Ghostface Killah wants you all to know he’s working — better yet, the whole Wu-Tang Clan is working!
As the iconic rap collective is still celebrating 25 years since the release of their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), there was one other thing worth commemorating as well: the would-be 50th birthday of departed member Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
ODB, as he was commonly nicknamed by anyone in the Hip-Hop community who love the Wu (i.e. everybody), passed away 14 years ago this week, just two days before his 36th birthday. Last night (Nov 15), on what would’ve been his 50th, his presence was felt on such an astounding level during a tribute concert held in his memory at The Roulette Intermedium in the heart of Brooklyn. From guest performances by his son Young Dirty Bastard — the similarities as he covered his dad’s biggest hits felt almost eerie at times — plus a host of ’90s rap vets, including Channel Live’s own Hakim Green sparking the stage with “mad izms” on the mic, to a full-out Wu-Tang reunion to close out the night that saw Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Masta Killa and RZA handling things behind the booth to run through a gamut of classic records, the night truly turned out to be one for the books. Even Busta Rhymes came through to show love, filling in for ODB to give a stellar rendition of “Brooklyn Zoo,” in addition to telling the funniest 10-minute-long story that involved Dirty causing some serious ruckus on a plane with his infamous glass-shattering high notes. The Golden Era was preserved with mad respect last night, and The Source was just happy to be in the building.
Here’s what Hakim had to say about the Wu legacy and the first time he witnessed their collective greatness when we caught up with him backstage:
“You have to understand, the first time I heard ‘Protect Your Neck,’ I was at a college party at Rutgers University. My boys John Chambers and Dudley had this DJ crew called the Mob, so they always was pulling out the hottest shit first. Party was packed, I’m way in the back, and all of a sudden that ‘Protect Your Neck’ dropped and I’m like, ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?!’ At that time, the West Coast was really beating things up in Hip-Hop, so to have that in New York and it just be so authentically New York just brought the shit right back to the East Coast. 25 years later, they still just got the game in the palm of their hands and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m in the gym everyday, and it’s Wu-Tang [on the playlist] — Every. Single. Day. That’s my workout regime right there. They put me in the state of mind of boom bap, RZA with the tracks, and just bars galore coming at you. Wu-Tang is a very important piece to Hip-Hop culture — one of the greatest Hip-Hop crews of all-time and some of the illest solo artists of all-time.”
Of course, the night came full circle when we got the golden opportunity to chop it up with none other than “Cherchez La Ghost” himself. Ghostface dropped tons of knowledge on why Wu-Tang Clan is so important to the culture after over two decades of dominating the game, what’s in store for the crew — new music as a group and some solo stuff! — an update on that Ol’ Dirty Bastard biopic in the works, and a hilarious story time moment with ODB that involves him and the eccentric MC posing as legendary Philly R&B group The Stylistics. Yep, they went there!
Keep scrolling to see Ghostface Killah break down the culture of the Wu for us in an exclusive chat in-between rocking the stage alongside his fellow Clan kinfolk, which you see in full detail with the images provided below:
“Nah, it’s like, put it like this: when [Wu-Tang Clan] came in, I knew that we was coming to take heads off but I didn’t know it would be a magnitude where the world would recognize us as that crew. You got many rap crews that came, but to wind up in conversations as one of the top of all-time, if not “the”, is just [amazing]. I’m just a young man from Staten Island, you know what I mean? All praises due to the Most High; everything worked out right through hard work and the talent that each individual had. The Most High definitely moved us on to the next.
—Ghostface Killah, on the long-lasting, ongoing respect that Wu-Tang Clan continues to receive.
“Being here, representing my brother [Ol’ Dirty Bastard] — that’s my brother! I had to at least come, show face and pay my respect, you know what I mean, and let him know that I’m in the building so his energy can just feel my love that I always had for him. His family his here — I seen his daughter the other day and told her I’d do my best to make it and come through. By the grace of God I got here.”
—Ghostface Killah, on making it through NYC’s first blizzard of the season to show love for ODB.
“We just looking to continue that legacy with him. He got a movie that we doing with him — the Ol’ Dirty Bastard movie. We gonna start working on that the top of the year, and it’s already greenlit. We don’t got to sell it to nobody. That’ll will come along with the Wu albums and our solo shit or whatever. We’re just working! It was our 25th anniversary last Friday, so clearly we here to stay.”
—Ghostface Killah, on the ODB biopic announced this past September.
“I’m just grateful, bruh. Brothers been locked up and got jail records, but to turn that around and to stand where we standing at — it gets no better. You have to humble yourself and receive that blessing. It’s about understanding who gave you that blessing.”
—Ghostface Killah, on the many tribulations Wu-Tang had to overcome to achieve the legendary status they each enjoy today.
“[My record could come] any time now. I’ve polished up a lot of stuff I needed to for myself, and also did a lot of little shit for other people that really wasn’t my record, independent shit and whatnot. My records [could drop] at the top of the year, so that’s when those will start going out. That’s not even my Supreme Clientele shit — I’m gonna do the Wu album first and then drop my stuff somewhere after that so it don’t get mixed up. I’ll drop an album somewhere within February or March , just before I drop the Wu album. We busy! It’s a lot of us, so you got to be busy. How not?”
—Ghostface Killah, on new Wu projects scheduled for 2019.
“There’s just too many [memories with OBD]. There’s a lot of shit I really can’t talk about, you know what I mean, but I’ll tell you one thing: that brother right there [is special]. I remember one time we were out of town, and this was before we did Wu-Tang shit, and this muthafucka had these females thinking that we were The Stylistics [Laughs]. He put the tape in and started singing and shit, and we tell them, ‘Yo that’s our shit right there — that’s out new shit!’ I think we might’ve been in Virginia. We was like that for a couple of days, and I think they probably still think that was us! [Laughs]”
—Ghostface Killah, on his greatest personal memory of Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Rest in absolute Power, Dirt McGirt. We miss you…
Images: Brian Fraser