At a certain point in time The Wu-Tang Clan’s cup had runneth over with Wu affiliates. Everywhere you looked another album was popping up with the Wu logo on it. In 2006 a lot of the affiliates are gone, but one artist that has remained is Killah Priest. In early 1998 Killah Priest dropped Heavy Mental, an album that would cement his place as a top MC among his Wu brethren, and now eight years and a handful of albums later he’s going the independent route with “The Offering”. Though “The Offering” isn’t due out until October, the mix-CD Prelude To “The Offering” is out now and Killah Priest sat down with us at RapReviews to talk about his work, the new direction Wu-Tang is taking, and to spread a little knowledge about what’s different about Killah Priest this time around.
Adam Bernard: How ya doin?
Killah Priest: I’m in the best mood ever right now.
AB: Really? Tell me why you’re in the best mood ever right now.
KP: I just came back from Russia and I got some icon pictures and a lot of stuff I might want to get tatted.
AB: So what else has been going on? I know you have a project in the works.
KP: Yeah, I’ve got “The Offering” album. I have the mixtape, “Prelude to the Offering,” that’s out right now, that’s on my MySpace page and my website, Killahpriest.com. I’m working on my next mixtape. I’ve got a little buzz going on in the internet world and the mixtape world.
AB: As far as the mixtape circuit goes I’ve noticed it’s really become mixtape then album, mixtape then album; how much has it really helped you develop a buzz and what’s the difference in terms of exposure now as to when a mixtape was an actual 90 minute mix?
KP: Right now it’s just me so I’ve been really hands on with everything. I’m doing my own thing so I get a lot of good feedback. I get total creative control when I’m in the studio now to do what I want to do. If I feel like doing a song I’ll do a song. The buzz has been great, in fact a lot of people hit me up now, they’re seein me on hiphopgame.com with the journal and I’m just telling people my ideas. All I want to do is make good music at the end of the day.
AB: You have quite the team to do that with because you’ve still got that Wu logo, right?
KP: Yeah, exactly. I’ve been doing shows with Raekwon and I’ve been doing shows with U-God, that’s the cats that’s out there grindin. They’ve been catching me everywhere. I feel like I’ve always been one of the pioneers of the grind. I was one of the first cats in the clan to get a solo album as far as Wu affiliates is concerned. I was just rhyming with Dirty one day and it popped off. Being with the GZA and the RZA I got to experience a lot of traveling and I’m finally getting it right to where I can focus.
AB: So you’re more focused. What are some of the other differences this time around?
KP: When I was with a major label and when I first went independent it blew me away. I didn’t know you needed so much money to do your own marketing so we had to develop that. That was a little struggle at first, when I first put out Priesthood, getting up the marketing money and the investors because it was something totally new for me, but now I’ve got a couple of investors and I want to go the independent route all the way. That’s what I mean about a little more focus. Even musically I’m just in another place. When I’m in the studio a lot of the stuff that I’ve seen over the past years and a lot of serious real personal things, it just all relates, it comes out through the music.
AB: So tell me a little bit about the album, some of the topics you’re looking to hit on, some of the things that may be different from a major label release, even a major label Killah Priest release.
KP: “The Offering” is a straight Killah Priest Hip-Hop album. It’s just straight up me doing what I do and doing it best. I’ve got all the elements that I bring to the table. I’ve got some very personal songs on there. But all in all the album is a straight through listen and I’m not just saying this. I am a fan of Hip-Hop and when I hear this album I can listen to it and I’ve got a variety of people on there that I like to listen to and everybody that came through for me on the album really really put it down for me.
AB: Who came through?
KP: Nas got on it. Immortal Technique. All my Horseman brothers and my Maccabees. But it’s not like a regular verse from each one of ‘em, it’s like they’re really goin in. It’s a lyrical album. I’ll sum it up like that, it’s a lyrical album, a very lyrical conscious album, that’s what it is.
AB: How did you come up with the title “The Offering?”
KP: At first it was The Priest’s Offering because this is what I’m giving, this is what the game gave me and what I’ve learned, but I just called it “The Offering”. I’m not just giving you Priest, I’m giving you wide views of how I see the world and how the world affected a lot of things and how Hip-Hop in general is affected right now and straight up real lyrics and bringing real good Hip-Hop back to the game. Whether you like it or not you’re gonna have to respect it.
AB: You said bringing good Hip-Hop back to the game. I know a lot of artists say that. Do you think any artist out there, no matter how wack, thinks that they’re bringing bad Hip-Hop to the game?
KP: (Laughs) You know what, and that’s the sad part, they’re not even conscious of what they do. I sit back and think about a lot of artists and when they’re in the studio. The thing I do and what we do, it’s called rap, it’s not just Hip-Hop, this is called rap, so my whole thing is the best you could be. It’s like a breakdancer two stepping and saying yo I’m still part of that, I’m still rocking while everybody’s doing windmills. There’s no windmills being shown, there’s no one arm spin, so I look at it the same way, this is rap music. A lot of people try to hide in Hip-Hop, saying this is Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop is universal, but rap is what it is, it’s a category. What I do, you gotta be the best, or somewhere along those lines, or be extremist. Nobody’s gonna hear you side-steppin on the mic all the time. What those guys bring to the table, usually, in the breakdancing they kind of ignore it, even though they’re put out there like that those thing are not going to last. I make music for the future, they make music for present.
AB: What would you like to see change in terms of that?
KP: I’d like to see real real talented artists be appreciated and pushed back up. I don’t even care about none of this radio play, I’m just doing what I like to do and what my fans like to hear. The new fans are gonna be shocked and very interested in what real Hip-Hop is because I came from that era where real Hip-Hop means a lot. Like my discussion with Nas, we were talking about how he was in a better position, I mean a bigger position than me, and I just respect certain cats who talk about the same thing as far as real Hip-Hop music and where is rap going and where can rap go. I didn’t go into the studio like a lot of cats go into the studio like yo I’ma bring New York back. Nah, that’s corny to me because the effort is wack. I did what I grew up learning and what I grew up doing.
AB: There was no plan going into the studio but now you have an album you’re offering to the people. Who do you hope to reach with this?
KP: The masses. I want them, even if they don’t accept it, know that they have to respect it and respect a real art form and real lyrics and also the way the album is put together. A lot of artists don’t put effort into what that pen does and that’s bad for Hip-Hop. So I want to reach the masses and for the people who it does reach, as long as they hear it you’ve got to be a clown not to respect real MCing.
AB: Being in the role of an independent how much harder is it to reach those masses?
KP: It has its days, I’m not gonna lie about that, sometimes I try to stay up. As long as we have the money behind us to put it to where I feel like it will generate some money back and it will generate some ideas and some people listening, it’s all good. But I’m not gonna lie to you the majors are what they are, they’re big corporations that eat up everything. So what we do, we’re like underground, under the earth, and we can’t eat as much as they do but it’s up to the people. Just like with Black Market (Militia), sometimes you’ve got to go under the earth to get it. Sometimes you might see a little pothole where we came up.
AB: You also have the Wu logo, as we discussed. How much does that mean in 2006 to have that on your album?
KP: Really, I don’t even know if the logo’s on my album, but it generates. Wu is a dynasty. Wu got a lot of fans that love our type of sound and our music and everything. It means something, but I’m not gonna lie, the Wu had fell off for a while. I think it had to do with producing music constantly, and good music, that these guys, I dunno, trying to appease the radio is not a good thing. I think that everybody’s realizing a little right now, take it back to what made you who you are.
AB: I was gonna say I noticed the last couple Wu albums that have been fantastic have been the Bronze Nazareth album and the Think Differently project, and it almost seems like the Wu is going back underground. Are you finding your original audience again or are you finding a whole new audience?
KP: I’m getting a little bit of both now. I was always the one doing songs with other people and after doing a lot of songs with guys a lot of people were like yo I just heard Killah Priest, he makes me laugh. A lot of people know me and I like that, but a lot of cats right now are just getting up on me and that makes me feel good, too.
AB: You have Priest in your name. Is there any effort to throw some religion into your rhymes?
KP: I never try to be religious. I never try to be any type of religious cat. Spiritual, yes, but religion, when you get into that you get into a category where you lock yourself in and people look at you a certain way and then they become that way. Nah, I’m still an MC, I’m an MC first. People try to figure out my origin, at the end of the day it’s just clever songs.
AB: Should an MC’s origin be important fans to the fans?
KP: I think Eminem straightened that out man. Real lyricists is just heard. Eminem, Jin, there’s a lot of black MC’s that’s scared to death of those dudes and I see why. That’s good. Get the talent. It’s all about the talent, the artistry, where I’m concerned.
AB: So what’s the most rewarding aspect of being Killah Priest?
KP: Hearing the love from the fans and just being respected. I have to say the most part is getting the respect. No matter what MC I’m around they always give me some respect. (I’m an) MC’s MC. They always like yo Priest man I just heard your shit man and it inspired me, in some form or way. One of the biggest was when Kool G Rap told me ‘man you’re nice.’ I mean coming from him, that was just nuts!
AB: Finally, if you could smack some sense into one MC or producer who would it be and why?
KP: I got all day! I would smack Hot 97, probably the whole staff.
AB: Just don’t get too close, everyone seems to get shot there!
KP: Yeah, exactly. Play some real Hip-Hop man. Angie Martinez, and some of these DJs, it’s up to them, too. They get me so upset they don’t big up real lyricists and they are DJs. DJs had a relationship with MCs at one time. And how you gonna be a nice DJ and like corny MC’s? I just don’t understand that. Big ups to independent radio, I like what they’re doing.