Artist: Killah Priest
Interviewer: Alex Breland
With a name like Killah Priest you better have something to say. The name alone is enough to make someone do a double take, but since his guest appearances on albums by the Gravediggaz, GZA, and the ODB in the mid 90s, Killah Priest's lyrics have caused the rap world to do a double take and often press replay. Since forming the Wu-affiliated Sunz of Man in 1995, the Bed Stuy native has generated critical acclaim with his solo albums, Heavy Mental, and Priesthood. With a mixtape on the streets and an album on the way, Killah Priest sat down for a candid interview with SoundSlam, discussing everything under the sun from collaborations with Nas, to his thoughts on Condoleeza Rice. Left click the scroll down arrow, read-on, and learn just why many are awaiting his Offering.
SoundSlam: Your mixtape, A Prelude to the Offering is out right now, and The Offering, which will be out soon, is the official album. What do you have to offer to the industry after over a decade involved?
Killah Priest: Straight up bringing them back. Definitely bringing them back to real street Hip-Hop, to real lyrics, concepts, and everything as far as The Offering is concerned.
SoundSlam: Why the indie route, versus signing with a major?
Killah Priest: Oh, with indie you get to do a lot more. You have a lot more control of where you want to put your material. I think it's very good. You see way more money. That should be foremost. You know these indie labels are offering like 8 dollars a record, as opposed to just getting 50 cents to a dollar [on a major] you know?
SoundSlam: Ok. What can we expect from the new album in terms of collaborations, production, and themes?
Killah Priest: Collaborations, you can expect to hear me and Nas. Not the one that everybody heard [Crime Cardinals]. I know they waiting, me and immortal technique, me and The Four Horsemen. And as far as beats, we gonna bring it back to some straight street Hip Hop. Beats that's not really heard, but you know, on some new street Hip Hop s**t.
SoundSlam: For sure. On the mixtape you say, "Ya'll a bunch of wannabees either a Tupac or another BIG/ Here's a jewel for you rapper be yourself/ but you scared to do that cause you won't see no wealth." What do you think has been the cost of not compromising yourself in the music industry?
Killah Priest: I think that has built a stronger fan base, let them know everything is real and I won't give up. I think that me being me, and not selling out to this white corporation, to these movements that they setting up to f***ing dilute rap as an art form, I think is sickening. I think me not giving up is a stance, as one of the ones that stand-up for the original art, from where it started from, and that's the street corners.
SoundSlam: Explain your name, Killah Priest?
Killah Priest: Killah Priest was given to me by 60 Second Assassin, and the Rza. I was always dropping biblical sense in there, and you know, street knowledge. Then also I was battling a lot. So that's where the name Killah Priest came from.
SoundSlam: What's your religious affiliation?
Killah Priest:I have no religion. I don't believe in any religion cause I think, like I've said before, religion comes from the greek word religio, which means to divide...What I do come from is nationality, I do study nationality. I'm a nationalist. It's a form of belief that god gave man law, and that he didn't give him religion. He gave man law. So I have no religious background, but I do study with Israelites and I study with the 5 percent.
SoundSlam: On the track "B.I.B.L.E." you say, "See, look into my eyes brethren/ that's the lies of a Reverend/ Why should you die to go to heaven/ The Earth is already in space/ The bible I embrace/ A difficult task I had to take." Can you explain those lines for us?
Killah Priest: [laughs] Yeah, its like the earth is already in space... and preachers be telling you to sell out because heaven and hell is a condition, a condition played out on the earth. And they believe that. They want us to believe that heaven exists only after you die, but that's just a form of control. So that's why when you really read the "B.I.B.L.E." and 'I say the bible I embrace/ A difficult task I had to take"... it mean I had to go through a lot, you know even asking my pastor. At the time I went to church with my moms and stuff, and my best friend, so asking him all of these things and trying not to be in a box or the condition, I asked him about all of this. [Reciting his lyrics to himself] '...I had to take, I studied till my eyes was swollen/ then I arose...' that's when I found out we were the chosen. Black people were the original people and that's in the scripture. That's what I said. We are the original Hebrew people. That's recorded in the bible. And...we're still here today.
SoundSlam: Cool, cause in "Things We Share," you basically allude to what you just said, that Moses and Jesus, among other people, were black. How do you think this should affect black people's approach to religion, if we know that Moses and Jesus are black? You know if we believe that...
Killah Priest: Exactly, because you can find that out by just looking at the Egyptians. The Egyptians were, they were a black nation. They're still black ... Moses when he was king of Egypt was mistaken as a pharaoh. So in order to mistake him as a pharaoh, that means he must have had looked just like 'em. Laughs. You know what I mean. So that would make the Hebrew nation the same color as the Egyptians. Wowwww...
SoundSlam: Switching topics a little bit. How did The Four Horsemen come about?
Killah Priest: Oh, the Four Horsemen came about by me, and Canibus um, we was talking on the phone one day and that, that was it. He already knew Ras Kass, and I bumped into Kurupt, and next thing you know they called for me to come out to LA. I came out there and did some recording and that was it.
SoundSlam: Now a lot of people think of Kurupt as a west coast gangsta, and would probably put you, Rass kass, and Canibus into some conscious box, you know what I mean? Just tell me a little bit about what Kurupt spits and what you think of his lyrical content.
Killah Priest: I think Kurput has an element. I think he's very lyrical first. See a lot of people trying to put us in a different, conscious box...but we also lyrical...
Killah Priest: ...but how you articulate it and how you put it in your verse, you know what I mean...Just calling the government out is not going to do it. We are MCs first and this is what this art is about. It's just that through blessings we just happen to put the truth up in there and people can hear it.
SoundSlam: You said you spend some time in LA. How did that affect your rap style, if it all?
Killah Priest: Definitely, man. I'm in LA right now. It's just love. You know the sun... it's a good place to chill if you don't get caught up in that other s**t. And I don't be a part of that...so you know it's love. It's a very beautiful place. The sun is here. It's all about meditating and taking your time.
SoundSlam: When you're on the road or out of town in LA, what do you miss most about home and Brooklyn?
Killah Priest: I miss, you know, that's the foundation. What I miss about that, is the cats on the street. I mean, everybody you see on the street snapping and just keeping it real on the corner. You know sometimes it may sell, but I want to get rid of the dope fiends in our neighborhoods, and all of that, and then drugs period. And that's not just a one-man fight. So, I can't really say I miss that. So, I don't really miss anything about the hood except my homeboys. I want to make sure all of them is doing good, or with me. Most of my boys is doing good. They got good jobs.
SoundSlam: Lets switch to some current events. What are your thoughts on Oprah and her little drama with the Hip Hop industry?
Killah Priest: Who, Oprah Winfrey?
SoundSlam: Yeah, and her beef with Ludacris...
Killah Priest: [Surprised] Oprah got beef with the Hip Hop industry?
Killah Priest: All I can say on that is that Oprah makes a lot of money, help the situation out, stop arguing with it. But if she's talking about how dudes be talking about people, I mean calling women bitches and everything, we do need to stop that. For the other side of that, we do not stop calling our women bitches, stop calling each other n***as in a negative aspect, and stop all of this killing, and talk about how much we killing each other and glorifying that. Now on the other aspect Oprah Winfrey is the big titty of America. You know what I mean? She's the new modern day...you know, they all like the pimp...She need to step up and tell the truth too. And support real Hip Hop artists, and step up in the front. I'm tired of everybody beating down Hip Hop like it's some type of gangsta hoe.
SoundSlam: It seems like in the next presidential race, they're talking about Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice running for president. Then you've got Barrack Obama and Bill Richardson possibly running for vice president. Given that, what type of progress do you think we're making towards equality in the states?
Killah Priest: I think that the new government coming up behind them [the Bush administration], I mean all of those people up there is puppets. They can do whatever they gotta do, or they just volunteer to do it. You know Condoleeza Rice, you know whoever it is, if it's Clinton's wife, all of them, they sit up there and they act like they doing [something], but they all read off of prompters because...the hidden hand behind them. And it's so important for our kids to understand that. It's like everything they put up [in] this world. First of all this whole government is rude, they gangsta. They take over countries. They bomb them...What they try to do, they don't like to glorify the gangsta but they do it in their movies. But they don't want us imitating that, no they don't even care if we do. They just penalize us if we do. But they glorify when they do it. So yeah, I think that the government, and I think that Condoleeza Rice is a part of a situation she doesn't even understand what's she's in. Being a sister you gotta step your game up.
SoundSlam: If you had to collaborate with a female artist for an album, or had to add a female member to The Four Horsemen who would it be?
Killah Priest: Lauryn?
Killah Priest: Yup. It would be Lauryn Hill or Eva Grace.
SoundSlam: Lauryn Hill or who?
Killah Priest: Eva Grace, this young lady I'm working with.
SoundSlam: Okay. Why them?
Killah Priest: Why them? Cause they got some type of brains in their skull. They ain't just gonna talk about bitches, or all that s**t.
SoundSlam: ...Anyway, in the song with Nas you say, "I'm like Da Vinci my pen squeeze out sculptures." What do you think are your three best sculptures?
Killah Priest: Oh, my three best sculptures would have to be "Ghetto Jesus," it would have to be "Beautiful," and "Essential."
SoundSlam: In the same song you say "my Garden of Eden is in an apartment where they puff they trees in." Explain when you're most at peace or in that state where you can produce your best music.
Killah Priest: Yeah exactly. It's in the crib. My Garden of Eden is where I begin it at. I begin writing in [apartments]...just blowing out trees. But my best spot...there's nothing I like more than a brand new fresh notebook.