LOYALTY IS ROYALTY: A CONVERSATION WITH MASTA KILLA

Watching a master at work

“Whether you make a dollar or not: if you’re loving what you do, you’re successful.” — Masta Killa

Masta Killa — the legendary Brooklyn, New York-born MC and member of the incomparable Wu Tang Clan — needs no introduction.

No Said Date — his solo debut from June 2004 — further solidified his genius, an expert lyricist with a stoic but deeply profound penchant for delivering introspective and philosophical missives on top of nostalgic, pristine beats from a collection of the premier producers working in hip-hop. A modern classic, the irony befit the last solo work from one of Wu Tang’s most celebrated but mysterious members twenty-one years after Enter The Wu-Tang: (36 Chambers), the group’s own classic debut.

In no rush to follow-up his debut with a dud, Killa dropped his next project over two years later: Made In Brooklyn in 2006. Relevant and topical despite being simultaneously comprised of new and old material, Killa’s follow-up was heralded for back-to-back Bronze Nazareth-produced hits “Street Corners” and “Ringing Bells”.

Six years later, Masta Killa dropped Selling My Soul— one of the single best hip-hop releases of 2012, displaying his trademark spoken word-style raps over more smokey, soulful beats.

On September 26, 2017, Masta Killa will finally release Loyalty Is Royalty, his long-awaited, oft-referenced project on Nature Sounds. Spearheaded by singles “Therapy” (featuring Method Man and Redman) and “OGs Told Me” (featuring Boy Backs and Moe Roc) and appearances from fellow Wu members GZA, RZA and Inspectah Deck as well as verses from departed legends Prodigy and Sean Price, Loyalty Is Royalty is set to become another essential piece of art amongst the discography of both Masta Killa and Wu Tang Clan.

Before the pre-release party for Loyalty Is Royalty, Masta Killa took the time to speak about vegetarianism, the importance of creative expression, family and patience.



ON VEGETARIANISM

I like to do it by example. You’re living it; as long as you’re there to live it, someone can gravitate to it. You can’t force-feed them. You have to let them gravitate to it. If you try to force-feed them, sometimes people will just reject something just because they don’t understand it. But when they observe how healthy you might be and observe your eating habits, they might want to know, “What are they feeding you? Why you do it like that?

Now I can reel you in a little bit. I’ve learned that through the course of me eating this way. I’ve been doing it now for twenty years, and I’ve graduated from the vegetarian to vegan. But everything is in stages — that’s just my philosophy.

How they say: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” If you just keep sparking things, I think in it’s own good time it’ll happen.

c/o Khalik Allah

ON FAMILY

I come from a strong family.

My mother, my father — even though they divorced early — there was a lot of love there. I’m fortunate enough that I had both sets of my grandparents on both sides; a lot of love there.

I grew up… if we didn’t have much in this department, it was made up for with a lot of love in my home.

ON LOYALTY

Family is very big to me, and I think loyalty to family — to self, first and foremost. Because if you’re not loyal to your self, you can’t be loyal to anyone else. And I think loyalty is definitely royalty because it’s the way that you live that reflects your life.

A man’s word is everything.

If you tell me you’re going to be here at 7:00 and you come at 9:00, it’s like you’re not showing the characteristics of your word being bond.

ON PATIENCE

I was blessed that I was able to come from a family (Wu-Tang Clan) that allowed me to hone my skills and sharpen my sword to the point of No Said Date. Remember: “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ ” was my first rhyme! So all those albums — being on …Cuban Linx…, being on Liquid Swords, being on Ironman, being on Forever — all of those albums, I’m still perfecting my craft!

Being in that position was just a blessing for me that I was able to be in that position while learning to then become my own entity that, “OK, yeah I got it now.

I’m just blessed.

I’m just blessed to be in that position. And if it wasn’t for the family, I think things would’ve been totally different.

c/o Khalik Allah

ON LONGEVITY

I think you should always leave some room. First of all, I don’t think there is a top. Like my brother Meth said, “There’s always room for improvement.” If you stay humble to that principle, I think life is always beautiful to be living; to experience another day. To learn something, to teach somebody something; to absorb.

To absorb is even more beautiful to me than to even give it off, because learning is so beautiful to me. So I always leave a little room for growth and development.

ON IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION

Everybody is unique in their own right. I think everyone has a talent in their own right. I think sometimes you tap into it; some people are blessed to tap into it and find it early in life. When you do and it’s your true gift and blessing, then it’s just once you find it — never let it go. Keep building upon it.

I always had a passion for music; I love music. But I’m heavy into sports, as well. I’ve always loved basketball, football, boxing. Sometimes you might not find what you really love or your passion; sometimes you find it late, sometimes you find it early, but to find it is success in itself.

Whether you make a dollar or not: if you’re loving what you do, you’re successful.
c/o Khalik Allah

Written By: Matteo Urella / September 2017

Photography:


A sincere thank you to the incomparable Rashida Watler / Super Femina Entertainment for the graciousness and support.
A sincere thank you to Khalik Allah for the terrific photography.
A sincere thank you to City Winery NYC for the hospitality.