The picture, or at least the overall tone of the album, is very serious, mournful.

See, that’s where it kind of goes to the production. Sometimes production kind of lifts you up and makes you want to party, be joyful. I think more people was looking for a Friday/ Saturday night, which like Ghostface Killah’s Big Doe Rehab is a Friday/Saturday night. RZA came with a Sunday morning, Sunday evening. There’s nothing with that. That’s the NFL football games and all the good shit, you know what I’m saying? We’re going to kick back, cool out, it’s time to listen, let’s think a little bit, but it might not be what the people—or ourselves as MCs—were ready for.

We probably weren’t geared up for Sunday. We were ready for that Friday/Saturday night feeling. That being said, some thoughts were probably already written towards a Friday/ Saturday night, but had to be curved to a Sunday/Monday type feel. When you’re not bringing your all to the table, you’re not going to get the most productiveness out of a song. It kind of changed the mood of certain things. I wasn’t looking for a mournful album. I wasn’t trying to make that type of album, all serious. I mean, certain things are serious, most things are serious. Wu-Tang has always mostly been serious, that’s us regardless. It’s good to have fun with it also, because people need that.

Well, with tracks like ‘Gun Will Go,’ it’s not like you’re avoiding a good time, but you’re kind of getting something that makes you think a little more. Was that not where you expected it to go?

The balls that were being pitched, it was totally surprising. It was like ‘Oh shit, we’re looking for the fastball, and [RZA] came with that slider shit. We’re looking for the motherfucking curve, and he came with a knuckleball.’ On the mound, he was pitching some shit, but every pitch he was throwing, it was like we were looking for something else. So to say how the overall picture was going to come out, I was just as anxious as you to see. What’s going to be the perception of the art that we’ve painted, based on what we’re given? I’m still learning to this day the perception of certain songs and how people feel. Every day, I’m learning something new.

Are you happy with the overall perception?

Yes and no. I’m always happy because it’s an accomplishment, it’s another one to add to the library, but I’m never satisfied, because I know the potential of our work ethics, and how they can be, and I know the potential of what we can do, and I think that on the scale of one to ten, it’s like a seven. And I’m not satisfied with a seven. I’m thankful to the world, how they received it. The world, they love it. Everybody got their favorites, their opinion on how they see it. But just to me, for me personally, like I said, I’m also a fan of the music. What I want to put in and ride to, 8 Diagrams is kind of like a downer, and I think people wanted to feel in like an uppity spirit.

Well, there is the lingering presence of Old Dirty on the record, and that puts it in one direction.

Right. But even having the presence of Old Dirty, when you think about Dirty, the last thing you think about is down. You’re not thinking about down (laughs), you’re thinking about excitement and ‘something’s going to happen’ type shit. That’s my brother, man. Like Method says at a lot of shows that we do, we’re not here to mourn Old Dirty Bastard’s death, we’re here to celebrate his life.

So that being said, it shouldn’t be in that type of chamber, to me. Musically, RZA did his thing as far as originality, and I can respect that, because I’ve seen where he’s gone and how he’s grown as a musician. I’ve witness someone who’s started to learn a keyboard or a little drum machine to playing instruments live yourself. So I’ve witnessed the growth, and I respect it. Everybody can’t really accept change so easily, or can even adapt to it.

There’s a general sense in all of Wu material, there’s a theme of struggle, but it seems very strong here. Was there any kind of idea when you were working on the material that there was some kind of fight or struggle?

To me, there’s always that when you meet in the chamber with other swordsmen. There’s always that, because you’re looking at someone that you equally respect as another artist, and his swordplay is just as profound and witty and intelligent as yours. MCing, we make songs together, but it’s always still a competitive sport because it’s always been personal and kind of braggadocious when it comes to the art of MCing.

I come from that era of MCs, that’s something you can not really teach, you have to have that. And to create those certain pictures and to create that type of vibe and feeling—when a person is just speaking to you, he could be speaking to you with no beat, and you hear music, how he’s bouncing his words. That’s the art of MCing. So when you respect someone on that level, you always want to bring your A game to the mic.

Wu-Tang Clan will be performing at Hammerstein Ballroom on Jan. 12 and Jan. 17. 8 Diagrams is available now. For more on Wu-Tang, visit wutang-corp.com

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