the house by the time the streetlights came on. They came on at 7 or 8 o’clock. If you hadn’t come in the house by the time them lights come on, you gettin’ your ass whooped.

But I loved those days. I’d never change it because it made me a strong little muthafucka. Even though I got beat up. I got my ass whooped, until I started whooping ass. (laughs) You know what I’m saying? You get your ass whooped until you say, “Fuck this shit,” and you start whooping ass. You come out the house one day, and you start kicking niggas in the face and punching them in the head. (laughs) Throwing niggas down stairs and shit. (laughs) You don’t give a fuck after awhile. You break that fear factor; you get clarity. And no one messes with you no more. You become that dude in the ’hood.

You saw your first death when you were 5, when a young woman jumped off a building. That was a transformative moment for you. You also saw lots of friends and neighborhood kids get shot and killed as you were growing up in Park Hill. You write about how you once had to go through the morgue looking through all the drawers of dead bodies, trying to find your cousin for your grandma. And then, in college, you almost became an undertaker. Death seems to have taken quite a hand in shaping you. Would you agree?
I think about death a lot. I’ve seen death a lot. It’s a question mark for every human being on the planet. The great unknown. I can’t think of a day where I don’t think about death. Because life and death are one and the same. We here, but we’re certain every last one of us will have a death. We all share that in common. Whether you’re white or black. Whether you’re gay or straight. We all products of death. And we can’t escape that shit. The thing about it is: You never know when your shit is coming. That’s the curse of being alive. And it bothers me. It fucks with me. Because I’ve seen so much.

I mean, bruh, I’ve given brothers pounds, “What’s up, my G?” and the next day the niggas be dead. Know what I’m saying? I just gave a nigga a hug, and now he’s dead. A nigga just gave my son $100. He gave my little man $100, and the next fucking day, this nigga’s dead. You walk around a corner and see a muthafucka, and then when I come back around the corner, this nigga’s dead. I’ve seen that. That’s a part of my life that just fucks my head up. Like, I need therapy on that shit.

Often you refer to yourself as the Ambassador. Yet, in the book, you also talk a lot about how you learned to throw them hands, and how you got real good as a fighter. How do you decide when it’s time to talk, when it’s time to walk and when it’s time to knuckle-up?
Now when I say I’m the Ambassador, it didn’t mean I didn’t have problems. What I mean by Ambassador is that I was always in Park Hill but my brother’s father was in Stapleton. That allowed me to go to Stapleton, and fuck with those little niggas down there. So when I went to Stapleton, I didn’t have no fear. I’d be out there with my brother’s father, and niggas didn’t fuck with me because, honestly, I didn’t give a fuck. I didn’t have no fear as a kid. So I was down at Stapleton fucking around with Ghost. And those shortie niggas didn’t really fuck with me.

But the one thing about Park Hill and Stapleton, they didn’t get along. But I did, because those little niggas already knew me. So I had love in Park Hill and Stapleton. When beef went down between Park Hill and Stapleton, I could get in the middle because I’m the Ambassador. They’d be like, “Those Stapleton niggas.” And I’d be like, “Yo, yo, yo, I can’t really fuck with y’all niggas on that.” So I was able to get all up in the ’jects where muthafuckas had beef. I was already in there with my feet kicked-up. I knew all the gangsters. I knew all the little young niggas and all them little muthafuckas and the dudes who were running through there. I had every project known to me on the Island.

The Five-Percent Nation seems to have shaped a lot of your life philosophy. In fact, the acronym C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) was directly inspired by the use of acronyms by the Five-Percent Nation. You write that you and Meth came up with the idea for C.R.E.A.M. while working at the Statue of Liberty as teens. That’s about as American as it gets. How else did the Five-Percenters influence your and other members of the Wu-Tang Clan’s thinking about America?
As a Five Percenter, I was able to know and understand how we got here as black people. When you learn your history — my moms was always saying, “You need to learn your history, ’cause you know you’re African” — you got to learning about how we got here via the slave trader, and that we are all looked upon as ex-slaves. As a young motherfucker, you’re like, “Wow! Word?” (laughs) ’Cause you run around, and it didn’t really dawn on you. ’Cause you were a kid. You know? You watch TV. You’re chewing your gum. You’re riding your bicycle. You in art class. You don’t really get hit with the idea that your skin is a handicap for you.

But then you get to a certain age level and you start realizing shit like, “Why does this police jump out of the car and ask all of us kids, ‘Wanna go in for a lineup?’” Then he lines us up. He gives us all money. Meanwhile, he’s just putting us in the law book to start his little journey into trying to capture us somewhere down the line. We get targeted as babies. That’s who we are.

When you read [the Five-Percent Nation’s] degrees, you start to understand who you are, and you begin to have knowledge of self. That’s what gave us the extra. We already knew, “All right, we gotta watch these white muthafuckas.” Still, I don’t believe all white people are like that. A lot of them are just really tribal.

That’s why I don’t talk about racism, I talk about tribalism. I don’t call us races. I call us tribes. Everybody tribes up. You got your black dudes over here; your white dudes over there; your Spanish over there; you got Italians over there; you got this over there. Everybody’s tribed up. And if people don’t speak the language of another tribe, you can’t get in there. And if you come up on a spot of another tribe, you gonna have some problems.

So you gotta figure out how to maneuver amongst them different tribes. Like, when I was in jail, the whole house was Spanish. The TV was Telemundo. I don’t speak Spanish. It was like three black muthafuckas, and 100 Latino muthafuckas. Nigga, I couldn’t touch the phone. I couldn’t touch the goddamn TV. Why? Because I’m outnumbered, I’m outgunned and I’m out-tribed.

When I was in a situation like that, I realized the Mathematics [of the Five-Percenters] gave me a certain understanding about being a black man in the U.S. — how we got here, how we got slave traded, how we got stripped of our language, how we were taught to eat the wrong foods, how we get targeted as babies. That gave me and my crew the knowledge of self that made us fearless.

From the ages of 14 to 21, I was fearless. When you that age, you don’t have no fear of shit. You have nothing to lose. You really, really feel it. That’s why I thank the Lord I did get those degrees and understanding of how far we came. By me learning about that I was able to move and maneuver. They gave me that knowledge of self, which is needed in the black community to the utmost. ’Cause most us don’t understand the power of knowing thyself — knowing where you come from, knowing what you up against. When you know what you up against, you might go a little harder than the average-average.

Of all the members of Wu-Tang Clan, you and Method Man had a special relationship growing up. You knew each other from when you were real young. You describe your bond like Batman and Robin. You looked out for him, and he looked out for you. Like, when you’re in jail. You mention he was the only one from the Wu who checked on you. What’s your relationship with Meth like now?
That meathead nigga don’t stop. (laughs) Meth is a meathead, man. Meth is like my big brother, my cousin. I can’t put it in words. We’re like family, you know. And your family’s your family. You just gotta understand a motherfucker and certain stuff he be doing and why he be doing certain dumb shit. And you just gotta be like, just leave it alone, bruh. I can’t do shit, man. Because his baby is my son’s cousin. It’s too much. (laughs)

Back in the early days of Wu-Tang, they nicknamed you the Four Bar Killa, which for obvious reasons annoyed you. So you went back and worked hard on your rhyme schemes. Then you spit your bars on “Winter Warz” on Ironman. That track proclaimed why you were in the Wu. How good did it feel to be able to prove to your crew, to yourself and the world that you could really spit rhymes with the best of ’em?
It is what it is. At the time, I felt like I had something to prove. But then — as time went on — I didn’t care. I didn’t care no more. When you’re young, you want to make a statement. As you get older, you start realizing, “Man, I ain’t about this shit.”

Then, on Wu-Tang Forever, you definitely came with the rhymes. Like, you brought verbal heat on “Triumph.” It also seems to speak to the positive aspect of competition in the group. Would you agree?
There’s a thing we call competition. At that same time, there’s … How can I say it? It’s not really competition. It’s more or less like, “I need to get mine’s off.” (laughs) Me, personally, I’m not a jealous-type dude. I mean, I’m competitive to an extent. But I’m more or less of a dude, like, damn, I need to get mine’s off. I gotta bust my nut. I wanna grab those titties. (laughs) Sometimes, I’m like, “You know what? Nigga, I’m gonna terrorize this shit.” For the foremost, man, I’m a hustling-ass dude. When I see someone achieve something, man, I gotta work harder. I’m one of those muthafuckas. I gotta work 10 times harder now. That’s how it always was. I have no tolerance for dumb shit.

I’m amazed by certain people’s talent. I get inspired by certain things. Like, when I see a new pair of sneakers on a nigga, I’m like, “Whooo, nigga, where did you get them kicks from?” You got a new jacket on, I’m like, “Goddamn, nigga, where did you get that fly shit?” I’m amazed by fashion. I’m amazed by things that people invent, things that people wear or the lives people kicking. I’m like, “How did you think of that shit? What were you thinking when you made that shit? Nigga, how did you come up with that shit? What was the grade of weed you were smoking? What was you eating?”

You wanna know my character? How I really am? That’s how I am to my core. I’ve always been like that. Like, “Damn, that’s my nigga. I like how he put that together.” I think if the world were like that, you’d have less pain. You’d have less people trying to bring each other down, and think everything is all about, “I gotta keep number one, I gotta feed my family.” I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down, pilgrim. Slow down.” Life ain’t that serious. We can’t take this shit with us. You can enjoy it, though. We can enjoy this shit. And have some fun with it. Maybe get inspired. Shit, that might change the world. Who knows?

How did you find your voice?
It took me a long time to like my voice. Because I didn’t know how to control it. I was like Cyclops from X-Men, when he got the eye thing on, ’cause he didn’t know how to control his eye beams. And he kept blowing shit up until he found out how to control his shit. That was me. I had to learn to control my voice — how to make it go deeper. But then I’d get down [gives a sample of a super-deep voice] and be like, “I’m too fucking low.” I had to learn to keep it up to a certain tempo when I rhyme. That’s what happened when “Winter Warz” took place. I found that. I said, “Oh shit! I get it. Now I understand it.” I was cheating my tone, right here. Now I can sit in my tone like sipping water. I can go from speed, slow it down, jump in. I can do it all so much right now.

How did Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s absence on the later albums effect the group? Was he the needed glue? Was he that truth-teller, the raw and honest one?
Dirty was the wild motherfucker. And we missing that wild, creative muthafucka. The one that’s got that loose spirit that everybody loves. He had that spirit of controlled chaos. That’s when one of our legs got chopped off. The Lord took one of our legs away. And that’s the leg he took. He took that controlled chaos from us.

I’m not saying we can’t put it down like that, but Dirty didn’t give a fuck about how he looked. Or how he was doing. So sometimes I gotta call Dirty up. I be hearing voices like, “Damn, I feel like he be talking to me.” He’s like, “Yo, nigga, what the fuck you doing? Get the fuck outta here with that. You being like a robot. Stop being like a robot. Be loose. Loosen up, little nigga.” That’s what we needed, man — that controlled chaos.

When Wu was recording Wu-Tang Forever, you write about how you guys recorded it in L.A., and how you’d go out and party with all the Hollywood people. You tell a particularly funny story about when you met Leonardo DiCaprio. He was out with Q-Tip. But when you met him, you almost ended up fucking him up because he said some dumb shit to you. Do you remember what he said to set you off?
I knew Leo was young. Me and Ghost, we knew Tip. And it was tribal, you know. Leo was being wack because he was the only white dude on the inside. And yeah, he said some shit. But I forgot exactly what he said. I was like, “What the fuck?” ’Cause I wasn’t expecting him to say no shit. If you know the dude’s on TV — you expect these white dudes is soft.

What stopped you from throwing hands and humbling Leo?
Nah, nah, nah. It wasn’t to that element. The pressure didn’t go that high. It was more or less like, we sitting over there, he said some shit. I was like, “Huh?!” He said “Mwahhhhaha.” And I said, “What, muthafucka?! I’ll bust you in ya face!” Then the niggas was laughing. Then he went his way. I went my way. We was leaving the party. He said some wild shit, I said whatever, whatever, whatever. And then we just left.

It’s like I said, you’d think ’cause you see him on TV, he’s this pasty Hollywood dude. But some of these muthafuckas on TV is nuts, man. You can’t put it past none of these muthafuckas. But yeah, I just remember he said his rebuttal. He stood up for himself. He had balls. Leo got big-ass balls, I’ll tell you that much. He’s got some big cojones.

Another Hollywood story from when you were recording Wu-Tang Forever is how you stepped to a young Kim Kardashian. But then Inspectah Deck ruined it for you. Do you think that really was Kim K who you saw and got a number from at the House of Blues?
(laughs) Well, there was someone who looked like her. I don’t know if it was really, really her. But I stepped to her, and she was real short, like with doll hair. The crazy thing about it was that she called the crib, and I’d been waiting for her to call. I was expecting this call all goddamn day. Deck and I was staying at the Ritz-Carlton, staying in the same room. We got like an apartment, or whatever. And he was like, “Yo, Shorty called.” I said, “What’d you say?” And this nigga said, “I told her to come over and do both of us.” (laughs) This muthafucka! I said, “Damn, nigga, why you say that? Nigga, why you do that?” (laughs) But that’s how Deck was. He’s a prankster. He a funny dude, too. He got a real funny sense of humor. He’s a quiet comedian like me. We like to crack jokes.

Has anybody from the group been pissed at you over some of the truths you put in the book? Particularly Method Man or RZA? Like, you write about a time when Method Man took acid and ended-up in the bushes.
I’m sure some dudes are. You know what the funny thing is about telling stories? Everybody sees it different. For instance, my mother’s passages, right? She said, “I ain’t never say those things.” I told her, “Mom, you know how I know you said that? Because that’s what got me here where I am right now. And I believe it with every fiber of my heart.” She couldn’t say nothing after that. She didn’t have a rebuttal for nothing.

I told muthafuckas, “Tell your story, black man. Tell your story of how the fuck you saw it. How the hell you lived it. Why the hell you got here.” Because I already done told my story. I told my shit. I laid it out. I did have to tone it down a little bit. I couldn’t go 100 percent on dudes, like I can’t name names, ’cause some niggas from the ’hood still got cases. They still got their shit papered. But where I couldn’t name names, I could say, “My mans.” Or: “My mans and dem.” There’s a lot of that going on in the book. So it could be documented, but not in a way that it could incriminate other dudes.

In your book, RZA comes across as a control freak. This portrait seems to have bothered him. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said, “Some books are fiction, and some books are nonfiction. Some are myths, some are fantasy, some are sci-fi — I don’t know if this book falls totally in nonfiction.” But he ended the same interview by saying, “He’s an important piece to this Wu puzzle, and I’ve got nothing but love for him, personally.” What’s your relationship with RZA like now?
This muthafucka. He’s like my cousin. (laugh) That nigga gets on my goddamn nerves. But I still love that nigga. (laughs) That’s all it is, man. But I love that nigga. I have the pleasure — and I say this with all honesty and love and all of the above — I have the pleasure of being with this nigga for the last 25 fucking years of my life.

And you know what, man? I’m glad it was with him. I’m happy. And I’m not happy about everything. But on a scale of one to 10, I’m happy as hell for him coming on this journey with me. And putting our talents to use, and how we gave up all that nonsense we was doing as kids, and turned our negatives into a positive. No matter how we went about doing it. No matter how many things we had to run through in the ’hood. I’m happy I made it through this shit. I wasn’t supposed to make it past 25.

When I was 23 years old, I was nearly incarcerated for the rest of my life. On a positive note, here’s the fucking thing, bruh: My son is having a baby. My son, Daunte, who got fucking shot. But he lived, and now I’m a fucking grandfather. Like, what! I’m happy.

I’m a grandfather, nigga! Like, yeah, muthafucka. (laughs) And my grandfather, God bless him, night now, nigga, he’s still alive. Nigga is eight-five years old. (laughs) I just wish my grandmother was still alive to see this fly shit. But she didn’t make it. She had diabetes. She died of pancreatic cancer.

That’s another reason I’m fascinated with death. My grandmother didn’t want to take the chemo. She said, “I’m going. I’m outta here. I’m tired of this bullshit.” I’d be like, “C’mon, Grandma. Don’t you wanna stay and see your granddaughter graduate.” And she’s like, “Nope, nope, nope. I’m done.” She made me pull the plug on shit. And then, she was gone. The crazy thing is: I saw her spirit leave her body.

You saw your grandmother’s spirit physically leave her body — like, you saw her give up the ghost?
Yes! I saw it lift up from the shell of her corpse. Saw it with my own eyes. That’s why I’m so fascinated with death. It’s amazing. It’s crazy. It’s another level. It’s another adventure you gonna go on. That’s how I look at it. A new adventure. We in this adventure right now, but we got another adventure coming, too, brother.

You also write honestly and sensitively about how you’re the product of rape. You never knew your dad. But then, your mom told you that you were God’s son. And that, in a dream, God told her to keep you. How has that mix of negativity, positivity and spirituality made you who you are?
You know, you just take that for what it is, man. I got one half of me, and I feel like I’m missing a half. Now they got this new shit out, though. So I’mma fuck around and find out who this nigga is. They got new tests where I can find muthafuckas. I might have to take that test. Next month, I might take that test. I really wanna know the side that’s missing. Like, I have my mother’s loving heart, dawg. But that’s not it. I got my father’s ruthless hustle. My mother doesn’t have that side to her.

One thing I’ve learned about bloodlines: DNA is a muthafucka. You will naturally be the same as your father. You know that? If your father was a hustler, you will be a hustler. If your father was successful at something, you will be successful at that. It’s bloodlines. If your father was a bum, you gonna fuck around and be a bum. (laughs) DNA’s weird like that. ’Cause you’ll be thinking, “Nah, I’m gonna be better than my parents.” Yeah, you could be better than your parents sometimes, but, bruh, you are who you are.

Like, I ran into Dirty’s son at this park where I was performing. And I shit you not, I swear on everything I love, he said some shit that his father would say. He said this shit to me, and I turned around and said, “What? You sound just like your fucking father.” He looked at me and said, “Whoa.” I said, “Whoa, too, muthafucka!” (laughs) But like yo, the shit was creeping me out. He wasn’t around his father like that. So for him to talk just like his pop? That fucked me up.

All sorts of spirituality has played a big part in your life — from your moms saying you’re the son of God, to the lessons of the Five-Percenters, and all the death you’ve seen and been touched by. But in the book you also tell a story about a Jamaican from the ’hood, the dread named Fire, who performed a voodoo ritual you witnessed, and as soon as he was done, he gave you a Jolly Rancher candy that he said would always protect you. It seems like it did. What do you make of all your blessings? Do you believe in the metaphysics of it all?
Bruh, listen, there are many dimensions that the eyes can’t see. Our eyeballs can only see on this plane. Your eyeballs is weird. You can only see but certain levels. Yet there’s other levels out there, pilgrim. There’s ones right in front of your face. A nigga could be right in front of you, and you wouldn’t even see the muthafucka. Like, I told you: I believe in all that shit that muthafuckas can’t see with the naked eye.

Ol’ Dirty Bastard once famously said “Wu-Tang is for the children.” In many ways, in your book, you uphold that tradition. You speak a lot about black liberation, how to free your mind, how to feed your body, how to tend to your spirit, how to look after your psyche and consider therapy, how to be personally responsible, how to get right with your money, how to avoid dumb decisions — a lot of very important messages for young black youth. Have you considered writing a self-help book for black youth where you talk directly about black liberation and empowerment?
That word liberation is a weird situation. First of all, you have to understand something: We’re in a country that’s overpopulated with Europeans. They outnumber us. There’s no way around it for negroes to get liberation — or have a revolution and survive, not if the numbers don’t match. Can’t do it. It just won’t happen. Now, if you wanna talk about the betterment of our own people and how to put us on the right track, you have to understand we only been out of slavery about a hundred and half years. That means you got about three or four more hundred to go before brains start opening up more.

But the word liberation? You got to understand where we at and our situation. It’s tribal. So we gotta build our tribe. Make our tribe happy. And stop killing each other, stop dealing drugs to each other, stop tearing each other down when we see someone get ahead.

Now, I like the fact that there’s a system in play so you can have money in your pocket. And there’s a fucking pile of bread that keeps your lights on. And there’s trains to jump on, and cars to drive in. All these little things that was developed by the European nation. These things are good. But how are we gonna add on to the situation right now? How are we gonna add on and take ourselves to the 21st century? That’s how we gonna liberate ourselves.

Otherwise, where you gonna liberate to? You’re here, muthafucka. What we need to do — this is crazy idea, but you know what crazy shit I thought about? One of the things that’s the most craziest thoughts I had, right — cotton.

Cotton. We got tricked out of picking cotton. You look at the energy in the air around it — it’s like, we was slaves, and that cotton shit was fucked up, and all that, but if we had continued on picking cotton, we would have had so much financing in America right now. We woulda had control of cotton. We woulda had control of shirts and pants that get made. You know how many things we use cotton for?

But we got tricked out of that. Makes me want to pick that shit up and go plant some cotton and have that mastery. We ran away from that. We ran to the city and became concrete babies. The psychological thing about it is, that was our avenue. We coulda had control of that, and used it. That’s how our generations wouldn’t have gotten smashed.

This makes me wonder: What did you make of what Kanye’s been doing and saying lately. How he’s going around supporting Trump, and what he said about how slavery was our choice?
I’m not really political. I don’t care about politics because I’m not a politician. I’m not sitting there reading no big-ass bills. But one thing I realized in that shit Kanye said about how slavery was a choice, he didn’t word it right. He meant to say it, but what he fucking meant to say was, in order to be a slave, you have to submit to cruelty. You have to submit to bad ways of living. You have to submit to the cruelties of slavery when you didn’t want to submit, and if you revolted against some evil shit like that, you were no longer a slave. That’s what he meant to fucking say. That’s what he needed to say. That’s how he needed to word it.

A slave is a person who submits to circumstances. I’mma submit to being on a plantation. I’mma submit to being whipped. I’mma submit to my woman being raped. “Nah, nigga!” Them niggas in the West Indies, them niggas in Haiti, they ran niggas the fuck up out of Dodge. They didn’t play that. They didn’t submit. So they ran ’em up out of there. That’s the same thing. That’s the same concept. Kanye said that it was our choice. And that’s what he meant by it being our choice. I understand what he was trying to come at. He just didn’t word it right. That’s all.

Did you see Straight Outta Compton? The movie about N.W.A.’s early days and rise to success.
Yeah, of course. That was hot. I liked it.

Have you talked to anyone in Hollywood about optioning your book for a Wu-Tang movie?
I ain’t gonna talk about that right now.

Okay, fair. What else you thinking about doing next?
I ain’t gonna talk about that neither. (laughs) All I know is, I’m gonna pop up like a jack-in-the-box and blow ya top off. (laughs) I don’t wanna talk about what I’m gonna do, ’cause people try to beat me to the punch. Go and get my roll before I get there. And I’m not with that. Sometimes dudes start saying something, but if you got the talent, you do it. You don’t talk about it. You don’t try to intercept a nigga’s pass. No, nigga, you just straight up go do shit. And really, you gotta know, I’m a talented muthafucka, man. People think I’m this dude who’s a thug but peaceful, so they try to strike me down in this little box, but little do they know, I’m multi-talented. I do shit muthafuckas can’t understand. But when I start putting it together, they be like, “Holy shit, this nigga really is in some shit.”

That’s why I don’t talk about shit before I do it. It’s like I said, bruh, I’m more than just a rhymer and a book writer. I’m a certified artist. I enjoy all types of artistry. I’m not saying I’m good at everything, but if I put my mind to some shit, nine out of ten times, I have the patience and the researching ability to make that shit titanium.