“I still got a story to tell”: Wu-Tang Clans’s Ghostface Killah talks growing old, finding God and Twelve Reasons to Die
You have grown kids now right?
Yeah I got grown kids. You start talking about things that mean something because you’re getting older now. You’re not talking about, ‘yo I’m in front of the building with five cracks in my pocket’ at 70. You’re not gonna talk about that.
Sometimes I wonder if hip-hop stunted its own growth in a way. You have cats on the radio that are grown men that are making songs for children basically.
It’s just that people have to follow a certain suit to be heard. These little niggas are coming in and doing what they do. When I was little I came in at 23 so now you got these guys coming in at 23 and 20 but that’s what it is. Shit always evolves to something else, nothing always stays the same. People gotta learn how to accept that. This music shit, yeah it’s they time to have that. So what you could do is stay doing what you coin but sometimes you gotta put them little niggas under your wing, you know what I mean, like ‘c’mere, gimme a hook nigga’, to keep you there. Do shit with them, because they look up to you too, don’t just push them out the way. Before they was on, there was no South shit like it is now, it was all East Coast shit. Alotta them mothafuckas love you. do what you gotta do for them, that’s the youth! That’s the youngs! Still do what you do tho, and do it well so when it’s time to go on that basketball court with them niggas, you gotta show them who’s boss. When I say that basketball court, I mean that track, you know what I mean, or that stage. Alotta people follow. The people are so simple-minded, you gotta water certain shit down, make a radio hit. Now you in the club. When you start talking that shit we were talking about back in the days like ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ and all that, it’s not gonna get played like that.
You came from an era where you had to invest money into your product, you had to press that 12″, you had to meet people, you had pass it off to people and now things can get done behind a computer and get today’s version of that effect. As someone who comes from that era, that now is probably an era we can’t go back to, how do you feel about it?
I don’t even think about that shit no more. It is what it is. What you gonna do? Really, tell me what you’re gonna do? You gonna protest or something? You can’t do shit man. You gotta do what you do and stay in the race. Don’t sit here and talk about what these other niggas is doing. They do what they do to try and make it happen. It’s a whole new sound. It’s everywhere. Back then you had Mobb Deep, you had Nas, you had me and Rae and Wu Tang, we all like the same sound. West Coast had Snoop, Dre, E-40, it’s a whole different sound. Now you got all types of genres of shit. It’s a whole fuckin’ mix of shit. Do you, like I said, and do it well. As long as you can write good and you got good beats, you’ll be all right. You still got muthafuckas out there that recognize real shit. It’s just gotta be heard – if you can be heard, you’ll be all right.
I respect you as one of the most vivid writers in hip-hop. You say things like ‘happiness in globs’ and reference specific things like ‘soccer mom’ – where does that creativity and inspiration come from?
It comes from the most high. It comes from God man, there is no other place where it comes from. I love good music, I love being around people that know how to rhyme because it keeps me on my toes. It keeps me like, okay, don’t get lazy with your mind, open your mind up and say something. say something that mothafuckas will be like ‘oh shit, yo,’ you know what I mean? I’m still into that. when you can still think like that and lay it down like that, you’ll be a nice MC. Inspiration is straight the talent which God has given me, God-talent. I pray for him to keep my mind open and that’s it. Don’t close it on me yet, I’m not finished, I still got a story to tell.
is there anything else you haven’t touched yet in your career that you’re looking forward to trying? Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’ve always wanted to do?
Yeah, I wanna rhyme about God, I wanna do a God album, a positive album so the kids and everybody will understand what’s going on. I want to tell what’s going on through my eyes. I don’t wanna give too many of my ideas away because people just be taking them. Feed the poor people, feed the animals, that’s one of the main reasons I’m here. God put me here to teach people and to lead people to his direction. I’m not a Christian, I’m a Muslim but God is one. I just believe in the most high. I know what my duty is.
So whatever path people might take to the most high, as long as they go there…
All channels of water, all the waters lead in one direction and that’s direction to the most high. I keep saying the most high because I don’t want to intimidate anybody or have people feeling like I’m telling them to follow my God. There’s only one God It’s what I feel, if that’s what you feel it’s whatever whatever whatever. My job is to make them aware, to say something to turn they mind to that right direction.
What turned your mind to that? there must have been a point where you turned towards that direction yourself.
I’ve always been into Islam. I got alotta questions and I got a lot of my questions answered through Islam. when I look at history and I look at all the prophets, I love them all from Moses, Noah, Jesus, Abraham, Solomon, David, Job, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, Jona, all of them. I love them all because they all served a purpose. It’s like the stories I heard on all them prophets, I was fascinated by it. Wow!
From a young age?
Not even from a young age, I learnt about that later on in life. I went to the mosque one day and it came to me like, this is where I belong. I left out of that and I felt clean, I felt clean. I didn’t know how to pray like the muslims but I prayed in my heart like how I regularly would pray and did the same movements they did but when I left out of there, I felt clean, clean! I done been to church, I done been to other places and I never felt like the way I felt like when I went there. I’m a spiritual brother, I follow the signs so if that made me feel clean leaving outta there, God is clean right?
Alright then. That’s what made me know I belonged there. I had to follow that sign there. I was always into Islam, not a muslim, but I was always into it. I studied muslim lessons. When I got in that mosque, it was different you know what I mean. That was it. That’s how I know that I belong there.
And that was the path for you.
That was my path for me, exactly.
Twelve Reasons to Die is available to stream here.