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One-On-One with Ghostface Killah

BY DAVID HOPPER | Feature Writer

The DM's David Hopper got a chance to speak with with Ghostface Killah before his performance Friday night at the Lyric. A member of the influential rap group the Wu-Tang Clan, the 39-year-old recently released his eighth studio album “Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City.”

What do you like about performing?
I love the energy from the crowd more than anything.

When the crowd is into it, it just carries you. It just gives me a battery and I do what I do. I love it.

Talk about your writing process. Do you think of rhymes throughout the day?
I think of rhymes throughout the day sometimes.

When the beat is there, it’s better. When the beat is there it is 1,000 times better than just writing. The beat is what makes the rhyme that you hear from me come out. The beat is what makes me paint that picture. If it sounds sad, I gotta write something sad. If it sounds hard, I gotta write something hard. If it sounds like murder, I gotta write a murder.

Hip-hop has a long tradition of good storytellers, including yourself, Nas, Slick Rick, etc. Do you think today’s hip-hop is in need of more good storytellers?
Most definitely; anyone with a sense of creativity.

Everything is so much about money, clothes and jewelry. It makes all rap the same. It limits the game.

There’s a million other things to talk about. It’s closing too many doors. Every time you’re going to hear about Gucci and Louis. It’s like same some new words.

You went with more of an R&B sound on your new album. Do you have any other departures planned? Are there other genres you want to explore?
I don’t really think about it too much like that. There’s other things I would like to work on.

I want to do an album with D-Block and Cappadonna.

I have another album but I don’t want to say it ‘cause I don’t want no one to steal my idea. I want to tell y’all that this is the beginning for me. I haven’t gave y’all my best yet. What I gave y’all was “Supreme Clientele,” and all that was like an appetizer.

Rap from the South seems to have had the most commercial success over the last decade. Do you think eventually East Coast rappers will start to produce more hits?
I think that one day it’s all going to come back, but it’s going to be diverse. The East Coast is going to try to get their play in there to a degree.

The South will produce hits to a degree. I believe that the real (hip-hop) is going to survive.

You have sampled many ‘60s and ‘70s soul musicians over the years. Talk about your favorite soul artists and how they influenced you.

The Stylistics, The Delfonics, Blue Magic, New Birth, Bloodstone, The Moments, The Whatnots, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, even Stevie Wonder.

That’s what made me the man I am today.

I used to listen to that music when I was like four or five years ago.

My mom used to play it and I’d get kicked out the living room and you could hear it coming through the doors. And you grow with that, but it sounded so beautiful.

That’s why a lot of times I use a lot of soul samples and even sing over the words with certain songs because I can’t get it out of my system. That’s what I was born off of. I was made off that. It influenced me to introduce that on a hip-hop level.

Show the world that this is fly material right here that y’all are missing. It influenced me big time, more than rap music. That was music you could feel, nowadays they don’t make music you can feel.

Do you have a favorite hip-hop record?
There’s a couple of them. “Hey Young World” by Slick Rick, “The Show” by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, “Eric B. For President” by Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Check The Rhime.”

Talk about your role in the beat making.

Usually people send me beats.

If I feel like something needs to be added or the beat needs to be stopped then I’ll tell them what I’d like to add.

What do you think has been the reason for your longevity?
Just keeping my ear to what’s goin’ on, being around a lot of young people. My friends that be around me are on the blocks and they keep their ear to the streets.

I like good beats. It’s for the love of the sport. I love it when I get good music. I don’t ever see when I’m going to get tired.

What advice would you give to aspiring hip-hopartists?
You got to have a good ear for music.

Your imagination has got to be real good. Don’t be afraid with whatever you think of to test it out and try it. You never know where it might lead.

Work hard. Practice your lyrical skills very, very hard.

Try to say things that people don’t say. Try to go other ways but still try to keep the beat.

Be on top of your lawyers, your manager. If you’re trying to come out, you gotta go where it’s happening.

Look at the back of the CD and look where Def Jam (Records) is at or Interscope. Go where all the big parties are at with your CDs.

You can’t stay in one spot in Mississippi when there’s no record labels here.

Constantly do it, you can’t give up. You got to keep doing it until you make yourself heard.

Go to college radio stations and promote it to the best of your ability.

What can you say about your upcoming collaboration with Raekwon and Method Man?
It’s coming in December. It’s a good album, nice album. I’ve laid down most my lyrics.

When can we expect a new Wu-Tang album?
Some time in the summertime.