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Interview With Wu-Tang Clan’s Masta Killa – ‘Talent Is Talent And Business Is Business’

 

Being a member of the most influential rap group of the past 20 years is like holding a passport for access to whatever interests you have: Acting suits Method Man, GZA has given lectures at MIT, and RZA has worked in Hollywood and cosigned Chipotle for a new ad campaign. Masta Killa, the last core member of Wu-Tang Clan to release a solo album, has more specific priorities, namely becoming the vegetarian hip-hop spokesman for PETA, and releasing his solo music independently—something he’s been doing for almost 15 years. Masta Killa has always valued health. If you look back at his first appearance with the Clan on the seminal hoodie-and-Timberlands anthem “Da Mystery of Chessboxin,” he spent his introductory bars warning of attacks to the immune system.

On the heels of his latest solo album Loyalty is Royaltyhis fourth solo record—Masta Killa remains an elegant writer shrouded in mystery. On the Nature Sounds released album, Masta Killa celebrates the courtship of beautiful women, passing wisdom down to the next generations, and the rudimentary beginnings of hip-hop in the 70s and 80s that led to his life of rhyming. I spoke with Masta Killa on being unburdened by industry demands, enjoying the freedom the Wu-Tang shield has given him, and how he survives in a rapidly changing business.

Zilla Rocca: You’ve been involved with a major label in Wu-Tang Clan through Loud Records and you’ve been with Nature Sounds, one of the longest-running independent hip-hop labels. What is freedom for you as an artist still after experiencing every level of the rap industry?

Masta Killa: Well I’ll tell you, brother, I’ve been very blessed to be in this industry even from day one. You know, I was caught up in a position where I was so blessed to be in a group to be able to learn. And I was also kind of being paid to learn. Even with the Loud situation, that pressure wasn’t directly on me as far as my freedom because all of those beginning albums, I was still learning and perfecting my craft. I was on [Enter The Wu-Tang] 36 Chambers but I was only on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin.” Do you know why? Because that’s the only rhyme that I had. That was the first rhyme that I ever wrote.

Zilla: How about that!

Masta Killa: Then came [Raekwon’s] Cuban Linx, [GZA’s] Liquid Swords, [Ghostface Killah’s] Iron Man, all of those albums that came, I was still learning the business, learning my craft with MC’ing. So I was in a position where I got to enjoy all the perks that came with being in that industry. I wasn’t actually signed to be contained to stop my creative flow of learning and growing. And that was a blessing to me.

 

 

The Full Interview found here by forbes.com



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In 2015, the compilation project The Meth Lab hit the streets, touted as a Method Man album, though much to the chagrin of fans, the Wu-Tang Clan legend was only thinly present. “People were upset,” Method Man recalls. “Every song on there had somebody else on it with the exception of one song that I did by myself.” Meth’s referring to the smooth “2 Minutes of Your Time,” though this time around he’s clocking in at a much longer stretch.

Meth Lab II: The Lithium is on its way, and with it comes the new single “Grand Prix,” premiering here on Billboard today (Aug. 9). The track is a return to Method Man’s true form: dark undercurrents mixed with sharp wordplay and seamless delivery. It’s that skill-set that has kept Method Man a continuous torchbearer for real rap, and his most obvious attribute. “I can rhyme my ass off, that ain’t nothin’ new,” he says with a laugh. “People already knew that, but they just tend to forget. Every now and then you’ve gotta remind them.”

The sequel project also brings the return collab of Method Man with music executive upstart Anthony “Hanz On” Messado of Hanz On Music. The two met years ago, as Messado was a Wu-Tang affiliate even as a teenager. When he forged plans for his own label and wanted to work with Method Man, Meth was skeptical at first. “But the more the music came through, the more I liked it and got more involved,” he expresses. A cosign from fellow Wu family member Streetlife made the mission complete, and now a part two is already in the pipeline.

 

The concept of the Meth Lab in general is a haven for burgeoning talent. “It’s basically our little movement out on Staten Island that gives us a chance to give a lot of these dudes a platform to display themselves and their music and show the mechanics that go into a project,” Hanz On explains. The studio’s name came about when the owners of Trackstar Studio joined forces with Meth and Hanz to form the collaborative Meth Lab, timed with the first installment’s release, as that’s where the project was recorded. This time around, there’s a much greater presence from Method Man, enlisting other big names like Snoop Dogg and producer Dame Grease.

For Meth, it’s a renewed sense of spirit in the sport of rap. “It made it fun for me again,” he says. And with a mighty healthy film/TV career, it offers him the opportunity to align with an indie brand and watch it grow. “I should have done this a long time ago,” he admits, “but everything comes in its due time and this wasn’t my idea. It was Hanz’s project. It’s still Hanz’s project. I do music because I want to now; not because I have to.”

This won’t be the end of The Meth Lab either. Future projects will be laid out like episodes and even offer the brand to venture into comedy. It’s a testament to Method Man’s undeniable consistency, but also his willingness to pivot, and with Hanz On in the mix as well, the result is classic material with a new energy. “I want it to feel like it’s a TV show,” Method Man says. “Either a bad one, or a good one, or a polarizing one. As long as it’s a show.”

 

Souce:Billboard

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