NEW YORK — We've heard P. Diddy and Fabolous rhyme about trading it all for their soulmates, but Staten Island rapper Cappadonna has literally lived up to the mantra. Eleven months ago, Cap, who was on the outs with his wife, gave up many of his worldly possessions and decided to take pilgrimages on the pavement.
"I was actually living in the street," the lyricist, who has lived in Baltimore for the past four years, often working as a cab driver, said Tuesday. "It was by choice. But it was more of my way of rebelling against the materialistic world."
At the time of the conflict, Cap and his wife had let business difficulties hamper their marriage, with many of their problems stemming from disagreements about her role as his manager.
"I think it put a little strain on the relationship," he said. "My wife is very intelligent and on her job, but it was causing a little bit of tension. At the same time, when we were working together, I'm trying to instill the law of discipline in her. [Like,] 'I am the man and I am the ruler of this foundation.' "
The couple did not see eye-to-eye about what Cap thought was the best way to make their marriage stronger.
"I said [to] leave all the materialistic stuff behind and strengthen the foundation of our relationship," he explained. "It can't be based upon money, fortune and fame. It has to be based upon knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I told her, 'Let's leave the house, let's move away for another start.' She didn't want to do that. I said, 'Well, I'm going to go move into the street as a bum. You keep the Cadillacs and Benzes, the houses and all of that.' I gave away [most of] my clothes and all my jewelry. I resorted to the bitterness of the sidewalk. For eight months I [was] walking around, really in a bum state of mind. I came from nothing. For me to go back to nothing, I'm still in my element. The average rich person, for them to go to nothing would probably be their cause of death. "
Fortunately for Cappadonna, he and his wife have since reconciled and he is back at home. But even before he decided to live like a pauper, the former Wu-Tang affiliate wasn't exactly raking in a king's ransom from his proceeds as a rapper.
Despite having two solo albums, a greatest-hits LP and appearances on several Wu projects since 1995, Donna says he's only collected one royalty check in his entire career. His "raggedy" contracts with the RZA's Razor Sharp Records and publishing company was one of the many reasons Don says he did not pop up on Wu-Tang's 2001 LP, Iron Flag, even after receiving a nod to replace the then-incarcerated ODB on 2000's The W.
"Through the course of time, we've never really been in each other's lives like best friends," Cap, whose history with many Clan members traces back to preschool, said of his dealings with Wu-Tang. "Outside of music, us 10 guys never say, 'Yo, let's go to a flick' or 'Can we just hang out today? Let's go to park.' I haven't gotten a call from nobody in the Clan since I don't know when. Nobody ever called me like 'Yo, what's going on, what's really good? How are your triplets doing? How are you doing?' It ain't that kind of world." (Although he maintains this sentiment, Cap did mention that he's been in contact with Raekwon and ODB within the past year and that Inspectah Deck appears on his new album).
Cap's world these days includes getting the word out on his two new albums. He's already released one to the underground in Los Angeles, a joint venture with reggae artist Mad Lion called Love Is Love, and has the aptly titled solo LP The Struggle scheduled to come out in August. Despite his musical aspirations, however, Cap still holds down his day job as a cab driver.
"It's not only a good way for me to get a little bit of extra money, it makes me one with the people," he explained of his side occupation. "I hear a lot of different stories in the cab. I done had a lady and her daughter trying to get at me. Some kids come in there and try to jump out my cab. I don't have no boundaries. I'm not dealing with pride and selfishness and other things that limit us from accomplishing what we want to accomplish in life. I go for the gusto. They've got the expression, 'Be all you can be' in the Army. I'mma be all I can be in the world. I'm a master of anything."