by Alex Shtaerman
Often touted as the 10th member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, Cappadonna without question can lay claim to some of the most memorable verses ever spit in the realm of the Clan’s voluminous catalog. From “Winter Warz” to “Ice Cream” to his co-starring role on Ghostface Killah’s debut LP, Ironman, Cap would forever secure his legacy with the 1998 release of his own debut album, The Pillage. Easily ranking among the most classic Wu-Tang solo projects ever brought to light, although sometimes overlooked by more novice fans, The Pillage showcased Cappadonna’s signature rhymestyle while featuring appearances from Method Man, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. 30 days after its release The Pillage was certified gold. However, as suggested by the namesake of his 2002 LP, The Struggle, in recent years Cap has often traversed treacherous terrain in seeking to establish himself in the new millennium’s often unpredictable indy market. As the Clan prepares to reunite on record for the first time in over five years with the forthcoming release of their highly anticipated new album, 8 Diagrams, we catch up with Cappadonna to talk some Hip-Hop, relive some Wu-Tang history and look towards the future. Tabernacles catch fire within the apple. Work hard W.T.C.
Click here to listen to “Don’t Turn Around”, a soulful new banger from Cappadonna.
Click here to listen to “My Clan My Clan”, Cappa’s brand new throwback joint.
RIOTSOUD.COM: First off, as far as the younger fans go, to give them some history, you’ve been MCing for a very long time and back in the days you even taught some of the other Clan members how to rhyme. Can you talk about those early years; what was Hip-Hop like during that time?
CAPPADONNA: In the early years Hip-Hop was a lot more creative as far as coming up with concepts and gimmicks. It was a hobby that I turned into a business. I started figuring out ways to enhance the message and enhance the styles and just keep pushing forward with that to figure out a way to try to sell it. I mean, we’ve all been rapping in the Clan from like early school days. When we first came out there really wasn’t nothing poppin’ at that time – probably the Fu-Schnickens and all of that [kind] of stuff was in then – then Wu-Tang was coming in, then after that it was Biggie and then all of the R&B stuff. So we came in right at a time where there was a chance for Hip-Hop to remain Hip-Hop but like everything else it evolved. Now I’m just trying to evolve with it but at the same time I’m trying to keep that same essence of Hip-Hop [intact].
RIOTSOUD.COM: As far as your rhyme style goes, it is easily one of the most distinct in all of Hip-Hop. You use a lot of loose associations and your delivery often sounds spoken as opposed to rapped. How did you develop your unique style of MCing from the time you initially started rhyming?
CAPPADONNA: I had like a lot of MCs that I looked up to from around my way. I’m from Staten Island, New York, so when you come from wherever you come from, ya’ll got your own set of rules and set of slang and different ways how you freak your music and how you get your point across. My style was just a piece of all of the older dudes from around my way. We used to have a lot of DJs that used to come through; there were a lot of DJ battles and MC battles and stuff like that. I started out with a little battle rap and then I was mixing that with personal growth and development. But at the same time my style was almost like a no-style, I tried to sound as different from everybody else as possible. Sometimes I find myself trying to get it simple, keep it as simple as possible, not being too complicated, just something real easy that even a baby could understand.
RIOTSOUD.COM: One thing I read was that in preparation for battling other MCs you used to train yourself by rhyming in front of the mirror. The logic in that being, if you can’t look good to yourself, how are you going to look good to someone else; can you talk about that?
CAPPADONNA: [laughs] I mean, yea, you know, it’s just a way of practicing, it’s like shadowboxing, it’s shadow-rapping man. You just get up [in the mirror] and see how you gonna look, see how your stance is gonna be. I [actually] haven’t been doing that in quite a while, my last battle that I had was in like ’98 or ’99 at the Jacob Javitz Center. It was like the first MC battle in like ten years. I think that was the setoff for all of the battles that came after that because it really wasn’t that serious [as far as battling] at that time. It was Run DMC, Craig G, Everflow and [many others], also Rza came through a little later on. I don’t really dig the battleraps no more because I don’t really see the true game in that right there. I just see it as another form of separation and black on black crime, you know. Right now I’m just trying to pick it up and bring it to another level of soulful Hip-Hop. It’s something that I’m evolving into and I’m trying to downplay a lot of the unnecessary vulgarity that we all were so used to in Hip-Hop.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Right now you have several new tracks circulating, what can the fans expect to hear from Cappadonna in the near future?
CAPPADONNA: What the fans could expect to hear from me is more good music. When I say music I don’t want to just narrow it down to Hip-Hop because I wanna do all kinds of music. I wanna sing, I wanna do rock, I wanna do whatever projects come out of me, whatever kind of thing it is. As long as I keep it soulful, whether it be rock, Hip-Hop, reggae, singing, I’ma do my best to put something in there that’s going to be food for your soul and good for your spirit, to the best of my ability.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Over the last few months mainstream rap music has been under a lot of scrutiny and Reverend Al Sharpton, for one, is speaking out against many of the corporations that are backing some of these “more-controversial” mainstream artists. What do you think about everything that’s been going on? Where do you stand on it?
CAPPADONNA: Well, I know that mainstream rap has always been above the underground rap and somehow or another underground rap [in the past] was more conscious. But underground rap has [come into the mainstream more] since 50 Cent came up. But I’m thinking, everybody deserves a chance man. It’s what you do with it that’s going to make the difference. Now I can’t really knock mainstream music which one might call “dance music” or whatever it is. I think it’s good to keep the fun in it. If you can make up a nice song that’s just dedicated to a certain kind of dance, as long as it’s not too provocative and leading the young women and young men astray, then I think that’s good music, whether it be mainstream or whatever it is.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Do you think that oftentimes artists are unfairly targeted when in an overwhelming majority of cases it’s actually the corporations that are pushing or even demanding that the artists make the type of records that are now coming under such intense scrutiny?
CAPPADONNA: Well, when you’re down with a corporation like that and it pertains to music, of course being that [the corporation] is the overseer of what’s going on, they’re going to want a certain bracket of music that’s going to be suitable to them. They’re going to want something that they can market. They not looking at your personal wellbeing as an artist or how neglectful you’re going to feel of your crowd by not giving them what you think you should give them. They’re just looking at it as business at that point, [and that’s what happens] when you’re dealing with corporations outside of yourself. When you become independent then you have more say on what kind of music you want your listeners to hear and how you want them to view you.
RIOTSOUND.COM: In the coming months you’ll be touring Europe with the Wu-Tang Clan. Why do you think the Wu-Tang movement has gained so much momentum on a global scale and continues to resonate with fans on literally every single continent in the world?
CAPPADONNA: Well, God willing I will be going to Europe when that time comes. At the moment I feel like the people – not so much the corporations, but the people – have for so long been asking for another Wu album – which we’re working on right now – but it’s the people that want it. Somebody from a corporation, as usual, was also a fan; so now they want to hear more Wu-Tang too. I guess if we just keep it nice and gully and keep it crafty, it’ll work. I’m sure there’s gonna be sold out shows and not only from old Wu heads. I mean, we got Wu-Tang heads like 35 years old, 40 years old, 50 years old [laughs], know what I mean. They white, brown, Hispanic, Chinese, it don’t even matter. I think [the shows] is gonna be sold out and I think in this new era we might trickle over into the new youth and then we might have both levels of Hip-Hop locked down one more time, God willing.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Over the course of your career you’ve been through a lot of different situations. At the end of the day what has been of greatest satisfaction to you when you look back at all that you have achieved?
CAPPADONNA: At the end of the day it all boils down to love and that’s what I get out of all the time that I’ve been in music and everything that I did. God gave me that gift and I was able to give something to the world and have people see some things through my eyes and enjoy something that I was doing. Even people that I didn’t know who are feelin’ like I’m a nice dude because I had a gift to give. That means a lot to me when I’m in this world knowing that I left something behind. Regardless of whether it be good or bad, there’s something to learn in both situations.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Can you give us an update on 8 Diagrams, the forthcoming Wu-Tang album?
CAPPADONNA: We started recording, there’s a lot of songs on the table, a lot of nice tracks. We keeping it witty and unpredictable, it doesn’t sound like we lost the flair or anything like that; it definitely sounds like Hip-Hop. Everybody is still bringing that different element to the table. I believe we only doing like fourteen songs, that’s what’s supposed to be our limit. [So far] I think it’s coming out really good.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What else should the fans be looking out for as far as Cappadonna goes?
CAPPADONNA: God willing, I’m doing this independent thing and I’m hoping that it pops off the right way. It’s a struggle in and out with finding the right business associates and all of that, but it’s something that’s necessary in order to reach that goal. Keep a look out for The Cappatalize Project, it’s phat, it’s soulful and something nice, it’s not too long or drawn out. You can also get the mixtape, The Greatest Dartz Ever Sold. Then there’s The Transition; everything sounds different, it’s all new songs with all kinds of different things going on. Also you could get The Struggle. I’m still just doing me man, just reaching out to the underpriviliged and helping brothers and sisters out who’s trying to get into the game. Even though I only got one foot in, or however you want to put it, it’s like I’m still reaching back with the other foot and grabbing up more heads that’s trying to do what I do because I know how it feel when you trying to come up and you just want somebody to acknowledge you.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Thank you for taking this time out to do the interview, it’s much appreciated.
CAPPADONNA: Mad love go out to all of the fans man, keep doing what ya’ll doing. Keep your ears and eyes glued man, Hip-Hop lives!
For more news and info on Cappadonna stay tuned to www.MySpace.com/originaltyzeem and www.Wu-TangCorp.com