The most aloof and perhaps the most intriguing, member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Masta Killa has no need for the extra lime light that many rappers crave. During interviews he is more likely to spit the dopest verses of his peers, rather than quote himself. Despite Wu-Tang’s widespread success, Killa’s biggest publicity stunt, outside of his ultra-smooth lyrics, was joining a PETA ad-campaign promoting vegetarianism. But just because he does not speak up often, does not mean he has nothing to say.
On the contrary, if given the opportunity Killa can wax poetic on more than just his new album, Back to Brooklyn (August 8), and the universal appeal of that he and his Wu brothers continue to demonstrate. “I’m just thankful that someone is willing to listen,” says Killa, displaying a dose of humility that is so rare in Hip Hop today.
On his sophomore solo effort, Killa also displays his down to earth appeal by hosting a variety of local MCs and producers throughout his tracks. In fact, he directly steered away from having a Wu-Tang produce album so he could give other artists the same leg up that was extended to him when he made the jump from BK to Shaolin more than ten years ago.
MVRemix: What’s your writing style like?
Masta Killa: It comes together in a series of ways. I can hear a beat. Sometimes it just flows. Catch some good shit from that. I really need silence. Thoughts are already dancing in my head, know what I’m saying?
MVRemix: Do you prefer working with other members of the clan or on your own?
Masta Killa: I never sat down with anyone. Anything I’ve written, it’s been by myself. I write from my heart. That’s what comes. We never really sat down and made songs together. We come to the studio together, but each one of us is in his own corner. I know he’s coming out with his best shit, so I gotta come with mine.
MVRemix: So was it a competitive atmosphere?
Masta Killa: Well yeah. You know, Hip Hop is a competitive sport. That’s Hip Hop to me. I want to win and I want to shine, just like you. You sayin’ slick witty shit. We on the same team and we’re out for the same thing. You wouldn’t ever have to try and push yourself, because if your shit wasn’t right, it won’t make the track. The first album was like up against eight individuals. It was crazy. You see mutha fuckas coming like that, and you can’t come back with some cat in the hat bullshit. Get on with some bullshit? I don’t think so; you better come with your best shit. When you really listen and you hear the time a brotha took to build something that nourishing, it’s like goddamn how can I not get on with something as equally potent?
MVRemix: When did you first start spitting rhymes for an audience?
Masta Killa: I never performed until we launched Wu Tang. That was my first time as an MC. I have history since elementary school doing talent shows. Breaking and shit like that. I was that kind of dude. I loved to pop. That was me. Always doing shit around music. As far as with a mic in my hand, Wu-Tang was the first time.
MVRemix: What inspired you to take it to that next level?
Masta Killa: There never was next level for me. It was Wu Tang and that was it. I never tried to get on. Never looked for any of this because it was never my vision. I’m kinda like hanging out with Gza and just stumbled across some shit, oh word? And I was like, maybe I can do this. When I was young going to clubs, I was just hanging out. I never went in there like I was trying to be an MC. I never tried to get a record deal or pass out tapes. It’s just been Wu-Tang and I’m here.
MVRemix: Who in the group helped influence your style the most?
Masta Killa: My style comes from all of the eight. All of that is what makes me. That’s why I’m the ninth. It takes nine to be complete. The number system goes from zero to nine then repeats itself. I’m like the glue. It’s everything within one. I took all of my brothers as a lesson. It was fortunate that I was able to sit in the cut and study, both talent and business wise. Then I came out to express myself.
MVRemix: Were you guys aware that you were starting something legendary in Hip Hop?
Masta Killa: For me, you know, it was more of an observation lesson. I never intended on being in a legendary group. I decided to take it all serious when I saw what my brothers were involved in. If it was a meal, it tasted good to people. People accepted it and loved it. I said I’m going to make the best of this situation. Those things never dawn on me, even to this day. Meth might be a house hold signature name, and Ol’ Dirty, rest in peace, you think about certain names it just hits you. But me, I never thought about the game like that. My ID is still being shown and I’m proving it. There’s still a lot of development left when it comes to the Masta Killa. I haven’t given everything yet. I’m still growing.
MVRemix: How would you characterize the new album?
Masta Killa: It’s Hip hop. It’s beautiful music you know what I’m saying. I kept the same basic chemistry and kept support of my family. You can expect consistency and the sound of all my brothers supporting me. Good music and ill lyrics. It’s got a real raw sound. A soulful sound. That’s the Brooklyn sound for me. The history of it, from block parties and jams you know. The real Hip Hop scene. From mom having a house party. The sound is love, and it brings people together. People who listen to my album will be able to say it’s banging. It’s hard to find an album that’s good from beginning to end. You won’t have to fast-forward through any tracks, though you maybe’ll want to rewind. And before you know it, it’s gone. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard some good fucking music. That’s why he find ourselves buying the old shit over and over again.
MVRemix: What were some of your influences?
Masta Killa: My influences are internally built in. They’re from being a fan of music since birth. I’m already inspired by many different artists, styles, and life. Opportunity to pour these things back into the world. Part of everything I’ve experience in my short life. I still like listening to all of the old stuff. I can listen to Gladys Knight all day. The Isley Brothers, the Delfonics, New Birth, Patty Labelle. So much man, I don’t want to leave anyone out.
MVRemix: Why did you want to bring this album back to Brooklyn?
Masta Killa: Because there’s a lot of hood talent, but not too many outlets for it. Shit. It’s more people than jobs. Baby that’s the way I look at it and shit. Talent doesn’t just cover entertainment either. What ever you have a knack for, there’s just not enough opportunity to shine. Me, I’m not anyone special. Just blessed with a golden opportunity to have a job that I love to do, and that’s making music.
MVRemix: Who is on the album with you?
Masta Killa: Well for MCs, we got Victorious, Phoenix Flames, Sweet Murda, and Killa Sin. And producers, we go Wise, PF Cuttin, my man Saw. There’s not even a Rza beat on the album. But I know how I want the album to sound. I know how the Wu-Tang sound is supposed to be. I can get sound I’m looking for. Go back to neighborhood and work with people I’ve wanted to for a long time. When you hear the music you will think one of those original brothers did the beats, but it’s not. 75% of this album was recorded in Brooklyn. But I’m not looking to taking nothing over. I’m not the king of shit. It’s just what I’m doing now. There’s not a whole bunch of beefing and quarrelling. That’s just a whole bunch of bullshit that doesn’t really have anything to do with music.
MVRemix: How come Wu-Tang never got pulled into any beefs?
Masta Killa: You know I really can’t say. I don’t know. If you look for things I think you’ll find them. Know what I’m saying? What ever persona you put out it comes back. If it’s negative, then negative things will follow. There’s no room for positive and negative in the same space. When day comes night must leave. No room for the bullshit.
MVRemix: Do you see anybody stepping up like Wu-Tang did to make that next evolution?
Masta Killa: I think anybody who is serious about their craft is definitely going to take it to the next level. It’s inevitable. In the NBA Lebron has done. Just like Kobe did, and Dr. Jay. New players of the day keep it evolving. I can’t say who, but someone will come in and take it to a new level. There’s tons of talent out there. The whole thing, I think, is being able to stand test of time. Continuously do what you do. Without withering away.
It’s so strange in hip hop right now. There is a whole different feeling. The music that is being produced is… I don’t know. The person who says fuck it and comes with the raw shit, and doesn’t worry about the radio and what people are used to hearing, that person will be most successful.
MVRemix: What can fans expect about with Wu-Tang’s upcoming ODB Tribute Tour?
Masta Killa: Expect to see all eight of us rocking them famous hits. A lot of fans haven’t seen us together for years on one stage, it’s a blessing itself.