Killah Priest has done a little bit of everything in his career. As one of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most famous affiliates, he has appeared on numerous classic Wu albums and songs, including GZA’s “4th Chamber” and “B.I.B.L.E.” and O.D.B.’s “Protect Ya Neck II The Zoo,” along with being around the early days of the Wu-Tang.
As the Wu-Tang Clan celebrates the 20th anniversary of its debut album Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, the Brooklyn MC opened up to XXL this week about some of his earliest memories with the Clan, his memories of O.D.B. and how he almost became the group’s ninth member. —B.J. Steiner
XXL: What was it like the early days of the Wu-Tang?
Killah Priest: It was fun, man. It was just family. We would spend a night at RZA’s crib. His girl at the time would be getting mad. We used to chip in for somebody to go shopping and we would be eating, cooking right there. The Chef would be doing it. It was fun. Everybody was hands-on. We were outside, getting to know each other even more because we’d all be staying up at RZA’s crib. I was coming from Brooklyn all the way out there, staying months at his crib, just working on shit.
How did you first meet RZA and the rest of the crew?
Me and GZA go back with RZA years, way back, early ’80s. They watched me grow up so it was like we damn near family. I remember when GZA first told me that his cousin rhymed—I always looked up to the Genius around my way—and he brought RZA over. A couple years passed and he said, “Remember, my cousin? RZA? We’re gonna come out with a group, Wu-Tang.” I said, “That sounds dope.” I’ve been going to the studio ever since he told me about that. GZA told me that he really liked my rhymes. He brought me around the brothers and that was it.
Do you have any good stories from that era?
Ol’ Dirty would be one to stick out. He always had a L on him. We were at Chung King. He would stay twisted, man. He just had a massive fun. He was one of the realest dudes. He put me on lot of songs. We were just trying to find ourselves. We were doing Gravediggaz. Raekwon was doing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… right in the room while me and GZA were working on Liquid Swords right in the other room. [Laughs] It was dope. Method Man already had his album done. Dirty was talking about his. It was a fun time.
What were you thoughts when you first heard the final version of 36 Chambers?
It was different. A lot of samples didn’t get cleared so it was different but it was fulfilling. It was always something that I said: “This is going to change the world when it get out. It’s going to take back it to real hip-hop. We are going to get that East Coast movement poppin’ again.” It was in the midst of Snoop and them destroying everything. It was just a good feeling.
What do you think that the major impact that Wu-Tang has had over the last 20 years?
As far as getting your crew involved and bringing cliques, I think Wu patented that type of movement. Definitely.
You were going to be initially on “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’?”
Of course! I fell asleep, man. It was me and Masta Killa writing and he jumped on it and he killed it. I was asleep. Me and him used to joke about it all the time.
RZA had the beat on and everybody else was already on it. [RZA] was like, “[This last verse] is up in the air for whoever wants to lace this.” We were like, “We gotta make this. We gotta make this.” I don’t know if it was the last song or whatever but we said we gotta make it. So [Masta Killa] and I are writing, friendly competition, and we are just listening, vibing out, a lot of weed is being passed around. I didn’t smoke at the time but we were just chillin’. Time is going on and going on and it was getting late. Everybody had practically already left but we were still in there and I just dozed off. I was still up a little bit and I just heard [Masta Killa] go on the mic and just kill it. “Homicide is legal…” I’m thinking that, “This ain’t nothing.” I’ll just catch it on another end or catch something else. It just happened that he sparked it off. He just spit it and afterwards, he bounced it and then we listened to it and we were like, “Yo! That shit is hard!” and that was the end of it. I think RZA didn’t want anybody else on that joint. That was it. You know, I made it on the Gravediggaz and then started my crew, Sunz Of Man. I tried to be entrepreneur in some ways like RZA and GZA and them.
Do you have regrets that if you had just stayed awake you might have been that ninth member of the Wu-Tang Clan?
Yeah, you know what? I don’t look back. It is the way it is. I don’t look back at it. There’s no regrets or whatever but it is what it is. I’m always here when I’m needed. I don’t look at it that way. I’m happier where I’m at right now.
Previously: Wu-Tang Clan Members Revisit Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers
Method Man Is Filming New Movies With Adam Sandler And The SNL Crew
Method Man On Wu-Tang’s New Album, Chris Brown And Why He’s Not A Rapper
40 Of The Best Lines On Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers