Six years was the longest period fans had yet to wait for a reconvening of the Wu-Tang Clan, but following some festival plays in 2007, the group released 8 Diagrams last month to a warm reception. Its very anticipation was a breath of fresh air for the hip-hop community that they’ve been such an influential and integral part of, pervading all aspects of the business and art.
Strangely, though, coming out of production, it wasn’t the album Masta Killa thought he and his fellow swordsmen would be releasing. A more reflective listen than what many were expecting to hear, the grand return of the Wu is not the joyous record that might have been expected from the conquering masters of hip-hop.
Their first release without their beloved Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the direction taken on 8 Diagrams was expressly what has made the Wu-Tang Clan unique over the years—their power to create what no one else is. As MK describes, the swordsmen are simply conquering another chamber.
8 Diagrams was a long, long time in the making and a lot of things changed in that time. Working on another Wu-Tang project as a collective, was it difficult?
Not for me, because my formula never really changed from a Wu-Tang formula even when I do my own solo thing, because that’s the formula that works. Even with our first solo careers, the formula was still a Wu-Tang Clan project, because you had all members participating. That’s what worked. So even, for me, it’s never really hard to want to be in that mode, because I know that’s what’s been most successful for us, the formula of being together.
Has it gotten easier over the past fifteen years to stay in that mindset?
It’s never hard for me. I was a fan of the music before I became actually even a part of making the music, so for me it’s always beautiful to come together with great minds and do what we do naturally. You feel the vibe when you’re really in pocket, and you have the fun in there and you’re doing what you love to do.
So were these cuts kind of stewing for a while or was the material basically written during the sessions?
Most of my material was written during the sessions, on the spot type things, because no one really had or knew a direction where the production was actually going to come from. And RZA, when he came, he definitely came unorthodox, meaning he came original, he came like no other sound you’d ever heard. It was like another chamber to conquer, because it wasn’t necessarily what you might be used to hearing. His philosophy was that you can find that just about everywhere, everybody’s kind of making that type of sound.
He felt it necessary to elevate it to a real music level. I wasn’t mad at him, I’m still not mad at him. Personally, I think the album is very original and it sounds like nothing else out there, but it just might not be what the people were ready to digest. Even some of our own were not ready to digest where he was musically.