Three months ago, the Wu-Tang Clan were planning to come back with a vengeance. They had just regrouped for a live show in New Jersey, and immediately decided to recapture the energy on wax by recording all-new material together. But the very day after that show — a show Ol’ Dirty Bastard missed out on, because he arrived too late — all their plans fell apart when the rapper collapsed in the lounge of Wu-Tang’s studio and died of an overdose.
“What happened was, I wanted to do [the album],” RZA said. “I had everybody in. Dirty was right there, you know what I mean? But now that he’s not in like that, it’s going to take some time.”
So instead, the surviving Clan members have recorded a track, the first time in “three years or more” that they’ve done so together, in tribute to the late rapper to be included on ODB’s last album, due out March 22. “I Go Through Life” showcases the various members of the Wu-Tang as they “speak about what happened, what we feel about it, who [ODB] is, what he meant to us,” RZA said. One of the lyrics reflects their wish that they could turn back the clock: “I go through life pretending/ That time will change the ending.”
“But nah, what’s done is done,” RZA said. “Nothing won’t change it. What’s done can’t be undone. We all love ODB, we’re all going to miss him. ODB lives on, because Wu-Tang is forever. This song is a tribute to his cause, his life. It feels good.”
It doesn’t just feel good for the Wu-Tang, who knew ODB best and who could use a little catharsis, but for others as well, considering the response RZA said he’s getting for this “very emotional” track.
“Actually, I played it to Quentin [Tarantino] two weeks ago, he was in the studio, and he went, ‘Man!’ He caught tingles up his spine,” RZA said. “I played it to him again, at the same location, and he caught the same tingles! He had a lot of friends here, and they were all feeling the vibe. Some people are saying that Method Mad has probably the strongest verse on there. He gave a nice pullout.”
Most of the verses were recorded in separate sessions, “the way most things are done these days,” RZA said — half in the studio, half over the Internet. He first snagged Method Man for the initial session in California, and then got GZA, Raekwon and Masta Killa together in New York. Since the rest of the members were in different cities — such as Cappadonna, who was in Miami — RZA sent them files, which they e-mailed back, until he came up with the final version.
Even though it’s going to take a while for the Wu-Tang to “marinate” and come back together like they once hoped, RZA said not to count out a reunion album later in the year, “maybe fourth quarter,” after they get out a few more solo projects: “Let the big boys come out one more time.” So far, Busta Rhymes will executive produce the upcoming Raekwon album — a sort of part two to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx — since 2005 marks the 10th anniversary of that album, RZA said, while he’s going to turn his attention to Method Man.
“Method Man is about to start his new album, and they told him to choose a producer, and he chose me!” RZA said in somewhat disbelief. “Wow. At this level, he can get anyone to do his album, especially for the kind of money he can get his budgets and sh–, excuse my language. But he asked me.”
RZA’s also hoping to break a few new artists with the help of Damon Dash and his new record label (which will be releasing the ODB album jointly with the Wu imprint), such as a relatively unknown singer who will be featured on his score for the upcoming Jet Li movie “Unleashed,” as well as a few West Coast rappers. And just to keep it interesting, RZA’s got a more well-known singer he’s been tinkering around with — and not someone you would suspect.
“I don’t want to blow the whistle,” he said, “but me and Pink have been hanging together the past four days, working on her stuff. She’s bringing me in for my particular element; I’m bringing the grunge. She’s cool; she’s got it rocking. It’s epic. You’re going to enjoy it. So it’s going to be one of those years. A lot of product is going to come out of my camp.”