Not sure if t his was ever posted.
What was your writing process like at the time?
Real slow. I donât say slow in the sense that it necessarily took me a long time to finish what Iâm writing. I mean, Raekwon and Ghostface can step in and record a song in about forty-five minutes. I on the other hand, would often go back and finish rhymes that I started. I would say I pieced things together slowly then. Songs generally take me two to three days to write. Sometimes I take different sentences and put them together.
For a few tracks on the album I remember, the beat would be running and itâd be four oâclock in the afternoon. Weâd be smoking and you know how weed takes its toll on you. Iâd just get tired and sit in the same spot all day. Iâd take a nap, hang out, nap later, woke up and finish a track. RZA would leave and go to the city to handle business. Heâd come home hours later and Iâd still be writing same shit I started when he left .
What did you think of RZAâs beats for Liquid Swords when he first showed them to you?
I loved them. A lot of them had a grimey, rock-like feel to them. The majority of the album was done at RZAâs house, in the basement. It was small, two-bedroom apartment where he showed me all the beats he had made. We did a lot of stuff there, including Tical I think, so itâs hard to remember the exact moment, or time, he showed me which beat. I just remember absolutely loving them.
The album heavily samples the film Shogun Assassin and keeps a dark atmosphere throughout its course. Were you trying to stick to a theme for the album?
Itâs the story of a shogun told through different narratives and scenarios. Itâs not a theme, but more like a thread throughout the album.
Had you seen Shogun Assassin by then?
No, I hadnât actually. While we were mastering the album, RZA asked the engineer to go out and get it and bring it back to us. Thatâs when I watched it. I loved it immediately and thought it fit with the album well.
Did you feel like you made a classic after it was done?
Its hard to say something is gonna be classic or not. But I can say that I felt the magic with that one. I actually saw it grow and come together, and felt that it was special as we were doing it.
Youâve never talked real in-depth about Liquid Swords before. Are you down to talk about each track on the album?
Sure, letâs do it.
âLiquid SwordsââThis track is just braggadocios. It isnât meant to stand for anything. Iâm talking about my skills and how Iâm better than the rest. Usually I take a beat home and write to it for a few days, but it wasnât like that with this track. I think RZA played the beat for me and I just spit to it right there. The hook was actually a routine from around â84 that me RZA and Olâ Dirty would do:
"Duel Of The Iron Mic"âThis might be my favorite track on the album. I like how I delivered on this one, and I love RZA's beat. I remember writing to it and that it took me a while because I was trying different things. I remember being so happy after Ol' Dirty blessed the track like he did. I love how the recording sounds too. When we perform this song live, the music gets real low for Deckâs part, and then it comes in real loud and it still always gets me hype. I also love the skit at the beginning. I just love that shit.
âLiving In The World TodayââI just remember sitting in the basement for hours and writing it over and over. I donât know what actually transpired during the making of this. But as far as the song itself, it was another old-school hook taken from a crew we knew from the Bronx. They used to say something like: âAnd if you listen to me rap today, you be hearing the sounds that my crew will say. And we know you wish you can write them, weâll donât bite them, well okayâ¦â. So I flipped it and said: âWell if youâre living in the world today, youâll be listening to the slang that the Wu-Tang sayâ¦â and so on. Itâs just another old-school hook we took and had some fun with.
âGoldââThis is a great track. I really love the beat a lot. It has sorta has a rock vibe to it, and Meth helped with the hook. The whole song is on a street-hustling-vibe tip. The whole song is talking about hustling and stuff like that, but I donât say it plainly. Itâs a street tale, not a letâs-get-your-grind-on song. And the hook is actually kind of taken from the Diana Ross and the Supremes song, âAinât No Mountain High Enough.â In the â80s weâd used to harmonize a lot and we sang a similar hook: âNo neighborhood is rough enough, there is no clip thatâs full enoughâ¦ See? Like that. We used to sing the chorus and harmonize with each other. Thatâs how that one came bout.
âCold WorldââJust another dark, gritty street tale. Normally, when I hear a beat, I already know where to go with it. I can picture the track and just vibe off it. As soon as I heard the beat to âCold World,â I knew it would be another inner-city story. And the beginning is obviously taken from âThe Night Before Christmas.â
I have this cousin who we call Life. He sang a little bit of background on the album, and he was in the studio when we were making this track. Heâs got a great voice, not a great as it used to be , but heâs been singing his whole life. He was singing Stevie Wonderâs âRocket Love,â where the hook goes, âTook me riding in your rocket, gave me a star, but at a half a mile from heaven, you dropped me back down to this cold, cold world.â RZA was the one who told Life to change the words and use it as a hook. So we added the hook and we got Deck on it and boom! Thatâs how that one went.
âLabelsââMy whole negative experience with Cold Chillinâ was part of why I made this songâbut it wasnât the main reason. I wasnât deliberately trying to write a song dedicated to problems with labels and so onâI just threw Cold Chillinâ in there because they were an established label at one time. It actually started when I heard my friend say: âTommy ainât my boy!â Then it just kind of clicked in my head to use âTommyâ and âBoy.â I mean, I like doing songs based around wordplay with one theme. I actually love doing those kinds of songs. It comes naturally to me for my rhymes to have double meanings.
â4th ChamberââCrazy, crazy song. If I ever do a rock album, not saying I would, but if I did, it would have to be on that kind of vibe. It would musically have to sound like âRock Boxâ from Run DMC. Making â4th Chamberâ was crazy because I didnât have a rhyme ready for that one. Thatâs why I went last on it . Plus, Ghost killed it with his verse so I knew I had to come correct.
This is one of three songs that crowds always go crazy for when we do a Wu show. As soon as they hear the they just explode. Itâs not even a GZA song to meâitâs a Wu-Tang song. And Ghostâs verse is incredible to me. He delivered so well. I donât know if you saw the video, I directed that too. This song, the guest verses, the video, the crowd response, all turned out perfect for this one.
âShadowboxinââMeth delivered well on this one too. I even do his verse when I do it live! I mean, âI breaks it down to the down bristle,â is so dope. Itâs hard not to rap along to this one. Just like when I hear âTriumph,â itâs hard not to do Deckâs verse. I think I was actually the filler for that song anyways . It always seemed more like Methâs track. I remember RZA telling me I needed to get on it, so he put me in between. Itâs an incredible song though, and I love performing it. Itâs just another emcee lyrical joint with crazy smooth cadences.
âKillah HillsââThis is another one of my favorites. Itâs a very special song as far as the albumâs concerned because itâs long as hell and has no hook. Itâs up-tempo and is straight through. My cousin Life who did the hook on âCold Worldâ also did some singing on this too. This song has a lot of depth in terms of sound âcause we used to layer weird shit over it.
For example, myself and Killah Priest were in the city one day with a portable ADAT recorder I just bought. We were just walking around, going to stores, buying water, juice, whatever, and just recording the random stuff, you know, just picking up sounds and shit. I think we recorded the Hells Angels riding by too. RZA was in a restaurant talking to some guy, and we were banging forks on the tables, and we just recoded all those sounds too . So we incorporated all that into the production.
As a song, itâs a street story, but not told in a regular street way. Iâm talking about slanging on the block, but not just your average street dealer. These were more sophisticated cats. Some of it came from a documentary I saw on the infamous Pablo Escobar. He was sending judges intimate photos of their wives and things like that. I think this is my first real Mafioso track. Itâs like a dense, short film.
âInvestigative ReportsââI donât remember this one that much. RZA kicked us the beat and Rae just set it off. RZA decided to put all that news footage in there and U-God did the hook and I just followed it up. This one was just all of us doing our parts. I think it was just a simple track we put together.
âSwordsmanââThis is another one of those hard ones that I love. The beat just knocks. The hook also came from a routine we used to sing a long time ago. But like I said, we used to harmonize often back then: âEvery emcee has his place, to begin in the emcee race.â The melody is from an Earth, Wind and Fire track. Itâs just a dope, recycled hook. I love this song a lot too. I think I delivered well on it.
âI Gotcha BackââThis was a short rhyme I wrote for one of my nephews. When I said, âMy lifestyle so far from well, couldâve wrote a book called Age Twelve and Going Through Hell.â Itâs for my nephew who was twelve at the time, and whose father, my brother, had been locked up since â88. So he wasnât around for my nephew when times were rough, so I wanted to up my nephew a bit with this track.
It was actually part of the soundtrack for the movie Fresh. I donât know if a lot of people know this, but I directed the video for that song. The interesting thing about that is how the video blends in with the movie itself. I had two nephews in the video, they were both real young at the time. And in video, they both had met up and shots rang out from some young gangsters. Itâs a shame because both those kids in the video, both nephews of mine, ended up getting in trouble for ringing out shots and are both doing time right now. Itâs kind of ironic. One of my nephews ended up getting eights years for that shit. So the whole song is a sad irony to me now.
âB.I.B.L.E.ââI really wanted to get Priest on the album. And when I did, he said he could cover the whole track, so we let him do it. Itâs incredible to me, man. Some people still tell me that that itâs their favorite song off the album. I mean, itâs a really deep song. He broke down lots of things: preachers, ministries, churches, details, and a lot of insight on a lot of stuff. âThe earthâs already in space, your bible I embrace, a difficult task I had to takeâ¦â The songâs just perfect and ends the record out brilliantly.