"Long story short, if you wanna know why the Wu-Tang Clan ain't together, you know who to talk to: Bobby Steels, RZA, Rzarector," a dejected U-God said last week of his group.
It's been three years since the Clan have raised their "iron flag," and U-God says the person chiefly to blame is RZA, the head of the musical family's Voltron formation.
In New York to promote the release of his upcoming compilation album, U-Godzilla Presents the Hillside Scramblers, U-God said he gets flashbacks of the early Wu-Tang Clan's glory days. However, as he delved into his memories, the man whose alias is Golden Arms recalled moments that weren't so sweet.
"I learned a lot about slavery," he said about being in the group. "I realized what slavery was. You had them cats that was in the slave master's house, the Uncle Tom cats who'd go back and be like, 'U-God is trying to run over the wall, masta. What do you wanna do?' Before I get a chance to run over the wall, I'd be getting whipped the next morning. That's the way it was going down. Cats was ratting on each other and doing a lot of fish-head stuff."
Although U-God was never actually physically assaulted by any of his "brothers," the deep-voiced MC remembers being demoralized by RZA, the group's main beatmaker and business mind. "One thing that I didn't like about the whole situation of being with Wu-Tang is that RZA always dealt with separation," U-God vented. " 'This n---a is better than that n---a, Ghost is better than you, U-God.' When you deal with separation, you're dealing with the devil and he's supposed to be a righteous brother. You made this man feel better than this man, and it separated us.
"Now it's a reality check that's going to happen," U-God said about the Clan's current estranged state. "Once you get separated mentally, then it's physically and then it's spiritually. [RZA] broke the bond himself and didn't even know it. He left people like myself, [Inspectah] Deck and Masta Killah to fend for themselves, while other cats were already on. Sometimes I would be sitting there trying to talk to him, and he would look past me like he was some type of messiah. He let this music go to his head."
U-God said it took him seven years to get RZA to produce a track for his solo effort; in 1999, RZA finally executive-produced U-God's solo debut, Golden Arms Redemption. Even with that project, however, U-God said he didn't have RZA's full backing.
"When I was doing my first album, I told RZA, 'You only get one chance to mess my stuff up, bro,' " U-God said. " 'You don't rock me right, you ain't getting another chance.' He didn't rock me right, so I'm like, 'Next.' For like 10 years, I've been a loyal soldier to RZA. He was able to tell who's gonna come out, who's not, who's gonna sit by the side and wait. 'Ghost is gonna come, Meth is coming, but U-God, nah, you ain't coming.' I got fed up and got on my own sh--. What I'm doing right now is for me. I'm a grown-ass man right now. So basically I had to put my own situation together."
RZA's spokespeople did not return calls for comment.
RZA isn't the only member of the Clan with whom U-God is especially upset. He and Raekwon have had a falling out, and he's disturbed that ODB went on television and told the world he didn't get support from Wu-Tang while he was in jail. "I was hurt," the self-proclaimed "pound-cake complexion cat" said.
"I found out that [ODB] was in jail with my peoples, and he was going through hell up in there, so we drove up to see him and supported him," U-God continued. "We went to Rikers Island and did a show. We was on the road saying, 'Free 'Ol' Dirty.' We put money to the side for this cat. I don't know if he was getting it, but if he wasn't getting it, he knows who to step to: RZA and [his brother] DeVine. Those are his family. They ain't my family."
But despite his laments, U-God said he's still down to record another Wu-Tang album if they can all come together. "If they want to go to Dre's Aftermath ...," he began, addressing the rumor that the homeless recording group might sign to Dr. Dre's label, "you can go anywhere in this whole industry, it's in your music. You still gonna have to come with the gangsta. I don't know nothing about that [signing], but I know I'm still a part of Wu-Tang Clan. Wherever we land at, we land as a group — that's still my family."
And as he puts it, even family is going to fight at times or maybe all of the time, but love still remains deep down. "That's basically what we're going through, family quarrels over how some people handled the situation," U-God added. "All the stuff we went through, it's a lot of egotistical and dumb stuff."