8 Diagrams is finally out. How do you feel about that?
We should have released five albums by now, but you know, it’s all good to still be loved and appreciated and anticipated like that. That’s the best feeling about this whole thing for me right now.
Five years is a long time to go without releasing an album. Was there too much of a layover between Iron Flag and 8 Diagrams?
For me and in my opinion, I would say yeah. But you know, I’m not the one who runs things. I just played my part as an MC on this one.
Did playing your part as an MC include giving RZA your creative input and making suggestions?
I played my part as an MC. This was a vision that RZA had, like 36 Chambers was a vision that he had. We had the faith in him to basically do what he does to the extent of how he does it. Pretty much, that’s what he did. My input wasn’t asked of me. Creatively, that’s really, like, out the window on this album. This was like you had Beethoven and niggas who played guitars and shit. There’s only room for one conductor, man.
It doesn’t seem as though every Clan member has that same faith in RZA that you have. Why do you think that is?
It’s not that everybody doesn’t have the faith. We know RZA away from music, so I know what he’s capable of on and off the field. It’s never a question of faith or anything like that. It’s just more a question of decision-making now that we’re grown. It’s about making the right decision and smart decisions because bad choices can kill you nowadays.
We’ve been a group that’s been under fire for a long time as well. We’re loved and hated. We’re loved for the same reasons we’re hated. So I look at this album, after a layoff of five years, as showing your faith. It’s like the dude you grew up with and moved away from you. You haven’t seen him in five years and when you first see him, it’s going to tell how he’s been living for the past five years. If his face is dirty, you’re going to be looking at him like, ‘What have you been doing all this time?’ I’m not saying we’re like that, but in this real glossy, glossy, glossy industry, it’s like we’re a piece of coal right now. And it’s good and bad. We’re the diamond in its rawest form but the people are misled and blinded by that shine. It just makes it hard, man.
Doing what we do, we have to overpower and redirect dudes’ mindstates, man, whether it’s the fans or the next generation or even just the music industry, which we helped shape to what it is now. It’s taking that motto and that mindset and bringing it back to where that is. There’s so much talent on the street and there’s so much good shit that you will never hear because of these big robots, these robotic dudes who are sucking up everything and making it hard for the independents. It hurts me a lot because there’s a lot riding on this. It’s bigger than us. It’s a hip-hop population that’s buying this album. We know. There’s a generation or population that’s rooting for us. It’s almost like being in a stadium at the Super Bowl and you have your home fans and the stadium is loud and everything. On the first play, you don’t want to throw an interception or turn the ball over because that’s how you lose. That’s how I’m looking at it and I could be wrong, but for this album, man, I think RZA in his creative genius, he took it to a level where he saw himself at. This is a vision that he had, unlike with 36 Chambers, where I saw that vision.
This album, I didn’t really see that vision because I’m still stuck on the core fans who got us to this point. I’m not really interested to cater to the new fans we met in Hollywood and all this, that and the third. If you wanna take it back and you wanna redirect the mindset, you have to do what you originally did because these fans are lost. This music and this generation is lost. If that’s the aim, then you gotta really come hard, man, because this generation’s teenagers are smarter than my generation’s teenagers. 16 year-olds today know what I knew at 22. We told them to stick together and that “clan” means “family”. We gave them guidelines all day with Supreme Clientele and The Purple Tape, Cuban Linx and everything that we’ve done, man.
So to really be at this level and the core is hyped about this album and it’s about a Beatles song. It’s not really about us. It’s about the Beatles. I don’t know, man. Maybe I ain’t seeing it, but it is what it is. I played my part as an MC. I really didn’t have any creative input. I didn’t have any direction to the album. I came in here as Inspectah Deck from Wu-Tang Clan. But if you want to hear creative input and ideas from Deck, you have to catch the Resident Patient album or catch the Part 2 that I’m doing now that’s dropping after this. That’s how I have to get my shit off. I’m one of the most underrated dudes of all-time, if you ask me. Not because I didn’t sell a million records. I didn’t have proper promotion for a lot of my shit, so you know, it is what it is. But that’s my opinion on that album. It’s not my lyrical best because I had to deal with what was put in front of me. I wasn’t really inspired by a lot of the tracks. And I can say that because this is nothing that I haven’t said to RZA already.
You don’t think you killed “Unpredictable”?
Yeah, but that wasn’t how the beat originally sounded and a few other elements…I’m not here to bicker or punch holes in my product. I’m just telling you what’s real with me and I’m not biting my tongue and I’m not trying to front on y’all. I support Wu-Tang 100%. This album was not my greatest and I don’t think it’s our greatest because of the direction that we went. But on the other hand, that’s RZA. He had that vision and he had that vision with 36 Chambers and we’re here now because of that. So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this will be the album that the world was waiting for to come from the Clan and this will restore our history and restore our legacy and put it on top. Maybe that’s that album. I don’t think so.
Could 8 Diagrams be one of those albums that take awhile to sink in before fans see the greatness in it?
Maybe. It’s definitely going to take them some time to do whatever they’re going to do; if they’re going to get used to it or if they’re going to get familiar with it or if they’re going to hate on it, it’s all in a matter of time. For me, personally, and like I said, I’m only speaking for me, I’ve been born and raised on this Wu-Tang shit before Wu-Tang. In the womb, I was born with this shit. When it comes down to this, I know how to do that. I can’t give y’all my best if I’m not feeling a certain level. If you hear certain tracks and you wonder why Deck is not on this or why Deck isn’t on that, it’s not about that. Me, myself, I can’t perform and just act like I’m feeling this shit just to rhyme on it and just to get the job done and just to get the check. I could never do that. You might get the money but your name is on it and it’s unsatisfactory. Now my name would have to live with that mark on it.
You mentioned how your verse on “Unpredictable” was done over a different beat than the one that made 8 Diagrams. Is it hard as an MC to bring your best over a beat that you know isn’t good enough to go on the album?
It’s tough when you don’t know that’s going to happen. It’s tough when you write to something and you say the rhyme to something and then you come back and it’s something totally different. Yeah, that’s tough even though it’s happened in the past. Some of it has been successful, some of it hasn’t. But I’m not here to nitpick about this whole album. I’m just telling you my personal feelings. I didn’t like it. I like Ghost’s album better than the Wu-Tang album and I can say that because I’m fucking Wu-Tang. I’m keeping it real with the fans. When you see me on the street, I’m not concerned with being no rapper like that. I want to be bigger and more legendary than my solo career has allowed me to be and I know I can be. It takes the right positioning. If the Wu-Tang album has some sort of success, that would be a springboard for me to resurrect my solo career, man, which has been in the dungeons for a few years. I can’t capitalize off of that.
My babies can’t look forward to uncertainty, man, so I need to be sure. And I’m unsure. If you ask me, this is one of the first times that I’ve ever been questioning my own shit. But I’m only being aware of the times and looking at the times and the situation at where we’re at in hip-hop now .Are the people going to accept Wu-Tang trying to be as big or bigger than the Beatles or is Hollywood going to accept Wu-Tang or are we going to be looked at as rock stars? Those are not my dreams or goals so that is unimportant to me. I don’t worry about being looked at as a rock star. Listen, I did a song with Blondie and in two days, got a phone call and performed on The American Music Awards with her for “Who’s Gonna Cry” with me, U-God and Mobb Deep. I don’t have no problem doing that and I go wherever my music takes me.
But the album sounds slow, man. The album is slow. Everything is dragged out. There’s two head-nodding, Wu-Tang, side-splittin’, karate-choppin’ shit. For the die-hard fans that loved us from day one, I feel bad for them. That’s who I’m really speaking for. I’m not talking about the new fans we’re trying to make right now. Maybe fucking Tom Brady will show up to the concert because we did the Wu-Tang/Beatles shit. (laughs) I’m not concerned with that shit.
The backpack generation has been forgotten about. I’m concerned with getting them and the skateboarders, like the Lupe Fiasco’s of the world. Let’s give the young generation something to really , really hold onto, some knowledge, which it’s always gonna be. But the radio don’t play our shit. Is going this route going to guarantee that the radio will play our shit 60 times a day like the rest of that bullshit? Who knows, man? I don’t think so. I’m thinking after five years out the game, Wu-Tang needs to come back on a fucking tank like the A-Team. That’s how I’m thinking we have to come in the game and seize it from the rest of these clowns. We’re coming in kind of passive to me. We’re coming in like, ‘Hey, how are you doing? It’s okay with your bullshit. We’re just going to go over here and do our thing.’ You know what I mean? We have a responsibility to the hip-hop nation who are relying on us to change things once again like we did when we first came in. And it’s bigger than us, man. The responsibility lies on our shoulders and we’re the only ones who have been accepted to do it.
Will the hardcore Wu-Tang fans be unsatisfied with 8 Diagrams?
That’s my thoughts. That’s the thing I think about. Damn, the hardcore fans who got W tattoos on their neck or the GZA logo or the Deck logo or the Meth logo and whether they’re in France, Belgium, Puerto Rico or Chicago, or the ones with Wu-Tang Clan logos on their car or they kept their shirt from 1992 in crisp condition. Those dudes, and females too, what about them? They’re the ones that ain’t buying that bullshit. Now if we give them something worth buying, maybe some artists will go platinum again, like the Talib Kweli’s of the world and the Boot Camp’s of the world who should be going platinum because they’re doing hip-hop, not this fashion show, car show shit that everybody is turning to. But in all respect, man, hip-hop is growing at a rate that nobody’s going to stop. Its influence is here everyday in the commercials. You can sell Honey Nut Cheerios rhyming. Cadillac commercials have beats that could be on niggas’ albums. It’s real.
Will Smith was concerned in I, Robot that the robots were taking over. It’s going to get to the point where hardcore rappers are extinct because they don’t need hardcore rappers. They’re trying to ban all of that. They’re trying to ban the truth. They’re trying to ban all the reality and all the harshness. They’re trying to get everybody to fantasize about this life that isn’t there like Bentley’s and mansions and Rolex’s. But that ain’t there. Only one in a million gets that.
How do you feel when artists who make that kind of music cite Wu-Tang as one of their influences?
I give the real dudes love. I give the ‘90s generation, no matter where you was from, East, West, South, Midwest, West, it don’t matter because everybody was cracking at one time. I’m not hating on the rap generation. I’m talking about these clown overnight-sensation shit that dominates the radio and dominates the video and they’re selling ringtones all day. It’s like, ‘Yo, man, this shit is ridiculously done.’ It’s blaxploitation in a different way.
Soulja Boy is an example of someone who posted a song online, quickly got a record deal and an album in stores and is now a Grammy-nominated artist. Are you surprised at how quickly artists can obtain success today?
Come on, man. That’s what I’m talking about. And it ain’t knocking son’s hustle, because he might be a legitimate dude who came from where we came from and worked his way up. It’s not to knock his hustle, but it’s looking at the industry and the fans and we have to look at each other, like ‘How does this shit happen, yo?’ How does a nigga come out of nowhere and get it to pop off where a nigga can be putting in work for years and has been getting respect and has been getting love and is not wack, how does he not achieve those numbers within the years that he’s put in when compared to the overnight wonder?
It’s like, that’s the problem right there. The problem is the fans. It’s the motherfuckers walking in the stores and spending that $10, $20. It’s not the rapper no more. You can make whatever kind of music you want to make, man. It’s whatever out there, but it’s the consumer. Hip-hop is outselling country right now. It’s like, ‘Damn, man, hip-hop is powerful!’ That’s why everybody from the government to the churches are trying to get their hands on hip-hop. Everybody’s trying to get their hands on hip-hop.
I’m always going to have a job doing what I do, but they’re not interested in the Wu-Tang’s of the world because we’re the ones that have the true message and we’re the ones that are trying to wake the people up. We’ll party and dance with you but the moral of the story with us is to wake up your mind, man, and they don’t need revolutionary groups anymore. They don’t want you to be somebody that stands for something anymore. It’s like, ‘Fuck that, you’re wearing this because we paid for this wardrobe and we paid for this stylist and that’s it. You do whatever the fuck we tell you to. We’re spending this money on you.’ They’re recouping and they’re giving you advances to keep you blinded.
We’re in the middle of all that right now and we’re dropping an album in the midst of all of that. This is just the first floor of a 100-story building. We’re dropping in the midst of all this chaos and we’re still trying to maintain our integrity to the ones that got us there. This shit is real to me. I got kids. I have to feed my family off of this shit because I’m not getting a 9-5.
With the changing industry, how does Inspectah Deck and Wu-Tang move forward?
What I did with the Resident Patient that I have on Traffic Entertainment, I went straight to the internet and Part 2 will be available on the internet. That might be sent straight from my house. I might be licking the envelopes. That might be my job for a year. You can order that shit from me. That’s how that goes. I’ll put it up on MySpace and all those friend sites and do it like that. If you sell 50,000, you’re still making half a mill. I’ll go straight to the fans and eliminate the middle man, straight American Gangster style! (laughs) You know what I mean?
How’s Resident Patient Part 2 coming?
Resident Patient 2 is coming nice, man. I got outside production. I got different people coming in, not to mention that I’m doing production myself. It’s all ground-level entertainment. It’s Urban Icon Records. I’m doing what I’m doing. I have a few groups in the making right now, but they’re not ready. They’re in training, so in the future you’ll hear that. After Resident Patient 2, you’ll hear The Rebellion, which is still going to be my final album. It’s still going to be RZA-produced. It’s still going to have the Wu-Tang elements. What I’m dealing with is from my level of it. RZA will tell you all day, some brothers are more famous than others, but when it comes to the Clan as a whole, we’re all looked at as a whole. So I’m not just saying it for me and looking out for me, to the die-hard fans, I care about y’all and it makes me wonder, ‘Damn, are we taking care of them and are we taking care of the ones who we know are going to spend their $10 for the CD and once they buy it are they just going to put it on the shelf next to the other 12 that they got? Will they even listen to it?’ They might leave it in the wrapper and shit. I’m thinking about y’all. I’m thinking about this generation that’s coming up, who’s buying these young dudes. It’s like, ‘Yo, man, you’re not going to have nothing.’
Some of the songs that were made 10 years ago, it hits you now like how corny it is. If you pull out any Wu-Tang shit, it’s going to hit you in a different way. It doesn’t sound like nothing else. Just the awkwardness of it is going to hit your. I’m concerned with that. I could be paranoid. I smoke a lot. I might be paranoid. I might be thinking, ‘It’s all a dream.’ I put my faith in son to do that. It was never a question of faith. It was more or less, ‘What are you going to do, man? I hear you talking, but what are you going to do?’ It’s always like that. ‘I’m with you 100%, but what’s popping though?’
Will The Rebellion really be your last album?
Yeah. The Rebellion is going to be my last album, man. The Resident Patient was more of a mix album. The Movement was on Koch. That was an underrated album that didn’t get promoted, but it still sold. I feel okay, man. I can still keep my lights on and do what I need to do, so it’s all going to be good with me. I just hope that this one is the album that niggas want. After five years in the game and after hearing a whole bunch of redundant shit over and over, is this the album that they want to hear? Me being the Inspectah, I’m just skeptical, man.
You mentioned you had some groups in the works. A few years ago, there was talk of you, GZA and Masta Killa forming a group. How come that never happened?
We were going to do an album together, but we can’t do it without the rest of the crew like that. It’s not like we could just branch off and do that. I would rather do it with three people I don’t know, because when it comes to us, our power comes when we all align. And we know that, so we were like, ‘Fuck it, man, I ain’t gonna do that.’ We all came to the decision like, ‘You know what? You do your album and I’ll jump on that.’ We all jumped on each other’s albums instead and we did what we needed to do. I think if we would have put that three out, I think it would have sold. I think people would have wanted another joint with Meth on it or they would have been calling for a Meth, Ghost and Rae album. We brought that all to the table at one time. At different times, people were with it. Mentally, it just died off and we all did our thing anyway.
Is your group House Gang still together?
Yeah, House Gang is still a group. They branched off and they have another group under them called Loose Linx. I’m still into that and I’m still doing production with Urban Icon Records. Everything is grinding out and it’s moving slow, but it’s moving. That’s the whole thing. You can look forward to that shit in the new year. I guarantee you’re going to hear The Rebellion and Resident Patient Part 2 and I might throw in a bonus mixtape with 30 freestyles. You can definitely look forward to that shit on the internet only. I don’t know if you’ll even be able to buy my next shit in stores. That’s how I’m going to do it.
You’ve proven you have skill in producing. Will you be dropping more beats in the future?
Yeah. I just got me a whole little rig now, so I’m set up to do a lot more production than I’ve ever done. Just being on the run and trying to do the album together and being an MC, it’s hard to do both at one time. I was never highly skilled at it. I used to watch RZA, 4th Disciple and Tru Master and I got better at it. I’m definitely doing another album with my own production on it. You’ll be hearing from me soon. I never really had a whole lot of tracks to give away to a whole lot of people. I kept it in the family.
Getting back to 8 Diagrams, “My Heart Gently Weeps” was publicized like crazy. Was “My Heart Gently Weeps” the wrong single to promote?
To me, as a b-boy, hip-hop, early ‘90s, born and raised, I think it’s the wrong move. It’s feeding the people what they want and remembering who you are. But other than that, I understand it from a business standpoint. If I’m the one spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and major money is on this, then I can see where you’re trying to make a direct impact, like you can put this song out and it’s going to strike enough new people where we can possibly have outstanding first-week sales. I understand what that translates to.
But those outstanding first-week sales are not the real fans, man. You know? Those are the new fans we got based on doing a song with the Beatles. After that song, what do you do then? You have to take care of the core. I always say that, man. That’s why kings get thrown off the fucking thrones, man, because of the people revolting, man. I guess that’s why I’m the Rebel, man. I always feel a certain way.
“Life Changes” is an emotional tribute song to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Was that a hard song for you to record?
For me, it was because I was looking at it like, ‘Man, this shit can be me.’ Dirty is me. Dirty passing is me passing in a way. Part of this whole crew died. The persona, the mystique behind Wu-Tang, a lot of shit died with Dirty. I’m Inspectah. I see that. I see that mentally, way off in the distance, off the fucking planet somewhere. I can’t explain it to you, man. That’s how it is. It’s like, the whole downfall that we’ve been having since then has been happening because there was no unity between us, no communication and there was a lot going on. Everybody just got separated and went out and did their own thing. The devil took one of us.
I thought that that would bring us together and make everything tighter, which it has. It’s brought us together, but it’s like, I look at it like, ‘Why wait to have a party on a fucking birthday?’ We have to always be like that because it can happen to any one of us again and I don’t want it to be me and I don’t want it to be no one else. So I’m just like, ‘Yo, we need to get our shit together and if we’re going to record an album, let’s do it for real because the people are depending on this shit more than we think.’ And I will continue to say that, man.
The people need what we have to say. They need to hear it because they’re tired of the other shit. There are only so many cars you can buy, and mansions and guns. There’s only so much. There’s only so much. There’s only so many people you can kill in one rhyme. Some people are killing four people a verse. It’s getting redundant, man. (laughs) It’s real. That’s why I laugh, because I know that the people want the shit that Wu-Tang comes with, like the “Rainy Dayz”, the “Incarcerated Scarface”’s, the “Better Tomorrow”’s, the “Ice Cream”s and the “Ice Water”. They want Cappadonna’s “The Pillage” and “Rec Room”. They want the “Triumph”’s. I can go on for days. They want “Shame On A Nigga”. They want that. They don’t want to hear the motherfucker who just got his deal yesterday and in his first video, he has the Bentley and the jewelry. I don’t want to see that no more.
How do you think 8 Diagrams would be different if Dirty had a say in it?
It would just have some life to it because I know Dirty would feel the same way I’m feeling. This shit is boring! This shit is putting me to sleep. Dirt Dog never bit his tongue. That’s one thing about me. I won’t bite my tongue, but a lot of times, I might not say nothing. This isn’t moving me like that. I just don’t like it. That’s all that means. It doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. So the fans understand directly what I’m saying, I have faith in RZA to do what he do, so I come in and play my part as an MC. But as far as my personal opinion, which relates to me and only me, I don’t feel that this is our greatest shit or the shit that niggas want to hear at this stage in the game from us. I feel like we have to give them a newer, better album such as the new Ghost album. I’m not saying that’s the truth either. I’m just saying that his album sounds like what a Wu-Tang album should sound like, but it’s him by himself. So he’s going to do well because he kept with the formula. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t hear no Beatles shit on there. He’s signed to one of the biggest machines out there. If they have faith in that sound, I’m pretty sure that the fans would have faith in that sound as well.
In your verse on “Life Changes”, you say you should have helped ODB when he was in trouble but that you were selfish. That’s an extremely heavy burden to bear.
That’s why you hear me talking the way I’m talking right now because this rap shit really doesn’t mean nothing to me like that, man. Life means more. And I’m like, ‘Damn, man, maybe if we could have really reached out more’ because I knew what he was doing and he knew what I was doing. I smoke. I smoke a lot of weed. Sometimes you need that person to come to you and as much as you may hate it, like, ‘Get away from me, stop telling me that,’ sometimes you need that person to get on your nerves like, ‘Put that shit down. You don’t need that.’
I feel like we need to be there for each other despite the fact that we’re grown men and we have different lives. But the lives that we have now, we built our lives on each other. The life I have now with my two kids and my cars, I built that on the backs of my brothers as well as myself. That’s my life. We need to be more in-tune like that and I think that’s what shows on the album, man. That’s just my opinion. I’m not trying to discourage nobody from going to get it. Go get it and support a nigga and help a nigga keep his lights on. I don’t have no hits on the chart. I keep it funky. I keep it funky with y’all all the time.
Wu-Tang is my biggest success story and if they fail, I fail. And I can’t tolerate failure at this stage of my life. I’ll ride with you, man, but I’m so skeptical that I have three eyes open on everything. I’m not getting caught up by little write-ups in Rolling Stone or DJs that say this is the greatest. Nah. I’ll see what it translates to when we compare the numbers to the other artists who the fans say they’re tired of. If you’re turned of all that commercial, Bentley-talking bullshit and you have an alternative now and you don’t support that, then you’re full of shit. You don’t want nothing new. You’re satisfied and you’re content with that stupidity. So don’t come at me sideways when you see me in the street and ask me why I don’t do that because I don’t shuck and jive. I don’t do the Hollywood Shuffle. If you’re looking for a motherfucker to have his shirt off in the video with his chest wet, you’re looking at the wrong dude, man.
There are only a handful, if that many, of artists today with that kind of perspective on music.
You know what it is for me, man? It made my career. It kept my career at a certain level. Me being the Rebel that I am, I could have sold millions. I could have done the shit that you see everybody else doing, but I just never allowed myself to be outside of myself. I grew up listening to the Curtis Mayfield’s, the Marvin Gaye’s and the Willie Hutchinson’s. Listening to that music kept me in a certain mindframe. I watched a lot of blaxploitation movies like Hell up in Harlem. You can name it. The style that I developed came from the ‘709s. You had to be cool. That’s what I do for dudes. I’ll take you on a walk to the corner store. Let’s go for a walk to the corner store and from the house to the store, somebody done got shot, the fire truck and ambulance came, there’s a car crash, somebody got robbed, a baby was born and somebody graduated, all within the hour. That’s what I bring to the table and anybody that knows about Uncontrolled Substance, The Movement, Resident Patient and even Part 2, that’s what you’re going to get from me. You mighty get a couple of dance tracks and club joints and some female joints because you have to mix it up, but for the most part, I give you tales from the ‘hood for real.
A lot of fans say you consistently outshine other Clan members on songs. How does it feel hearing that?
That sucks. That sucks, man. That sucks to hear everyday that you’re the illest and that you’re the fucking illest and it doesn’t translate to record sales or the numbers. It don’t translate to that. So what is it? I don’t make songs? I figured it out. I don’t have the right kind of promotion or the right push. I don’t have the right people. So when I do this next solo album, man, I’m doing it straight to the fucking internet. You buy it right from me and you can feel good knowing that Deck mailed it to you. Yeah, Deck has your credit card information and I mailed it to you personally. It feels good knowing that. I’m going to autograph each and every one of those shits. I’m going to do stuff that heads don’t do nowadays. I’m going to show you that I’m on your level and that I’m not no superstar. It feels good doing that. Fuck a label and a marketing team. You don’t need that shit. There’s 10 billion people on the internet daily. If you can get 1% of that, you can feed your family for years.
Are you more accessible to fans today through MySpace and other online outlets?
Yeah. Now I understand the business part of it. I’ve been working on my businesses and doing what I do on the low. I don’t have any hits on the low and you haven’t seen any Deck albums out there. I have a lot of things going on. But for the most part, it’s hard to live with hearing that you have so much potential and that you’re the illest and it never translates. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to put my shit into a book. A poetry book with all my rhymes of shit that you haven’t heard. I have rhyme books that my mom done found in her old crib. I have mad poetry and I’m going to put it in a book so people can really see what I’m talking about.
I’m going to call it something controversial too. Motherfuckers are running with this “Greatest Lyricist of All-Time” and I want to challenge that. Being the Greatest Lyricist of All-Time doesn’t mean the one who sold the most records. It’s the one whose lyrics are just that outstanding. I think I would qualify for something like that. The best lyricist of all time, you can definitely put me and GZA in that category and a lot of people I know in that category.
Does not getting recognition from the industry and major labels ever discourage you?
It’s discouraging at times but I do what I do. You know what it is? They want me to take my shirt off and wet my chest and pour honey on myself and do other stupid shit for the camera. If I turned into an image of another artist, maybe they would move a different way. Maybe I should get a bunch of girls around me and act like I’m a pimp. I’m going to be me. In a video, the other guys are my actual homies. It’s big business and it’s bigger than that. I’m just talking about Inspectah Deck on the ground level. On a bigger level and with big business, for me to have a successful album, and I know that I can go platinum at any time, I would have to go relocate. I could get with any team moving and any label situation and go function, man. I know I can. Would I do it? I probably wouldn’t because that’s betrayal to everything that I stand for.
Inspectah Deck on G-Unit, the fans wouldn’t respect that. It would probably be a good move on my part because G-Unit has a good percentage of the units being moved in hip-hop right now, but if Wu-Tang got with G-Unit, the fans would be like, ‘Fuck that!’ A good situation for me would be to have an ill RZA-produced album with all the Clan members as well as outside members as well as production from outside producers. That would fucking be a hit for Inspectah Deck with some push to it. It would sell like it was supposed to sell, not what we’re hoping it could sell.
Looking at some songs, like “9 Milli Brothers”, sometimes your voice doesn’t sound like it normally does. Is that from recording with a cold or is it a more serious problem?
It’s happened a few times; recording a verse with a cold. On this album, I recorded “Stick Me For My Riches” with a cold. I had a cold and I wanted to come back. I just said, “You know what? Leave the verse and I’ll come back.” I went overseas and went over there and we fucked around and the deadline came and I never got to change my verse. So the verse with the cold is on the fucking album and I’m insulted by it. Other people are telling me that it doesn’t sound that bad, but to me, it distinctively doesn’t sound like me and it makes my rhyme sound kind of wack. I take pride in my shit and I can say when I’m not feeling it. To me, I know it’s a tight verse. The next thing you know, that’s how it is on the album though. People can hear it and be like, ‘Who’s that?’ ‘Oh, that’s Inspectah Deck.’ ‘Oh, that’s the song he was talking about!’
Raekwon is working on a new album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang. Will you be a part of that project?
I am part of that, man. Word. That’s going to save my ass. I’m definitely a part of that. I would love to do an album like a chaser. This is an album that the artists wanted to do as opposed to, ‘Okay, this is an album that the producer wanted to do.’ I think that would be good for hip-hop and I don’t think that would be any disrespect towards RZA. It would be like the artists put out their own album because that’s what they wanted to do. Now let the fans choose. The only difference is that it might cost them $20. But controversy sells and I think the fans would love that.
If you consider Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang a chaser to 8 Diagrams, would the album drop fairly soon?
It could come as early as next year, man. It could come as early as January or February. To me, it depends on who’s really riding with it. It depends on who’s really riding with it. I’m about it. I’m about whatever is going to take my career further. I’m not here on no personal feelings shit. I’m with whatever is going to take my career further. I’m going to keep doing what I do successfully and I’m with that. Why not put out an album like Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang? That was one of the most famous movies that we got a lot of our skits from and a lot of our personas from. Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, that’s where Wu-Tang was born. The artist versus the producer makes it good for rap.
Do you think everybody in the Clan will be on board?
I think so. I think so. I think when they listen to this album and they see where RZA was coming from and then they listen to Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang and we get the Havoc’s and the Q-Tip’s and all the ill producers out there, I think the fans would love to hear that. I think the fans would love to hear Meth, Rae and Ghost killing it off an Alchemist track. Hell yeah! (laughs) You know what I mean!
Over the years, have a lot of big-name producers expressed an interest in wanting to work with Wu-Tang?
Of course, man. Of course. There’s a long line of people who want to get involved in that.
Before you have to leave, can you take us through your writing process and how your verses come together?
I guess life, man. There’s no real structured formula to it. I might think of a phrase in my head. For example, I was thinking of a rhyme and I just caught the phrase, “Martin got shot in the face on the balcony in front of Jesse, they were probably smokin’ weed.” To me, that sounds like a line that Ghost would open up with, so I wrote it down. From there on, the next time I see the paper and I come back, or even right now when I’m talking, I might hang up the phone with you and come with the other part. That’s a dart. Most of the time for me, it starts with a line. The whole line sets off what you’re going to talk about.
Where do you do your best writing?
Shit, I do my shit everywhere, man. I used to keep the notebook on me. I used to roll around with the notebook on me, but now I got one of the voice recorders on the phone, so every now and then I stop and I say some stupid shit. I’ll write some shit in my house at 4 in the morning, smoking a blunt, watching YouTube and fucking around. The next thing you know, I’m coming with some shit when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep.
What’s your focus going to be for the next few months?
These two albums and my label. I’m working on these groups and Urban Icon Records. You’re going to see The Rebellion come out on that and Resident Patient Part 2 on the internet. I’m also looking at doing outside production. I can’t be jumping offstage no more. I’m getting into CEO mode right now.
What do you want to say to all the Wu-Tang fans out there?
Don’t let this interview persuade you with the album. But I can’t sit here and say the album is outstanding and that it is going to blow your mind. I’m not with the fraudulent shit. Expect me to be real, whether you like it or not. That’s all I can say to y’all.