Cappadonna | Still Holdin’ On

cappadonna-the-pilgrimageHis ability to sound like he’s singing a rap song when answering my questions is somewhat of a feat.

Cappadonna

Cappadonna was in high spirits from the start of the interview as he yelled, “Yeahh! Wooo! What’s goin’ on!” before I even said a word. Most of his career was spent supporting and performing in the Wu-Tang Clan, but since 1998, he has released a handful of solo albums with the help of some members of the Clan. His dedication to inspire and simultaneously warn newcomers of the obstacles in the rap game is revering. His ability to continue doing what he loves over the years is somewhat of a feat, as is his ability to sound like he’s singing a rap song when answering my questions.

 

First off, I’d like to know why you became an emcee.

Yo, I think the emcee decided to become me! Yeah, that’s how it went down, man. I didn’t even know I was becoming an emcee, to tell you the truth. Someone told me that they was an emcee, and I was like, “Cool, you an emcee, well I’m an NBA ball player.” They was like, “I don’t get it.” So I said, “You think you can just go join the game, just go join the Knicks?” He was like, “No.” But I says, “You good, though; you can do what you be doin’ with that ball.” He’s like, “Yeah, but I’m not down with that team.” I was like, “Ohhh.” [Laughs]

You worked with the Wu-Tang Clan for years and were all over the album Wu-Tang Forever. Why are you considered the unofficial tenth member and not the official tenth member?

It’s all a matter of how you view things, ya know? I wasn’t signed with the group, but I’ve always been there since day one, before we was Wu-Tang. I was always there; I’m the one that put that battery in like that. Yeah, I was the king!

Inspectah Deck appears on a couple tracks on your new album, The Pilgrimage. Do you keep in contact with other members from Wu-Tang? If so, who are you closest with?

Well, you know, me and Deck got the same wife, so we able to do songs together.

What do you mean by “the same wife?”

Yeah, we got the same wife. You share the same wife you can share the same mic. Holla at ya scholar! Yeah, we all sometimes ball up in it; you know what we do.

Clips from the TV show Kung Fu are sampled on The Pilgrimage. Could you tell me the importance that Kung Fu has in both Wu-Tang’s music and your solo work?

Not only is it a way of defending yourself in time of battle, but it also means you have a great variety of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding that is necessary to overcome some of these obstacles in our life right now. We take all of those ideologies and sum it up into a great sword, and then we come with the sword of righteousness on every occasion, and that’s how we keep that freakin’ crowd blazin’.

What’s the meaning behind the title of The Pilgrimage?

The Pilgrimage means journey, so this album is a portion of my journey into many short journeys that I’ve gone through within my journeys—through the good, the bad, and the ugly—to achieve a higher understanding in a sensible growth and development that’s appealing to the people and all of my listeners. But not only them, but those that need enlightenment, and some encouragement and hope to their course of life to overcome, ’cause then it’s all peace and calms.

So it’s a pilgrimage within yourself and within your career.

Right, and it’s like the Yellow Brick Road. It’s like you and that Yellow Brick Road, and you got Toto with you and the scarecrow and everybody, and they’re all searching for something and facing obstacles, but the main part of the story is that what they were searching for, what they discovered in the end, is that they all already had it inside.

Is there a track you’re most proud of on the album?

I’m proud of the whole album, yo. I’m proud to have been able to take them grassroots and take all of my street knowledge and everything that was once little or nothing and put it all together and make that album from scratch, and to receive a response, and to have all the people dedicate themselves was a blessing to me. That’s where I get my merits.

Last I heard, you have five kids, including triplets.

Yeah, just like that.

What part do they play in your inspiration and career?

The part they play is that all my proceeds go to them! [Laughs]

Your lyrics frequently make references to alcohol, drugs, and guns. How big of a role do these things play in your life?

Those are some of the obstacles and tests. They usually place those things right in your path on your path of righteousness. Like when you’re starting to do good, there’s usually something there in that path. It might be shaped in the form of a man, but it could be a big bad one in disguise, you know what I mean? It could be a woman, it could be weed—Mary Jane, how about that? [Laughs] It’s like whatever kind of obstacles are in your path, I got to speak about that, because when we walk in the valley of the shadow of death, those are the evils we have to overcome and show no fear against. We got to be strong; we can’t let it seep through us. Some of those obstacles can become a bully in our life. You ever see that blunt? It sometimes has you hanging on your knees. It’s like, oh man, just one toke one toke, one drink one drink, one hit one hit.

It never ends up just being one, does it?

Yeah, yeah. I got to keep putting that out there, so those coming behind me can know that it’s there, and it’s always gonna be there. When you look at me and see me still holdin’ on, that gives you strength; that’s what keeps the hope.

In the song, “Put God First,” there’s a line “Mad Cabbage/ get your money/ you turn savage/ you fuckin’ backstabbers.” Who’s this in reference to?

Yeah, that’s about anybody trying to hold the kid down, to keep me from getting to the top: hating on me, trying to tell me that my songs ain’t right, I ain’t right, what I believe ain’t right. It’s like, hey man, to each his own on the microphone, man.

I saw your video for “Milk this Cow” and really dug both the song and video. Could you tell me a bit about that song?

They sometimes say that milk is sweeter than honey. You know that milk was our first meal right there. It’s like from the milk to the milk. The milk of the land is what we understand, you know what I mean? It’s like, yo, we just gonna keep milkin’ that cow, because that’s what makes strong bones. God already said, “If the bones are anointed, none of their bones shall be broken.” At this time we must be able to truthfully say that milking this cow is the best way we know how.

I appreciate your time and I’m excited for what’s next.

Yeah, tell everybody I said hi and praise the Lord. | Alex Schreiber

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