According to Lamont “U-God” Hawkins, one of the founding members of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, the first lines of their classic song “C.R.E.A.M.” painted the picture perfectly of what growing up in Staten Island’s Park Hill Projects was really like.
“I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times Side, Stayin’ alive was no jive”
Before becoming a part of one of NYC’s all-time greatest exports, U-God’s road to success was one of mythic proportions. For such a storied and hugely influential group, it’s amazing that no members of the Wu-Tang Clan have ever considered putting their stories down on paper rather than on wax. That is, until now. On March 6th, U-God will be releasing his memoir “RAW: My Journey Through the Wu-Tang”. The book is an absolute thrill ride and will most definitely please long-time fans of the group as well as give unknowing readers an amazing journey through an incredible life.
“Raw” is full of jaw-dropping anecdotes about what growing up was like in some of the area’s roughest neighborhoods in the 80’s and full of rich life lessons that were won out of pure perseverance.
“I decided to write this memoir because I grew up in this time where it was a really rough period in New York City,” says U-God about his reasoning for writing the book, “ I always wanted to write my story because I felt like I’m like the last of my breed of the ‘80’s babies. A lot of my people didn’t make it. I’m like the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ of a lot of my people. A couple of my peoples got a hundred years in jail and are never coming home again. A lot of them are still in the hood or messed up on drugs. So I thought, I have to lay the story down not just for me but for my comrades who ain’t around no more. They were around when a lot of these situations happened. So I had to put it down not only for them but for me and for the legacy of the Wu-Tang Clan! So people know what hoops we had to jump through to get to where we are right now.”
Protect Ya Neck
One thing that U-God mentions that brought him and the rest of the Clan a sense of purpose early on was adopting the lessons of the Five-Percent Nation, a subsect of the Nation of Islam.
“When you’re in poverty and you’re black, it’s a totally different subculture in America,” he explains “those degrees and lessons shed light on my situation a little more. I was talking to my daughter once when she was in grade school. For some reason, when kids are in grade school in the inner cities, teachers literally give you no self-esteem. I don’t know if people even know about this going on. My teachers would tell me I ain’t gonna amount to sh-t. The same thing happened to my daughter when she went to grade school. They made her felt like she was stupid until she started getting eighties and nineties and stuff. There is a self-esteem issue going on in the black community. Those lessons helped me to understand how I got here and how my ancestors got here. Why are we in a situation like this in the black community? It gave me that understanding and I could be like ‘you know what? This is all an illusion and this is not going to stop me.’ Whatever I want I can achieve. I can overcome all situations in the most tumultuous environment on the planet!”
Once U-God had met the rest of the group and bonded over things like music and the teachings of the Five-Percent, they knew that their crew had something special and that they needed to it bring to the world.
“Our early stages of pushing towards that goal was going to RZA’s house to get away from all the bullsh-t and all of the turmoil. We’d go there and smoke weed, listen to music, watch kung-fu flicks, talk sh-t and dream about being stars,” remembers U-God, “RZA knew where the talent was on Staten Island. We were the dopest dudes and we all had something in common: we were all Five-Percenters. We all believed in the same system. Don’t eat no pork, no swine. We weren’t uncivilized. We weren’t trying to rob each other or stab each other in the back. We all had the same mentality so we all clicked! Me and Raekwon, we’ve been clicking. Me and Meth, we’ve been clicking. We all grew up in the same project so I’d go down the block and see all of them. We always see each other. The projects are like that where if you go around the corner you’re always going to bump into your brothers. You’re always gonna bump into people that you gravitate to. Usually, it’s because you have the same interests and that’s your crew. And that’s where we’re at.”
Aside from the release of his new book, which is fantastic, U-God is also releasing his fifth solo album “Venom” on March 30th and also tells us to expect big things from the Wu-Tang Clan in 2018.
“We’re always doing our thing. Meth is doing his movie thing, RZA’s putting together documentations, and Raekwon is out there touring. Everybody’s just trying to keep it positive and keep their families well and all that good stuff. We’re trying to get this movie done and everybody’s trying to push that as the next direction. Everybody is just working in their own ways for the benefit of the group. I drop an album, it still makes the group go off. If Meth drops an album, it still makes the group go off. Everything we do is always gonna go back to the foundation of the group.”