Last Monday at the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, the Wu-Tang Clan minus an incarcerated Ol' Dirty Bastard and a sidelined Cappadonna, who missed a flight showed up in full force, squelching any talk of friction in the rap family.
"It's the Wu," Ghostface Killah said, pointing to the golden "avenging eagle" that adorned his giant Wonder Woman-style bracelet. He said the bird's wings, which are shaped in a "W," represent unity in the Wu-Tang Clan.
"Love, baby," Raekwon said. "Love is the elevation of understanding. We're getting older, we're growing as a family. We're regular, we're sincere, we have hearts. That's what keeps us together the fact that we know we put something together that struck the world."
"We're gonna keep popping it off until the day cats don't have no more air in their lungs," RZA said.
Although they're not breaking up, all of them said they're putting together individual projects.
Method Man, who'll be featured heavily with Redman on the soundtrack to their "How High" comedy in December, said he's taking his time on a third solo album.
"I'm not really working but I'm working," he tried to explain. "When I get the feeling, I go in. It's an in-and-out thing."
While LPs by U-God, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, and GZA are also coming way down the line, RZA, using his alter ego Bobby Digital, will drop Digital Bullet on Tuesday. Raekwon and Ghostface have been working together on their respective albums, R.A.G.U. (February 5) and Bulletproof Wallets (November 13).
As they did with Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Ghostface's Ironman albums, both artists will perform on the bulk of each other's tracks.
"We're gonna give the people what they want," Raekwon said. "Check for a lot of stories, a lot of loops, raw rhymes. We're gonna take it there.
"R.A.G.U. I just looked in the refrigerator one day and peeped it," he continued. "When you break down Ragu, its like 'Rae And Ghost Uniting.' We ain't been around in awhile. We the source of a lot of things that jumped off. A lot of that jewelry that y'all be calling out, we're the source of all that."
"Bulletproof Wallets, that [title] came to me," Ghost said. "I was in a zone one day. That was like a year ago. It sounded tough, so I just wanted to stick with that. We're slang artists that's how we paint our pictures."
Ghost's musical Picasso impression can be heard on the single "Never Be the Same," which features rhymes about being driven to tears by a cheating mate. The smooth, midtempo track is bolstered by Rae and Carl Thomas, who sings the hook. Ghost's "Good Times" is also circulating around; it samples the theme song to the cut's TV show namesake.
Method Man said it's not clear when the Clan will unite on wax for their fourth album. "We gotta take our time with it because it's not a game," he said. "We know people, if they don't listen to anybody else out there, they listen to Wu-Tang and what we're saying. That's why it takes so long."
And although it may be awhile before we see ODB again, RZA said the Clan's wildest member is staying strong.
"The god 'Ol Dirty is going through his trial and tribulations," RZA said of his incarcerated cousin. "We're all in his corner. The situation is definitely a no-good situation, but the god is holding up his head, he's clearing up a lot, so it's gonna be all good."