Lamont Jody Hawkins (born November 11, 1970), better known as U-God (short for Universal God), is an American rapper and member of the hip hop collective, Wu-Tang Clan. He has been with the group since its inception, and is known for having a deep, rhythmic flow that can alternate between being gruff or smooth.
Hawkins was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. However he moved to Staten Island as a youth. He was originally a beatboxer for Cappadonna, as well as being well known friends with future members Method Man, Inspectah Deck and childhood friend Raekwon. Sometime before the members united, U-God was mentored in rap by Cappadonna. He soon became friends with RZA and Ghostface Killah, and he began rhyming under the alias Golden Arms, based on the Kung-Fu movie Kid with the Golden Arm. Later on he changed his name to U-God (which is short for his Five-Percent Nation righteous name "Universal God Allah").
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) / Wu-Tang Forever:
U-God was convicted of criminal possession of controlled substance on April 17, 1992 and was paroled on January 1993. His incarceration prevented him from featuring heavily on the group's debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), his input on the seminal LP consisting of only a short bridge on the groups debut single "Protect Ya Neck" as well as the now-famous opening verse of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'". Nevertheless, after his release he quickly became known to fans for his rugged flow and bass-like voice on Wu tracks such as "Winter Warz", "Knuckleheadz", "Investigative Reports", and "Black Jesus". He was featured heavily on the groups second album Wu-Tang Forever, on which he was one of only four of the group to get a solo track - "Black Shampoo" (While the others being Inspectah Deck with "The City", RZA with "Sunshower" and Ol' Dirty Bastard with "Dog Shit"). Around this time his young son was accidentally shot and injured, an ordeal the rapper documented on the Wu-Tang Clan track A Better Tomorrow.
Golden Arms Redemption:
U-God was the eighth member of the group to record a solo album, releasing Golden Arms Redemption in 1999 on Priority Records, which displayed a wide variety of sounds from gritty blaxploitation funk to urgent string sections, and featured guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members and affiliates. It had two singles in "Dat's Gangsta" and "Bizarre". The song "Rumble" was used as the main song for the video game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. Bizarre debuted #7 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles, but soon after Priority Records was on the verge of shutting down. Still, the album managed to go Gold in sales. Based on the initial success, U-God was able to open his own label, Suppa Nigga Productions. He released his second album Mr. Xcitement in 2005.
Dopium and The Keynote Speaker:
In 2009 U-God released the album Dopium and had the lead single "Wu-Tang" featuring Method Man. The album featured guest appearances by Sheek Louch, Jim Jones, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Cappadonna, Method Man, Killah Priest and Scotty Wotty with production by Bloody Beat Roots, Felix Cartel and Large Professor. In 2013 U-God announced a new album The Keynote Speaker with production by RZA who also served as the albums executive producer. The album was released on July 23, 2013 by RZA's Soul Temple Records with guest appearances from Styles P, Kool Keith, Method Man, RZA, GZA and Inspectah Deck.