by Alex Shtaerman
Lending powerful insights into a medley of broken English and abstract slang is nothing new for Cappadonna. A legend in the borough of Staten Island long before he first appeared on Raekwon’s classic LP Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Cap has since forged a die hard following rhyming alongside his Wu-Tang comrades while dropping nearly half-a-dozen solo projects including his landmark debut The Pillage. And while some fans struggled to make sense of his rhymes, others marveled at a style of MCing that transcended words to generate a seemingly unparalleled intensity. Cap didn’t rhyme, he straight bombarded tracks, and if you ever heard songs like “Winter Warz” “Slang Editorial” and “Blood On Blood War” this is probably just a re-hashing of what has been obvious to many for the better part of a decade and a half.
After spending considerable time on tour with the Wu in ’06 through ’08, Cappadonna is back in ’09 with the brand new album Slang Prostitution. With guest appearances from Raekwon, Masta Killa and King Just, Slang Prostitution finds Cap reverting to what the MC describes as his “vintage” style, declaring the new project to be “based upon what the people are expecting from me”. On the eve of Slang Prostitution’s release we had a chance to catch up with the Papi Wardrobe King to talk Hip-Hop, life, politics and much more. Peep the realness, but don’t sweat the garments!
RIOTSOUND.COM: The title of your new LP is Slang Prostitution; is there something you are trying to make reference to as far as the title goes?
CAPPADONNA: Well, Slang Prostitution is based upon buying demand. It’s just a way of producing a friendly business relationship through the craftiness of words. And the words that we use is slang. So to describe my message, the broken English that I use, the witty unpredictable talent and natural game, is a form of prostitution, you know. It’s how we gotta tempt that message in the form of slang just to get that word out.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Is there more to it though, with regard to what some would say has been the commercialization and prostitution of Hip-Hop itself over the past decade or so, are you touching on that as well?
CAPPADONNA: Absolutely, absolutely, that’s exactly what I’m touching on. [Hip-Hop] has been used and abused and served like hell. The game became a prostitute, you know, a place for everybody to wipe they feet. And until it gets back into the hands of the veterans it’s like a loose train just running down the track.
RIOTSOUND.COM: In reflecting on the recording process, what would you say was the tone and feel you were aiming for and what type of balance did you strike with this particular album, musically speaking?
CAPPADONNA: As far as what’s different about this particular record, this is vintage right here. I’m just keeping it real down to earth. It’s a lot of slick wordplay about life and about coming up out of the struggle and surviving and enduring things. There’s a lot of messages [on the album], there’s a lot of good soul music in there; it’s just a mixture. It’s a real good diverse album based upon what the people are expecting from me and not what I want to do. It’s not what I want to give to the people but rather it’s more or less what the people want. So I came giving them what they want so they could learn to want what they need.
“I don’t care who’s doing R&B, I don’t care who’s doing commercial music, I’m not writing songs about ‘yo, later for R&B and what’s this bullcrap about what so and so is doing’. It’s like, yo, he doing music, it’s an expression of oneself and it’s the freedom of speech”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Having come up and maintained a following in the game for all these years, how have your views changed over time with your approach towards making music and the perspective that you have now as opposed to when you were a young up and coming MC?
CAPPADONNA: Well, I just learned that everything ain’t for everybody and that everybody is an individual in they own way. Everybody is unique and everybody has a gift and an art. And when you cater to that gift and that art, you’re adding on, you’re building, you’re elevating to another level. But when you try to belittle somebody’s craft and go against them in the form of rap battling or whatever the case may be, you take away! When you use whatever your gift is – since we’re talking about music – it’s like when you’re using your gift in a negative way, you’re going to get negative results. But if you got something in there that’s properly orchestrated and with a healthy balance, it’s going to produce good harvest. And that’s where I’m at right now, where I learned not to be too judgmental of everybody else. I don’t care who’s doing R&B, I don’t care who’s doing commercial music, I’m not writing songs about “yo, later for R&B and what’s this bullcrap about what so and so is doing”. It’s like, yo, he doing music, it’s an expression of oneself and it’s the freedom of speech.
RIOTSOUND.COM: It could definitely be argued that under George W. Bush, a lot of art movements as well as artistic expression in general, Hip-Hop or otherwise have been subverted. It seemed like after 9/11 happened and the government was clamping down, a lot of art was deemed “controversial” and things had to be whitewashed or sanitized somehow. A lot of artists were pushed to the fringes and an attitude developed that certain people’s art needed to be marginalized or somehow discredited because it was somehow “dangerous” or “too risky” to have around and legitimized. Do you think that under President Obama there will be a loosening of the screws that will enable for a greater and more diverse array of artistic expression, like we had in the ’90’s under President Clinton?
CAPPADONNA: I’m not necessarily a politician but I go for the better of the people. I speak on behalf of the oppressed and poor people and the people who don’t get to speak or get to voice their opinion. I’m what you call a freedom writer. And the thing about it is that what the government and Obama is trying to orchestrate is that order. It’s about order right now and putting things back in order with regard to the intense way that we came up. To even be able to achieve those heights, it just restores hope and faith – the substance of things hoped for but not yet seen. So the word was always the word in the beginning as it will be in the end. In the beginning God said that the word was with him. So whether God sends man or whoever he sends to carry his word, that’s the inevitable event.
Now whether the word is bent, twisted, diluted or tampered with, that’s something where one has to seek knowledge and experience in order to get the best understanding and to see all things clearly and not just for what they appear to be. So knowledge is just an entity of something formulated and incorporated into words in different various languages so that we can all get a better understanding of each other. There’s your side of the story, there’s his side of the story and then there’s the truth. And that’s where we fit in. And the truth is that the meek shall inherit the earth, man. So I’m one of the meek and I’m coming here on behalf of all of my people that came up a hard way and sometimes selected to do things that were contrary to the way they wanted to live.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Now as far as your relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan, just to clear this up once and for all – at the very beginning you weren’t officially part of the group yet you knew many of the Wu members since childhood. You have appeared on some of the most memorable Wu-Tang records of all time. Most fans consider you a full member, some consider you the Clan’s closest affiliate and some are just confused about the whole situation. What is your personal take on this issue?
CAPPADONNA: I’ma tell you what it is man, it’s like whether or not the people or whoever is deciding on whether or not I’m an official member of the Wu or whether I was an add-on or whatever the case may be, these are people that’s trying to fit me comfortably into some kind of category that’s beautiful for them; something that they can feel that I’m worth or whatever. But, it’s like, I’ve already had my worth and my feet had already been set firmly on stable ground. So titles don’t mean anything to me right now. I’m just kind of [like] God, don’t call me anything [laughs]. Just call me a man of God, don’t try to put me in a box and box me into any kind of category, like, “he’s a Hip-Hop artist”. I’m not an MC, I’m not a Hip-Hop artist, I’m just a messenger. I’m just trying to reach you, I quit trying to teach you and now I’m just trying to reach you.
There might be something [in my message] where it might not be something positive that I’ve been through that might help you in life. It might be my negative aspect of something that I’ve been through where you’ll say “oh man, that’s what happened to you, I sure ain’t doing that”, you know what I’m saying. So all of my good and bad and my ugly was just a part of the beauty of the end result – and [that result] is coming from nothing into something. That’s what it’s all about. So let your contribution be heard man, let your words play and let the people say what they might. As long as they saying something and always looking towards you – you know, one time three guys approached me and they approached me in a way where they wanted to know mad questions but at the same time they didn’t like the answers I was giving them…
CAPPADONNA: So how about that, you know? So at the end of the conversation I had to explain to these brothers, I said “yo, well the bottom line is that I was over here minding my business standing alone and all of ya’ll three came up to me asking me how I see today’s math or how I see life today. Ya’ll was attracted to me [laughs], it could have been the gold ornaments that made ya’ll attracted. I attracted all three of ya’ll and it was just one of me, I’m powerful”.
“knowledge is just an entity of something formulated and incorporated into words in different various languages so that we can all get a better understanding of each other. There’s your side of the story, there’s his side of the story and then there’s the truth”
RIOTSOUND.COM: Wu-Tang has been doing a lot of touring lately, what has that been like? You’ve toured a lot in the US as well as abroad. Being that this is arguably one of the most active periods of Wu touring since the group’s inception, how would you describe the experience; has anything surprised you?
CAPPADONNA: Yea, I’ve been very surprised with the things that I’ve seen that I wouldn’t like to utter but at the same time I’ve also seen a group that’s been going through hell together also still arrive at the same place at the same time to come together and work. So, you know, all praise is due to just that. I just love it when brothers come together for one common cause, and when we do that the angels start to sing and the harvest is plenty. Even if it was a little it’s more than what we’d be doing if we were out there living that negative life, holla!
RIOTSOUND.COM: If you could go into the studio tomorrow and work with any MC and have any producer do the track but the song would never be released or heard by anyone besides yourself, the other MC and the producer; who would you pick to work with?
CAPPADONNA: Wow… hmm… I’d like to do a song with Nas, and who would I like to produce it… [pauses]… I don’t know, that’s a good one man, there’s so many good producers out there.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How about if you could pick three producers to work on the record…
CAPPADONNA: I don’t know man…[laughs]
RIOTSOUND.COM: Ok, that’s fair enough – how about we talk about the fans’ perception of you and the impressions that people might have just from following your career and listening to your music – what do you think might be something people would be surprised to learn about Cappadonna?
CAPPADONNA: I mean, a lot of people probably wouldn’t know that I’m a real man of God despite my faults. I’m really going on for God man. A lot of people, they might hear me talk about it and they might label me as some kind of bugged out dude or something but at the same time that’s just how hard I go for what I believe, word. I go to the end. I’ma die just because I believe that there’s supposed to be peace and love on earth, man. And there’s a lot of people out there that don’t feel like that, you know what I mean. So, what can I do? I guess I’m somehow at spiritual war with those forces just because I want to be a positive role model – not even a positive role model necessarily but just a positive person in general, despite my shortcomings
RIOTSOUND.COM: You got Slang Prostitution out, what else should everybody be looking out for as far as Cappadonna goes?
CAPPADONNA: You got Slang Prostitution, also I got the Welfare mix CD. And I’m also still working on the Better Life Movement, with me and Born Devine. I’m orchestrating and putting together a team right now and we’re just going to go forward. The sky is the limit. We’re going to do comic books as well as other things. I’m looking at what the people want this time, like I said. It’s no longer what I want and what I’m trying to do. I want to know what the people want and I want to find out how I can get it to them and how I can supply it, it’s like, what kind of music can I give them and still sneak my message into it. While they dancing they don’t know that I said something real right there [laughs]… something uplifting that made them drop when I said that [laughing]. Like, “yea, I like that, he said he loves the black woman”, you know. That’s right man, c’mon.
For more news and info on Cappadonna check out www.MySpace.com/Cappadonna