As one of the most prominent members of The Wu-Tang Clan and as a solo superstar, Ghostface Killah has been in the game for 20 years now. Just don’t call him an ‘old school’ MC.
“I pray to God,” he laughs, “to please never make me an old school MC. Some people have a tendency to lose they flow, nah mean? And once you lose your flow... once you lose your flow, you fucked up. Sometimes, for some people, it’s hard to get it back.”
He’s not in danger of losing his flow anytime soon. His most recent LP, ‘Apollo Kids’, was more than worthy of the legacy of ‘Ironman’ and ‘Supreme Clientele’. His next could see him go head-to-head with DOOM under their ‘DOOMSTARKS’ moniker. “Right now the album is in DOOM's hands,” Ghostface says of the record, which was first announced in 2006. “We've talked about it, I've told him the people want it, but it's like... he been had the records, B! It's on him, nah mean? It's on him! I wish he would have been had it done. It's on DOOM!”
The two MCs will tour Australia together next month on the Rap City bill, which should give them plenty of time to collaborate. It’s a working relationship that goes back to Ghostface’s 2006 LP, ‘FishScale’. “I had this Metal Fingers CD,” he remembers, “but he had no number, no nothin', on it. So I told [manager] Mike [Caruso], 'yo, just find this Metal Fingers right here for me, I need this Metal Fingers'. Mike came back and Metal Fingers was fuckin' DOOM! He came to the studio and played me some beats and stuff like that, and then we just started gettin' it in.”
They’ve got a lot in common, from their love of Marvel Comics (Ghostface’s aliases include Ironman, Tony Starks and Starky Love) to the impersonators they’ve spawned. DOOM is infamous for sending imposters on the road to perform on his behalf, while Ghostface’s unique turns of phrase inspired ‘Big Ghost Chronicles’, an unauthorised blog written in his ‘voice’.
As it happens, the real Ghostface doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with his virtual counterpart. The fake Ghost has been vocal in his distaste for rappers who can sing (i.e. Drake), but the real deal doesn’t see the problem. “Music's music, man, nah mean? Shit. I wish I could fuck around and sing! I'd have all the ladies! I'd have all the ladies, y'feel me?”
Ghostface’s fallen Wu-Tang brother, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, is about to have his identity lifted, too. He’ll be played by Michael K. Williams in upcoming film ‘Dirty White Boy’, a project Ghostface isn’t quite sold on. “Me and Ol' Dirty was close,” he says hesitantly. “We was close. And they ain't come to me for an interview yet, or even talked to me, to be like, 'yo, can you tell me how Ol' Dirty was, and this and that and the third?’ So I hope they just get it right.”
Seven years after his death, ODB is still on Ghost’s mind. “Hell, yeah! I keep the picture right there on my kitchen table... pray for him all the time, all a' that. I keep him right there on the kitchen table. “We both was into Islam, and it did help me understand... that one day we all gonna face the same music. His body is just gone, but his spirit lives on. He just went to another stage... I don't believe in reincarnation and stuff like that, things of that nature. I believe God is a good God, and he is a merciful God, nah mean? Compassionate. I don't believe he would send us back here to keep going through Hell time after time after time after time.
"I believe that what we do here on Earth right now... we are here to get judged. We're being held accountable. You got an angel on your left side and your right side, and they just jottin' down the notes. Y’understand what I'm sayin'? It's a trial. It's a trial. And when your passing comes, on that day of judgement, if your good outweighs your bad, you're in the good seat. But if the bad outweighs the good, you're gonna have to face that music!
“Only God knows the torment that he has, that he's gonna put us through if we was really a messed up person who did no good deeds and a lot of bad deeds. So I understand that. So I know Dirty's there with all his family, my family's with all my family, your family's with your family. Nah mean? I understood life and death, and that's what made it easier for me.”
In fact, Ghostface Killah thinks society could use a little more spirituality. “Oh, sure! Indeed! Yeah, of course! You know why? Because it's a sense of guidance. If you don't know yourself, you don't know where you're goin'. “It's like the world is becoming more corrupt, day by day. More babies are bein' born, and the parents that's bornin' 'em, they already lost. It's like, if your kid is a reflection of you, then what do you think your kid's gonna be? They gonna be lost. These kids, these babies, they need guidance.
“When I was young, church was a good thing. Even though I'm into Islam, you know... your grandparents and them, they was old school. They believed in the church. They believed in God. Nowadays, the kids that's growin' up don't believe in anything. Not even they parents. If they believed in the Word, I believe our kids wouldn't grow up the way they're growin' up. Y'understand what I'm sayin'?
“Families, back in the day, they were closer. Every Sunday they was in that church. And I know it made a difference! Because it's like, yo, it always put you back on track. You hear 'God this', 'God that', you're hearin' his name so much, and it becomes you! He's inside of you!
"I mean, he's in there regardless, but, you know, [church] makes you feel it more, it makes you be like, 'yo, I can't do that, I can't do that'. Nowadays, these kids do anything without no consequences, without nothin' inside. They just doin' it. It's like, yo, of course we need more guidance. Everybody needs guidance. Because don't get me wrong, it's hell out there, man! It's hell! Sometimes these kids don't got nowhere to go, man! They look outside, because the parents is not there to do what they supposed to do, even if it's just to help them read a book... and it's sad, yo. It's very, very, very, very sad.
“So of course I believe we all need guidance. You're never too old for guidance. But as long as you're lovin' your God to the fullest, and you worship him and nothin' else but him, then you're on that path, and he loves you the same way. But even more. Even more. I don't care if your mother had you, and she loves you, God loves you more than your own mother loves you.
“That's where I'm at with mine. People can tell me I'm wrong, but that's my belief. That's what I feel inside, based on what I have studied and what I have read.”
Ghostface Killah plays Rap City at The Arena on Friday June 8 with DOOM and Chino XL.