Q&A: U GOD RECALLS THE EARLY DAYS OF WU TANG BY J. PABLO
U God got stories. The often-slept on member of the Wu Tang Clan has seen a lot from the dizzying heights he and his brothers climbed to in the rap world. Even before he was globetrotting with the Clan he was on the block living the life many rappers tried to emulate in their rhymes but knew nothing about firsthand.
Luckily he survived the wild blocks of Park Hill and prison to become one of the most supportive Clansmen while still sharpening his craft. Though he was absent for the bulk of 36 Chambers due to a stint in prison, by the time Wu Tang Forever rolled around U God was spitting with the best of the Clan. A few bumps along the road weren’t enough to stop his progress, which is why he is still releasing deadly material and still moving as a part of the Wu.
Ain’t shit changed. It’s still that pinky ring shit…
When was the first time you heard the term Wu Tang Clan?
Oh many, many years ago I heard the name in a kung fu flick.
But when was the first time you heard it applied to your crew?
Oh that’s a hard one. When I came out of the can we were already Wu. I can’t recall the first time because we went though many names. When we was young we was called the BCC. Then we was the Wreck Posse. We was called Dick ‘Em Down for a while… we was always called something, you know what I’m saying? SO I can’t recall the exact first time.
Do you remember when you first got called U God?
I was given that name when I was 13, 14 years old. I was a 5 Percenter and at the time the 5% Nation was real strong. A lot of the kids with a thirst for knowledge gravitated towards the 5%. It was meant for us. It was meant to rehabilitate all the pimps and gangsters and hardcore motherfuckers into giving them knowledge of self. I picked up on that early. That’s why at like 15 I had like grown ups as workers who would take orders from me. Young kingpins.
Tell me more about that. Because I’ve heard early on you funded some of the UW endeavors before you got locked up.
I’m not going to say I funded it but I sparked it. I definitely gave Rza what he needed when he came to me in certain situations. Then I got locked up and then my man Power took over. I was the first initial dude though who was holding the situation down.
Did you click with anyone early on?
Yeah. During those times I just mentioned I was really holding down Meth. Me and him were more Batman and Robin in the streets. We were doing our thing because we had both gotten kicked out of our houses so we had to stand up like men and do what we had to do.
So you guys were really living that life huh?
Yeah. All these people talking about trapping… y’all late. I been out here getting caught with burners, having the feds on us, all that. But we were doing that because we had to. Once we got in the [rap] game we stuck to that. We were trying to be like these clowns that wait till they’re rapping to start getting caught with burners. It’s backwards. I didn’t come into this game to go to jail; I came in this game to make a living.
When did you it hit you that you guys were stars?
Want to hear something funny? I always knew we were going to be stars, even when I was a little kid. I didn’t know how I was going to get there but I knew we were going to get there. Not like the biggest stars ever and maybe just amongst stars but I always knew I'd get there.
Did the whole clan have that similar faith?
Yeah but you can ask Raekwon, he stopped rhyming and was going straight street. I came to Rae one day and told him not to ever put down is pen and pad. I don’t give a fuck if you're in jail; always rhyme. That’s what we were good at. Rae will tell you that till this day, “U God is the one that got me back rhyming.” I always used to tell all of them that we were going to make it up out the ghetto.
Do you remember moments where you felt the shift toward becoming the icons that you are?
There was one time when me and Masta Killa were on the beach in Puerto Rico. We had been doing crazy promo and we were at about 250,000 [units sold]. Me and Masta Killa were talking about how the shit has to work. We would’ve been happy going gold. We had already shot the "C.R.E.A.M." video and it was being edited while we were in San Juan. Few days later we went on Arsenio Hall and Steve Rifkind dropped the video to “C.R.E.A.M.” the next god damn day. That took us out of here, more than gold to platinum. After that we were just running around the planet. Just running…
U God's Keynote Speaker is out now!!
Follow J. Pablo: @AvenueP
[photo: Stephen Bercovici]