The hip-hop clan’s latest release, Wu Tang: The Saga Continues, shows where they’re at in 2017 and as the title suggests, carries on the Wu legacy. The record has a vintage Wu-sound but with an original fresh vibe, and a positive energy injection, all producer Mathematics’ own. It’s 10 songs, plus skits, and features vocal performances by RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspektah Deck, Masta Killa, ODB, Redman, Sean Price and more. Math has been in the Wu camp for years and is the creator of the iconic “W” logo, one of the most iconic emblem in hip-hop.
What has it meant to you to produce this entire Wu-Tang album?
M: It means a lot. As a producer you want to do entire projects, you want to do a complete album from beginning to ending; if I can do a complete album from beginning to ending with my Wu-Tang brothers, that’s beautiful! For it to come out the way it came out it feels great. I’m glad that people are enjoying it and it’s getting the response that it’s getting—it’s surreal.
Congratulations! When you were working on the A Better Tomorrow album with RZA you guys had a conversation where he said that maybe you should make the next Wu album but at the time you said you didn’t feel ready; when did that change?
M: At the time when he brought it to my attention, I didn’t feel ready for a couple of reasons. One of the main reasons I didn’t feel like I was ready was because, you know, this scene that RZA was going through with everybody making that album and even the previous record before it would kind of deter you away. It was a lot, everybody had different types of views, brothers have all grown and developed into their own. Next year Wu-Tang have been in the game 25 years, when we first came in the game everybody was younger, everyone was hanging around each other more, our families didn’t expand how they expanded to this day; we were around each other more and all our thoughts were more in the same direction. Not saying that brothers change but, you grow and you develop and as you grow you grow into your own and everybody has different visions how they want to do things and how they handle what they handling. It’s no secret, everybody wasn’t happy with the music because they didn’t see the direction he was trying to take brothers into. Me being a producer I understood what he was trying to do. Even the songs I made for that album were for that album because I seen his vision, I don’t think everybody saw that.
For this particular album there wasn’t a particular theme. For me it changed when I knew that I could handle it when… it just happened for me, when I decided for myself. I’ve never stopped trying to get better production-wise. There’s always been something boiling in me. I thought let’s just buckle down and let me perfect my craft.
The night that I listened to two albums – [Enter the Wu-Tang] 36 Chambers and [Dr Dre’s The Chronic] 2001, they were the two albums that I listened to from beginning to ending before I started this project. After listening to those two albums and studying what they were doing… you can never try to duplicate either one of those albums, they’re both incredible and hold they own weight, neither sound alike, which is the duty of the producer making an album that sounds different and sounds great. Once I took my notes and applied it to what I was doing, it’s like, I wouldn’t say that I’m mentally ready but I was—it just happened. After listening to those records I got into my production real hard and started formulating this album.
While making the record you isolated yourself from music and were in your own bubble creating, right?
M: Yeah, ‘cause I don’t won’t to be influenced by, or let anybody else affect what I’m doing—I want it to be 100% me! Sometimes you get influenced when you hear other things and I just wanted to be something that came just from me, my emotion, my feelings, just me. I didn’t want to act like I was keeping up with nothing or going back to anything. I just wanted to create.
What feelings and things were you going through while making the record?
M: It’s all in the music. Music is an emotion, it’s a feeling. Every day you go through stuff that changes your feelings. The thing that I had in me, I had a drive, I had a passion. I’ve been producing for years and I’ve been in this game a long time, I felt like right now it’s really time for me to show what I can do. I’m constantly trying to perfect my craft and once I decided to do what I was doing, the passion was there. I was feeling passion, determination and maybe there was a chip on my shoulder of, hey! Look at me! I’m right here! [laughs].
What are some of your favourite moments on Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues?
M: One for sure is “If Time Is Money (Fly Navigation)” with Meth[od Man] because I remember when we first did that. He was writing and when he went into the studio and he was actually spitting that, he went through the whole thing non-stop from beginning to end the first time. I was like, yo, that is fire! “Pearl Harbour” is another one. They all got special moments for me.
The record was created over three years, some of which was spent on the road touring the world; how do you collate work made like that into one cohesive piece?
M: I took my time. That was the thing, I didn’t want to set a time for it to be finished by ‘cause it wouldn’t be right. As a producer sometimes you’re waiting for someone to do their lines, sometimes you’ll get to go in the studio but then other times they’ll do their vocal somewhere else and send it to you… to me it was easy to be patient ‘cause as I’m doing it and getting the pieces, I’m always constantly working on the track trying to make it better; trying to make it a song with beginning, middle and ending, or hook, to make it complete. I’m constantly dealing with the sound because I want the bass to sound right. All of it takes time and it takes time to listen to it too. I’d have to listen to songs over and over and over and over and over and over again until I figure it out. It’s a game of patience and not rushing anything.
How important is your intuition for you when creating?
M: It’s real important because you have to use it, sometimes one thing will spark and you gotta go with it; you get this feeling in your gut. When you hear something you have to capitalise on it, that’s what gets me on a roll. Sometimes when I’m playing a show I can’t wait for it to be over so I can get back to the hotel ‘cause I got my setup there and I can do stuff. You have to rely on your intuition, it’s like knowing without knowing.
How do you feel differently now to when you started the process of making the album?
M: Now I can breathe [laughs]. It’s like—I did it! What I wanted for so long is for the people to hear it, now it’s being heard! It’s great. Now comes the next part, promoting it.
Outside of music what are the things that matter to you?
M: Writing! I love to write. I’m working on a few things now, I’m a vegan so I’m doing a vegan cookbook which is near done. I’m writing stories too, I’ve written a few scripts. For me, anything creative that you can… take your time and use it wisely and enjoy what you do.
Are you a good vegan cook?
M: Oh I’m a great vegan cook!
What’s your speciality?
M: I have a couple. I make everything from scratch. My kids they love when I make vegan ‘beef’ patties. There’s a pasta I make that I really love too. I even make vegan ‘cheese’ from scratch.
I can’t wait to buy that cookbook. I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for almost twenty years.
M: Oh that’s nice! I’m going on ten years vegan, I was vegetarian for twenty years.
As we were talking about before, next year is Wu-Tang’s 25th Anniversary; what do you guys have planned?
M: We’re definitely working a few things. Ghostface [Killah] is working on putting together a new Wu-Tang Clan album. There’s big tours in the works and a few other things. Hopefully you’ll see us somewhere near you soon, I love it Down Under! Thank you, Bianca.
Wu-Tang is forever!!
*Photos courtesy of Math’s IG. Cut n paste collage art by me.