Among the incredibly wide, sometimes more than enough, music alternatives our ears are exposed to, there are some, few, all-time classics that have survived the test of time and have managed to impact every new generation the same way they did with the one existing at the moment of their creation. Wu-Tang Clan is definitely part of this category, and with ease, they are not known as one of the best and most influential hip-hop groups in history for nothing. We had the unique chance of talking to them in Jeddah during Balad Beast 2024, just moments before they took the stage as the main act of the festival, a performance just as powerful as their whole career.
Making music ‘for the children’ is not a simple and good-sounding sentence to be used thoughtlessly. Wu-tang Clan has made this their motto, and the effectiveness of turning their words into action is evident by the level of success their thirty-year-long career has reached. And we do not talk about success in a vain manner; we are not focusing on the material or narcissistic side of fame, but on the real impact words can have, how deep they hit, and how long they can survive the test of time. They have wanted their rhymes and bars to reach all generations, but especially the young ones, who will keep the message alive and guarantee its longevity. For the past decades their method has been proven to be the right one, playing shows nonstop and filling venues every single time, just like today.
At their very own VIP artist area, which looked and felt more like a temporary neighbourhood with a chill vibe, friends, food, and buzz all around them, we sat down with two of the original and legendary members of the clan, Cappadonna and Masta Killa, and the renown producer and DJ, Mathematics. A deep and humble conversation that felt more like a life lesson than an interview.
I’m very happy to be here. It’s an honour to talk to you guys, I’m thrilled! Have you seen the stage here and the way everything is set up?
Cappadonna: I haven’t. I think my brother has.
Mathematics: Yeah, I’ve seen it.
Are you excited?
Mathematics: Anytime we do a show, we are always excited, you know what I mean?
I wanted to ask you about that. How do the moments before taking the stage feel? Do you ever get used to it? Does that feeling ever wear off?
Masta Killa: No, it’s always a blessing, you know, because no one has to care. But we’re here thirty years later; that’s a blessing. You have to stay humble about that.
Mathematics: Look, that’s thirty years on the record. So you have to think before doing that. You have to think about it before, like whether it was like the park jams, the block parties, or the clubs. You know, so to still be doing this and at this magnitude? Blessings.
Cappadonna: The only thing you’re missing is the sun, right? [pointing to the moon necklace I’m wearing.]
I prefer the moon!
Cappadonna: But the moon reflects the light of the sun. Without the sun, though, the moon wouldn’t exist.
Then I need to find it. I’m taking my time to find the right sun (laughs).
Masta Killa: (Laughs) Nice. You’re thinking right.
I’ve noticed the majority of the people at this festival are very young and very fresh. Even in this country, they are very new to the music festival system. I wonder how you guys, from your perspective, perceive the newer generations. The reception to the arts, to the music, etc.
Masta Killa: We love it. That’s how Wu-Tang is forever. We gave it to the babies, to the children. That’s the only way to be forever – to talk to them. You have to teach the babies and then they’ll teach one, and then another. And before you know it, the whole planet knows it.
Cappadonna: Wu-Tang has no age limit. We have old people and young people, crippled, blind, and crazy, coming to hear the word. Because in the beginning, there was a word, right? And the word was with who? Us. So the word was good, and then the word became us. We are the true living word. That might be above your head. I don’t know.
No, no, no. It’s not above! (Laughs)
Cappadonna: (Laughs) It’s inside your head now then, it’s not above.
How have you lived the transformation of performing live through the years, from your time to this? Now it’s more technologically and social media-oriented. How do you feel about it? Do you feel like it was maybe better in the past? Is it good now?
Masta Killa: Everything evolves, but I mean, we’re still here. From then to now, we’re still here. Still relevant. In all places.
“As I became aware of the power of what I was saying, I started writing for other people. I write for the kids. I write for adults. I write to free people from a mental death.” Capadonna
Even if all you see is cell phones filming you.
Masta Killa: It doesn’t matter. All places. 
What do you find inspiring right now?
Mathematics: Life.
Masta Killa: Life in itself as my brother is saying. Getting up every day is a blessing. You can’t take that for granted.
Are you inspired by the people? Or maybe there’s some reference you have, some artists?
Mathematics: I think everything inspires you because sometimes you can hear something that inspires you that you don’t even know it will. One of my favourite songs is Killing…What was the song? It was originally by Roberta Flack. Killing me softly? Yeah, Killing Me Softly. But, you know, I thought she wrote it and that was all. But then she heard it on a plane.
Masta Killa: And decided to do it over?
Mathematics: Yeah. She heard it on a plane and was like, I gotta do it over. She was inspired to do it over. And when she did it, that’s when it really blew up.
Masta Killa: So inspiration can come from anywhere.
Mathematics: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I get inspired by walking, hearing music, and seeing things. Anything can inspire me. Anything can inspire you. Because all it takes is a thought to be created. And if you apply it, that’s your inspiration. If you don’t apply it, you’re lost.
Do you believe in the right place at the right time? Like, is destiny all of this inspiration that comes to you? Or do you just need to search for it?
Mathematics: I think everything is in the right place at the right time. That’s just how you apply it. Apply yourself to that moment in time. It can be special.
Cappadonna: Because time is the observation, calculation, and motion of matter. Without motion, time wouldn’t exist because it’s a measurement.
Masta Killa: Facts, that’s right.
How has the meaning of your music evolved? Has its significance for you changed through the years? Is it the same as when you created the song, or does it acquire a new meaning every time, with every year that passes?
Masta Killa: We spark consciousness. You know, that never gets old.
But it evolves, right?
Masta Killa: Yeah, it evolves. It evolves with you. But consciousness is still light. We turn this off [our heads]. That’s like us in the dark, right? That’s being without knowledge. Someone turned the light bulb on in your head. That’s consciousness. You’ve been sparked. That never gets old. We’re older than the sun, moon, and stars. There’s no birth date for the original man.
Cappadonna: You know what’s interesting? When I first started rapping, I was kind of doing it for myself. But as I became aware of the power of what I was saying, I started writing for other people. I write for the kids. I write for adults. I write to free people from a mental death. I wrote to free them so they could be free. The body could be held captive, but the mind… I free the mind. You know what I’m saying? So that’s my goal and my aim right now.
Mathematics: Just to add on to that, I’m going to take one of my brother0s lyrics from Can It Be All So Simple. It goes to something like, “My first joint and it went gold.” The first joint did go gold, sure. But now we are talking about different things. We just did a song called Claudine, and that’s a song that we can relate to too because now that we’re older, we’re rhyming back and forth. We're talking about all the things that we’ve lost and been through. A lot of us have lost our mothers, you know? So, yeah, as we go, so does your message, or what you’re dealing with, or what you’re projecting.
Do you have any words of wisdom that you believe people should know that might make their lives better? Something you think everyone should think about, consider, or be conscious of?
Masta Killa: For me, I think people should always be conscious of time. Time is something that’s spent, and when it’s spent, you don’t get it back. So make each moment count towards something positive in your life. Because once it’s gone, there’s no way back. So make each moment count. Because life is precious, and it’s not promised. That’s the only message that I would give.
Mathematics: I agree. Live, let live. Enjoy life.