Killah Priest Interview
“There’s a lot of stuff that always be on my mind. It’s just different types of stories and different types of themes. It just comes from everywhere. It comes from the inner core of just my mind being so much of a circus. I look at this and I look at that. It’s something like a dark circus and I wanted to fulfill those parts that was in my mind.” Killah Priest speaks with HipHopGame about his double-disc offering The Psychic World of Walter Reed, an album with Ghostface, Wu-Tang, and much more in this exclusive interview.
Your new album, The Psychic World of Walter Reed is out. This seemed to quietly sneak up on everyone.
Yeah, man, Hallelujah. I told everybody that it was originally going to come out February 25th and this was not going to be no push back. A lot of people kind of doubted and a lot of people wondered. Even though it was on a Monday, it was who cares, because I put this out 100% independent, by myself. So it doesn’t matter about the day. But everything was meditated on the date to now so everything coincided with each other.
It also seems like you’re approaching this from a perspective that first week sales don’t matter so much as a long, slow burn.
Exactly. That’s the joy of doing things by yourself. When you’re doing it all independent, it’s all on you and it’s all hands-on. As soon as I did this, you can do it again. You can press how many you want and if you go with a major or some of these labels, they’re ready to move on and they don’t see it. I’ve always done my own videos anyways. I gotta big up my man Origin. I got a team that does my own videos. This is something that I just feel good about. When it’s on you, you can just push it as long as you want. That’s why there’s 41 songs on there. 41.
Fans are definitely getting their money’s worth like this, maybe a little too much! (laughs) I don’t wanna hear no complaints on this. I’m the CEO and I’m the label on this. We’re doing this 100%. When you have real artists who love and enjoy music as much as the fans, you know, you just get love. We’re one and the same on this. There’s no, like GZA said, no electric guitar mountain climbers. Who’s the A&R? (laughs)
I A&R’d the whole thing. I want to big up my team A.D. He helped me and ESL. It was us on there.
You’ve gone the major route, the indie route, and now you’re doing this 100% on your own. What made you want to do this by yourself?
Let me explain this to everybody. I was offered a couple of deals and that’s what took me so long. It kind of took me off a little bit. I had offers and stuff like that and I would negotiate with them. But all of these companies wanted to cheat my fans. This was their precise words, “Oh, you’re going to do a double? Why give out music like that? Why not do one and one?” I always thought they was being cheap because they didn’t want to press up another CD. What’s another CD in these days? Another five cents, some pennies? If you got the money, spend it. I always felt like I was cheating my fans because I told them it was a double album. I sat down with a couple labels and i ain’t gonna say no names, but we negotiated and one was taking too long, like a couple of months. They’re setting up deals and then when I saw the contract, it wasn’t as good. I always felt like I had a strong team, like 730 also, who coached me through this, and Gazi also. I always felt like I could do this by myself. Also Tha Advocate too. Cats was just telling me things I could do myself because we already got the name. I built with Starks on this too.
You’ve been touring with Ghostface a lot too. What’s your relationship like with him today?
Yeah, that’s my brother right there. We’re going to end up doing an album. We’re working on a lot of stuff. We’re on the road and we write down a lot of ideas. He’s very supportive of the album. I have tears in my eyes. We were on tour in Canada and let me say this. For a lot of people out there, I’m glad everybody’s got their albums now. I make sure if you pay for it I make sure that you get it. We finally got it on Amazon. When we first started the tour, I was actually doing a show in place of Inspectah Deck in Canada. So when I went out there, it was three days ahead of Ghost getting there. He wanted me on the tour. And the same day that the CDs were done, I was leaving and I had to go pick up my CDs and it was too far. The plane was right there. You know, it was just too far, man. Word. All the way down by San Diego or something. It was too far so I didn’t even have the CDs on the road, but that’s what made it so wild. Through my team, I got it delivered. My team delivered the CDs.
And Ghost helped me a lot. He’s very supportive. We’re going to do an album. We’ve already recorded together. That’s my brother right there.
Some of the biggest legends of hip-hop, 2Pac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, and of course Wu-Tang, all had a double-disc release. Was this something you felt like you needed to do?
Yeah. It hit me one day, like boom, I want to give the fans something special. I wanted to do this. I always wanted to do an album using my name anyway. I said after this I’ll use my government name. It was just the perfect timing. I just started recording, man, right after Behind the Stained Glass and in the midst of Elizabeth and all those albums were going on. I started hinting that I wanted to do this album and that I had to focus on it. I did mixtapes, I did Untold Stories, The 3 Day Theory, those things were coming out. It was just a lot of material here and there. I didn’t want to stop flooding the streets, but that was what’s happening. I was always focused on this album and that’s what was happening. I wanted to record this and stick to the concept and make sure that everything I wanted to do was in this. I wanted people to know who Walter Reed from the Planet of a Million Years was.
It’s been a couple years since you dropped an album. How do you view your fanbase today?
I don’t really even be concentrating on that as much, but I know that I’ve never really outdid myself because I always felt like there’s always room, and that’s what the motivation is. I’m not burning myself out. I’m not doing too much because the window of opportunity is so wide. I look at it like, ‘You know what? If I keep my style fresh and young, then that’s how it’ll always be. That’s how it’ll always be.’ I work with people who have an open mind and they’re already elevated and I caught up to them and hopefully I’ve passed them so they can catch up to me now. (laughs) Word. The younger generation who’s getting on it, even my son, he would always rap “Salvation” to me. That put me on the right perspective. I embrace the new generation as they embrace Priest, but I think that’s just something that they need to hear.
In my opinion, this is an album of classic Priest with dark beats behind deep, spiritual jewels and conspiracy theories. What was your mindspace like making this album?
First, I want to say thank you. I went in there focused. My mindstate was to give them raw all the way through. Just give them raw Priest. I wanted to touch on subjects that be on my mind. There’s a lot of stuff that always be on my mind. It’s just different types of stories and different types of themes. It just comes from everywhere. It comes from the inner core of just my mind being so much of a circus. I look at this and I look at that. It’s something like a dark circus and I wanted to fulfill those parts that was in my mind. I wanted to fulfill this act. I wasn’t going to hold back. I was going to do something that I wanted to do and introduce them to concepts that I wanted to do. It’s a whole bunch of things, man, and I just did it. I would not compromise. I just stuck to raw hip-hop, raw Priest. I just stuck to something that I grew up on and it basically came from a dark shadow of my mind, from the pit of it, and that’s what’s at the heart of it.
After listening to “Lord Marduk,” I gotta ask. What’s going on with you and Cilvaringz?
This is the first and last time I’m going to talk about this. In 2012 Cilvaringz hit me up to be on his album and I saw it as an opportunity for my album also. We had a conversation, real light, over the phone and I came out to NY, my hometown, but in the contract, I told him, “Listen, here’s the contact. I’ll do the verse if you can put a banner up on Wu-Tang Corp. Just help me out and support. Show me that you want to support me as much as you want me to support you. You know, one hand wash the other.” He had agreed to that. He said, “Oh yeah.” I wouldn’t do nothing until that was in the contract. It was all love, but I wanted to keep it business too. I did my part and we created the contract. My man Gee was there. He made the contract and he sent it to me. I read it and I had my lawyers see it and whatever. It was in there. Okay, fine. I’ll do the verse and you make sure you put that banner up there. I do the verse and this dude never, ever contacted me again, even when I was leaving. I wanted to stay a couple of extra days. he never got back in touch with me. I never heard from him ever again. As much as I tried to contact him, he stopped answering the phone.
And the person he had working, he said, “I don’t know, Priest. He’s just acting like a bitch right now.” Even the dude that was working with him was saying that He wasn’t answering the phone and I never spoke to him and that shit was just eating at me, man. It’s like, that dude’s a fake and he’s lying. Even when they said my album was dropping, he never picked up the phone and asked me about it and asked if I was good and if I needed him to do anything. He didn’t give me no information. So time goes by and time goes by and it dawned on me, man, Cilvaringz is fake and he’s a liar. He’s all about the music but he’s not really about being a man of his word or looking out for his brother like he say he is. So one day I was doing a track and I just expressed it. It’s all love. Everything I said was the truth and I felt like I said all that was needed to say. It’s one and it’s done. I let it out there.
So he got the word and called me up and said, “I heard you dissed me on the track.” I told him it wasn’t even a diss. It’s real life. I just said it and you can take it for what it is. But that’s exactly what happened and I’m not lying. He’s a liar. But all of a sudden, after he heard that I dissed him, he’s calling me a lot and I saw how he could pick up the phone and call me when it was about his personal self. That’s what I don’t like about brothers like that. It’s not about selling records. It’s about keeping up with each other. We’re older now and we’re in a different state. Don’t play with me like that. He’s a liar and that’s the truth. He says he’s a man of his word but he lied to me, and that was it. And for everybody out there, that’s exactly what happened. CIlvaringz, just practice what you preach and don’t lie to real dudes because that shit’s going to come back on you and a cat like me, I’m not going to have that. I came at him like a brother and he tried that bullshit. Get that industry bullshit out of you and be real and holla at cats. And that goes out to the Wu-Tang Nation out there. I was talking about Cilvaringz on there. Word up.
It seems like you still have strong relationships with members of the Wu-Tang. Do you think a part of that reason is because you were so close to the group but never an official member, so you were able to avoid some of the internal politics that hurt the group?
Definitely. Definitely. Definitely it did. I always felt like I was a brother on this side, like a Wu-Tang member. I said it in “Process of Man.” I was with Wu-Tang from the beginning. I was there. I battled for brothers. I went to war. I put in a lot of work. It used to get to me. I was with RZA the whole time. He used to bring me with him when he was politicking and it used to bother me a little bit back then that I never got that recognition. Ghost told me I never got that recognition. But it just helped me become stronger. It’s like a lot of people say I’m a Wu affiliate. No. I’m Wu-Tang for real. I’ve been over to brother’s cribs. I know brothers. I was there amongst the fights. It comes right back to me and they say if you love something let it go and it’ll come back and it does. I got in arguments with cats, it was just like a family. (laughs)
And since I was always pushed out by the majors and the Wu-Tang majors, like they told me I couldn’t go to Japan and I was hurt by all of those things. It just motivated me to keep going strong. I just kept my torch lit and it just inspired me. I sort of have a chip on my shoulder, I’m not going to lie, but that’s what keeps me spitting raw, until they recognize.
Are you happy with where you stand with Wu-Tang today?
Definitely. I feel real good. I couldn’t be in a better place, man. I couldn’t be in a better place. I guess until they stamp it and put me in graduation and say, “Priest is the new member,” (laughs) I’m getting those checks at the shows and it’s all good. But that’s where real good brothers like Ghost come in, standing up for me. Raekwon came through on the album. Everybody came through. Even RZA came through and blessed me with the beats.
I also feel like I got a lot of freedom. I can just take my music and I don’t have to listen to nobody. I can take the advice and I can take positive advice and I can use it how I want. I can kind of put it on a scale and decide if I want to do this and take that advice, I can do that. I can take RZA’s advice and Ghost’s advice and if Rae says this, I can do that . He told me to just put it out.
I feel like I’m in a place where a lot of people know about me already. I feel like I’m a phantom, like Priest never really exists. I’m like a mystery. When you go and look for the Priest, I’m there. Priest is the phantom. He’s the cat that’s always there. He swings his sword. I’m just that younger brother. When they go down, there’s always this cat standing there. I just try to keep my sword sharp. I keep it up. But when you come through my chamber, it ain’t gonna be no running through. I keep it that way. It’s called retarded strength of a Super Saiyan. Just become a Super Saiyan, Level 10.
Where do you think The Psychic World of Walter Reed stands in your discography?
Oh, it’s up there, man. It’s way up there. I don’t even want to get into it. My boy told me, “Priest, I think you outdid yourself.” It’s definitely up there. It’s totally different. It’s on there. I went there on this album. This time, unlike Heavy Mental, where Heavy Mental I was in the studio by myself with 4th (Disciple). This one, I’m older and more wiser. I can look at Heavy Mental sort of like how Kobe looks at Jordan. Just like, ‘Okay, I can make these moves. Wow.’ I can make this move and it’s like that. It’s for the future and it’s in a class by itself. There’s so much material. How is Heavy Mental, The Offering, and Behind the Stained Glass going to get together? They’ve gotta come together to stop the power. They didn’t have the strength behind them. This one has the strength! (laughs)
I would put it towards the top. But with this one, man, I don’t even know. I don’t even watn to say, but I think it surpasess all of them. It’s strong. I don’t want to say that right now, but it’s up there. And there’s still a lot of cats swinging their swords and we’re going uphill.
What did you think of the Wu-Block album?
It’s hot. The beats are ridiculous. the rhymes are ridiculous. WHen I first heard it I knew it was going to be dope. I knew it was going to be the shit. Big up to Sheek Louch. That’s my dude. We’re on tour together. Shout out to the whole Lox and stuff. The time right now, with where everything’s going, I think that door’s opening up and the Wu-Block is another statement. Boom. If we keep chipping away at the knees of this industry, it’s going to fall. They have this real soft rap going on right now. It’s just soft. The styles are just soft.
Who are you listening to today?
Man, every time somebody asks me that, I’ll try my hardest to answer that. Just the cats that are going out there and doing it. Let me see. I’m going to think hard. (pause) I don’t know what this dude’s name is, man. Shit, man, I don’t remember his name, man. There’s a lot of underground heads that’s spitting right now. My boys put me on to a lot of the new cats. I’m feeling Roc Marciano. He’s got some stuff. Tragic Allies. I forgot the other dude’s name, man. I like everybody who’s spitting that raw stuff. There’s this cat from Brooklyn, man. My boys just put me on. I don’t know why I can’t think of his name right now. It’s crazy. But I don’t even listen to everything. I just listen to real, raw stuff. Real, raw stuff.
No doubt. How’s Hell Razah doing?
Oh, we’re great. I talk to Razah all the time. Every day he hits me up and we talk. Shabazz too. Me and Shabazz is at our best. That’s my boy right there. We were out in Cali for a while and we were thinking about putting together our album. That ain’t no problem. We’re great. I’m good with everybody, man.
Do you think a new Sunz of Man album could happen? Would 60 Second Assassin and Prodigal Sunn be down?
Hell yeah! That would be something magical. We gotta do something with Razah. That would be something magical. I’ve been trying to look for 60. Prodigal is on the album. He’s on the skit. When I was playing songs for cats they thought they heard the entire album and they would tell me it was hot and to keep it on the album! (laughs)
What’s the next move for you now that The Psychic World of Walter Reed is out?
I worked so hard. Whatever the offer was that I was going to get, it wasn’t going to be equal to what this album is and having cats like Raekwon come through. It was like they didn’t respect it. Cats is worth a lot. Inspectah Deck is one of the killer spitters. Ghost is killing it. Even RZA is on there! Shout out to the RZA. He came through on there too.
And believe it or not, man, I got another album out after this. It’s Planet of the Gods that’s coming out. I don’t want to talk too much about that, but I got this joint with DJ Woool that’s crazy. It’s already done and it’s like Untold Stories of Walter Reed, it’s like Elizabeth, and The Psychic World of Walter Reed and it’s called Castle Hop. It’s crazy. It’s all new music. Nobody never heard this. Also I’m working with Godz Wrath and doing Planet of the Gods. St. Peter is coming through. Planet of the Gods is going to be the continuation of the madness. Also I’ll be working on getting some more magical guests on there. Everybody that’s going to be spitting on there is going to be some hard stuff. It’s going to be real hard. And shout out to my team the Anakim Anthidium Army!