One sentence answers feel pretty bad when you’re a music writer interviewing someone who you grew up listening to. Sometimes, it’s your fault for asking stupid questions and not connecting with the interviewee properly and other times, it has got more to do with the interviewee; how busy they are, or how much they just don’t take media seriously (and who could blame them, especially in the hip hop industry).
Despite that blow to your confidence, it’s rarely anything to take personally, it’s just a bit awkward trying to do up some content based off of the incredibly brief answers. I guess that was (sort of) my experience when it came to asking the almighty Wu-Tang Clan some questions in the lead-up to their current Australian tour (hitting Melbourne tonight, Sydney tomorrow and Brisbane on Friday).
Well, it wasn’t exactly Wu-Tang Clan. When the news first came through that I would be interviewing the legendary hip hop collective, it was supposed to be with just one member (whoever was available at the time) via international call. Then it turned into an e-mail interview with several members of the collective, a potentially huge moment for me as a hip hop fan and as a music writer, despite e-mail interviews being tricky and never really working out the way you want them to.
Following the offer, I spent hours upon hours trying to decide whether I should ask them actual questions or the trendy, “I really don’t give a fuck about your music or legacy I just want you to say something that’ll help me go viral”, questions. I went for the former, with a bit of the latter thrown in for the hell of it.
Weeks later, the answers finally came back but they weren’t exactly what I would have expected. Instead of several Wu-Tang members, the questions were answered solely by unfuckwithable emcee Inspectah Deck, which I had no problem with it all. Deck has always been a Wu favourite for me. I was happy when I saw that he had at least taken the time to at least reply to my long-winded and overthought questions, but that feeling quickly turned to a deep sigh when I saw the answers: rushed and giving me barely giving me anything to work with. Then that sigh turned into a laugh and I decided to get the answers up anyway, because, well, the bluntness is kind of hilarious.
At least we now know that if there were ever a biopic made for Wu-Tang, Deck would want Don Cheadle representing.
First off, 8 members of the Wu-Tang Clan are heading down for these massive Australian shows. Who’s not coming and why?
You would have to ask the person who told you 8 were coming.
What are the main challenges with coming together for an international tour with all of you established so well as individual artists as well as a collective?
Customs, border patrol.
One of the things I most admire about Wu-Tang is that there has been such a strong build up of mythology and the sound of Wu-Tang, and you have all remained consistent in that realm but still evolved as artists, within the logic of Wu-Tang’s style – collectively and individually – rather than chase hip hop trends in general. What do any or all of you feel are the key factors that lend to this consistency over these past two decades?
The very “myth” itself.
The philosophy behind the apparent final ever Wu-Tang album, Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, is such a beautiful, powerful statement about art, music, and consumerism, but it was purchased by someone who doesn’t seem to have any respect for that, has threatened to destroy the album, and in a video with TMZ was even shown using it as a drinks coaster. Is the general feeling in the group, surrounding Shkreli owning such a big part of Wu-Tang’s legacy, disappointment, indifference, or something else? Why?
This Martin Shkreli guy made such a bizarre, dramatic video threat to Ghostface as if he’s trying to audition for the supervillain in a superhero film. As a collective, what does Wu-Tang make of this guy? Has he been the subject of much internal discussion within the group or not?
I don’t think of him. Ask Ghostface.
There’s a contract in place with various stipulations and clauses surrounding the album and it’s content…but are you guys allowed to work around that in a live show? Is there ever a scenario where we will get to hear material from Once Upon A Time in Shaolin in concert?
Bringing it back to live shows. When everyone is together on stage, what tracks are the most fun and memorable, to perform, for Wu-Tang? What gets everyone hype?
Enter the 36 Chambers songs.
What’s the approach to live performing as a collective when all members are together, as opposed to when only some members are together?
When we’re all here, I get to only kick “my” verses.
What are the best, must-visit New York bars, restaurants, cafes, and/or diners according to the Wu-Tang Clan?
Joe’s Crab Shack, Negrils [Negril Village], Joe’s Pub.
RZA described Once Upon A Time in Shaolin as a “seal to a legacy”. If this is the last Wu-Tang album as a collective, what was the decision behind this?
Straight Outta Compton was such a big biopic for 2015. Has there ever been considerations surrounding a Wu-Tang biopic? If so, which actors do any or all members feel could play them best?
Wu-Tang Clan are currently on tour in Australia with support from Ivan Ooze and Nico Ghost. See full dates below: