About the 17-year mark is when most workers start thinking of a gold watch and retirement. Not Wu-Tang Clan founding member Ghostface Killah. Fresh from headlining hip-hop festival Rock The Bells with his Wu-Tang Clan brethren in celebration of their classic debut, “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” Ghostface is still amazed at the love the Staten Island crew receives nearly 20 years after their debut.

“I can’t even tell you what it’s about,” he says. “Maybe because I’m in the middle of it, but I do appreciate it.”

Having wrapped up recording his ninth solo album, “Blue & Cream,” he’s hitting the road before he starts the sequel to his own classic, “Supreme Clientele.”

Before the debut Wu-Tang album, did you ever envision that you’d be seen as icons?

We knew that we was coming to make an impact. When we came with [the first single] “Protect Ya Neck,” we knew we was gonna do something, but I didn’t know how long it would last.

You’ve always had a knack for your abstract use of language.

I like to create different flows. With my stories, I try to go into detail as if I was making a movie. Even when I did “Nutmeg” on “Supreme Clientele” I was just experimenting with rap. I wanted to say a rap that don’t mean s—. Put a bunch of words together that just rhyme and have a nice flow. To put one finger on it and tell you why people respect it, I couldn’t tell you. I just appreciate that people respect what I do.

People take Wu-Tang seriously. People all over the world have the W tattooed on them.

It seems like it’s even more overseas than here. I mean, I’ve never seen a Bad Boy symbol, a Rocafella symbol [tattoo]. They just have straight Wu-Tang. I saw this dude pull his pants down and had [Wu-Tang member] Ol’ Dirty Bastard from his hip to his leg. It must be some s— for a motherf—er to go and ink their body with your emblem.