Photo courtesy of Fong-Sai-U
D.C. emcee Fong-Sai-U is back and breathing more fire than before, both on and off the mic. After releasing his sophomore project Ballads of a Massacre in the middle of 2015, the artist formerly known as Divine has returned in less than a years time with a new album titled “The Last Ronin”.
The Last Ronin is an 18-track album produced entirely by Sai-U. The album features appearances by Prodigal Sunn, Coopdeville, Quincy Banks, Ginger, Click2times, Rip Safron Masson, Alphonso Porter, Shakier, Dan-Igga, Ali Razor, and Artwork.
Never one to hold his tongue Fong-Sai-U told The Real Hip-Hop his opinions on Maybach Music artists Meek Mill and Rick Ross, explained the origins of his relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan, and took us inside his new album, The Last Ronin.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new album, The Last Ronin.
Fong-Sai-U: The Last Ronin is like a samurai that believes in himself, to put it simply. The reason why I called it “The Last Ronin” is because a lot of people are out here believing this bullshit and all these illusions. They believe in clothes and shoes. Nobody believes in their self. They’d rather believe in a car. You believe in what the next man saying but you don’t believe in yourself. That’s one reason I titled it The Last Ronin. The second reason I titled it The Last Ronin is because everybody knows samurai’s got the sharp blades. That’s how my lyrics is on this joint – raw – sharp. It’s like a Ginsu. Plus you got all these niggas out here with cornball rap names and bullshit album titles. I just wanted to bring that raw element back. You heard the joint I did with Prodigal and shit?
TRHH: Yeah. How’d you link up with Prodigal Sunn for the song Enough?
Fong-Sai-U: Oh man, I knew Prodigal Sunn since I was 21. Prodigal know my mom, man. I know all the Wu, but I knew them before it was a Wu. The Five Percenters in DC know the Five Percenters in New York. You basically know everybody from coming back and forth. I used to take Prodigal home from Father Lord house, rest in peace. Father Lord and RZA was good friends. Before Father Lord went to the essence RZA was about to put him on. He put Tha Beggas on that first Killa Bee compilation and that was it because of business. I always knew everybody but it was from a 5% standpoint and at the same time I didn’t wanna get branded. My name is Fong-Sai-U and I didn’t want people thinking I was an offspring of the Wu. Them my brothers. With Prodigal it ain’t business, he’s my brother. It ain’t like I’m trying to get somebody for a feature. That’s me calling my brother up and reaching out. I could have did it before but I needed the right element. The first thing I tell people is the only reason my beats are raw is because I was born in that cycle with the ASR-10. I was born in that cycle where you had to have an ear to make raw beats. I hear imitation RZA beats all the time. Somebody might take a common sample and loop it over and over again and don’t put no beat to it. It’s a wanna-be RZA beat. That’s not the element. The element is to have the ear.
TRHH: Why are you dropping this one so soon after Ballads of a Massacre was released?
Fong-Sai-U: Because with Ballads of a Massacre that was a big fuckin’ mess. I loved the album but I was switching PR people and went with the wrong PR person so basically the album just sat. I still got gems on there that I could drop. This is like an apology. Let me give y’all something to hold on to ‘till next year. I might drop videos from this joint and Ballads. I got some singles on there, like the joint with Res. I shot the video but it wasn’t what I wanted. After I did Ballads I was rushing, man. It was like “promote it, drop it, do a video!” I was doing videos that looked like shit. I was doing ‘em, and I got ‘em, but I never put ‘em out. It was just a rushed job. I was trying to get everything done in a month and it just didn’t add up. I pumped my brakes, slowed down, and did it differently. I took time out and made the other record. You got two records out there so now I can go back and do videos, release singles, and put my feet up until next year. This one is just harder than Ballads. A lot of people had Ballads already, you had it. I didn’t give this joint to nobody because I want people to be surprised like, “holy shit!” This shit is two times harder than any of my shit you heard.
TRHH: What led you to re-make O.C.’s classic record “Time’s Up”?
Fong-Sai-U: Aw, man it was time. It was time, time, time, time, time! Everything I said in that motherfucker is going on right now. I sat on the bleachers and waited to see if somebody was gonna do it and nobody ever did it. I know a lot of emcees that probably could have sonned that song. I don’t know if it was out of respect or whatever. I still listen to some of O.C.’s old shit. I got a connect if I wanted to connect, but when you’re dealing with some cats it’s just best to do your thing. That’s a lesson for anybody trying to get in this game. If you can make hot music by yourself, do it, because you’ll have to deal with a whole bunch of bullshit when you’re trying to get people and everything else. I did it because it was time and it was needed. It’s time for motherfuckers to come correct.
TRHH: The last time we spoke you had some critical comments about Troy Ave. Have you received any backlash for those statements?
Fong-Sai-U: Nah, man. You know why? ‘Cause the nigga pussy, man. Let me tell you something, these niggas still think money makes them hard. How the fuck you think money makes you good? Money don’t make you good, man. I be lookin’ at Meek Mill’s Instagram and he’s saying his jacket cost this much, and he’s driving 5 Bentley’s, motherfucker money don’t make you nothing, man. Money don’t make you a dope lyricist. You’re around some G’s like Jay and them, why don’t you take some tips? When was the last time you saw Jay get on social media and brag about how much he got? Take a picture in front of the money machine? Put the fuckin’ money to his ear? That shit is bullshit. Same shit with Troy Ave. He’s still talking about how much money he got and nobody don’t give a fuck about that nigga. I said what I said and I ain’t take shit back, I ain’t hear shit from it, and it just died out. On the Breakfast Club Angela Yee said something, but she ain’t say my name, because you know everybody feel fickle about saying people’s names. All he said was, “I sold bla, bla, bla and all that money goin’ back to me.” Who gives a fuck, dog? Money don’t make you lyrical. Money does not make you a fuckin’ emcee, man. The shit’s an epidemic.
You got the lord of illusion, Rick Ross. I know the real Rick Ross, my nigga. Fat boy is the lord of illusion. He was on the Breakfast Club and Charlamagne was asking him about the battle with Drake and he said Meek Mill ain’t take no L’s. I give it to the nigga because he can rap. He the only nigga that can spin some shit where you forget about him being a C.O. You forget he stole someone’s whole goddamn lifestyle. You forget he keep trying to rap and now his shit sound wack. It’s bullshit, man. The whole time on the interview he kept talking about money. I’m not saying this because I’m hating, I’m not saying this ‘cause I don’t got no paper, I’m saying this so it’s known – money does not make you a fuckin’ emcee! Money don’t make you hard. The niggas that I know in the street don’t got no money and they ain’t gonna be sitting up there dancing with money up to their ear. Fuck money because at the end of the day when you wack, you wack. I gotta give kudos to the lord of illusions, bka, Ricky “Officer” Ross. Niggas just rap about illusions and shit that ain’t real and make people believe it. I say what I say. Everybody out here acting like it’s a love fest. Everybody quick to talk about people under their breath, but when it comes to speaking your opinion it’s hush-hush.
Everybody is holding hands. Drake sonned that nigga and that’s what it is. It was good for music, now keep it moving. If you ask me, Meek Mill should have kept doing his thing. He’s still trying throw pot shots and Drake surpassed him. A blind man can see he surpassed Meek. How many times you see Drake posing with money? This nigga went in the world and told Rick Ross and everybody that Wale ain’t MMG. Fuck Meek Mill, fuck Rick Ross, and fuck Meek Mill again ‘cause that nigga a bitch. That man called you talking about, “That fat ass lying motherfucker owe you some money,” you keep that between you and that man. That’s that G code shit. That’s how I know that nigga pussy ‘cause the shit he doing is not street. What street nigga air out niggas in public ‘cause a nigga ain’t siding with them in some fuckin’ battle or whatever it may be internally? If it’s internal, you keep that shit internal. You don’t put that shit in the world and let people know what’s going on ‘cause you in your goddamn feelings ‘cause a nigga ain’t side with you when you got your ass whooped by Drake. At this rate don’t come to D.C. You come to D.C. you better come with a whole bunch of security or Ross or whatever. When you diss Wale you dissing the city to a certain extent. The same way if somebody diss you, you ain’t gonna see niggas walkin’ around Philly thinkin’ it’s sweet. Unless he gon’ recant that motherfuckin’ shit he need to stay the fuck outta D.C., straight up. I say that with all conviction. You can look at me as nobody, or as somebody with no money, but Meek Mill need to stay the fuck outta D.C., straight up!
I ain’t for nobody, I’m just keeping it real. It’s too many niggas that’s lords of illusions out here and Troy Ave is one of ‘em. Rick Ross, lord of illusions, I could go down the list. Your life ain’t real, my nigga. The Migos said they ain’t respected for the style that they invented and they ain’t respected for putting Versace out. Nigga, are y’all fuckin’ crazy, man? That’s Lord Infamous all the way! All y’all niggas are is repetitive. That ain’t no style. A lot of people did that style they just do it all the time! Don’t get me wrong, I fuck with the Migos and a lot of down south niggas. I respect them for coming in the game at their age and having grown men my age try to do their shit. I respect them in that lane, but I don’t like niggas that feel they should get more credit than what is due. It’s a lot of good emcees out here. You got good emcees, you got lords of illusions, and then you get motherfuckers that’s happy all the time with high voices, skipping around the stage, doing back flips, and on hover boards. This is rap music, my nigga. I talk to Top Dawg from TDE and I told him about that situation and he said, “Yo, fuck that shit. Just get your money, man.” That brother is busy but when he can he always throw me a couple of lines if I ask him. I respect that brother and what they doing over there. You have to have a lot of stamina and believe in yourself in this game.
TRHH: The term you used “lord of illusion” is not a new thing in Hip-Hop. Many people would say Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were not what they portrayed in 1988. Some people would even say that about Ice-T on some level…
Fong-Sai-U: But you know what, when you say that think about who you’re talking about and how long did they carry that shit on. Ice Cube came out like that for a little while and then he started acting and raising his family. Ice Cube was radical – pro black. Ice Cube didn’t keep on with the keep on. Ice Cube didn’t try to be N.W.A on every motherfuckin’ album. These niggas I’m talking about are dope dealers on every album. They got kilos, chopping bricks, and money out the ass on every album. You see the difference? Ice-T was really out there. He was really out there but he got smart and said, “I’m not out there no more so I can’t keep talking about this shit when I’m living in a mansion in the hills, living in New York, and on a TV show.” Same thing with Jay, he can’t keep talkin’ about Marcy when he knows he’s not in Marcy no more. This nigga Rick Ross still talking like he’s the real Rick Ross. How long can you do it, brother? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good emcee, but he’s burning his self out with all this shit that’s unbelievable. You gotta think about it, that’s Meek Mill’s CEO. That’s your skeleton, your battery pack, your dude, and you got this young boy out here flashing money thinking that makes him dope. Everybody you named never did that, dog. Dr. Dre got smart. If Dr. Dre would have kept trying to be N.W.A he probably wouldn’t be here right now. Back then we didn’t have security and protection like these niggas. Niggas be walkin’ with security, protection, and everything else. Even when Biggie, rest in peace, was out it was more easy to clip a nigga. Now everybody that’s talking that shit got mad security. Because you’re speaking that shit into existence.
TRHH: I’ve heard a million stories about cats like De La Soul and Common beatin’ niggas down. Regular dudes, but you’ll never hear about it in their music.
Fong-Sai-U: Nope. That’s the facts, dog. I promised myself with my music that the only thing I can do is say what’s real. Everything I talk about happened. My daughter ran away and I put that on a song. She ain’t came back yet, brother and I be worried every day, God. I say shit that’s real. My life is that broken up where I can say shit and it’ll sound dramatic, but it’s really happening. I’m talking to you right now and the police got a thing out looking for my daughter. I talk about those things and that’s my way to get it out. That’s my way to let people know that I’m dealing with real life. In the beginning of one the songs on the album I tell everybody I’m not going to fabricate shit, I’m going to let you in. I been locked up I don’t know how many times, but I don’t have to brag about it and put it in my music. I pulled the pump on a nigga, but I don’t have to put it in my music. I just wanna be an emcee, I wanna be lyrical. I’m not trying to play super hard man. Half the niggas that’s trying to play super hard man is pussy. Black Thought is my brother and my mentor, but he got caught with a gun a long time ago if you remember. It fell out the bag. But he don’t rap about that shit. It’s what’s in the water man. I understand you gotta sell records, but if you don’t live it, don’t do it, my brother. How long you think Slim Jesus got out here before another nigga try to take his motherfuckin’ head off?
Fong-Sai-U: [Laughs] And you over there so you know what I mean! How long you think that little white boy got before somebody bust his fuckin’ melon?
TRHH: Not long, unfortunately.
Fong-Sai-U: You know what I’m sayin’? He got a video where he talkin’ about, “If y’all come on Frank block, bla, bla, bla,” nigga, that’s not where they gonna fuck with you at! They not gonna fuck with you on your block. You still gotta tour and them choppers cut through motherfuckin’ vans and everything else. Five niggas surrounding you don’t mean shit. Rest in peace Cap and all them niggas in Chicago. That drill shit is real. Niggas dying for that shit, man. Salute to RondoNumbaNine. Niggas dying for that shit and you got your happy go lucky trailer park ass trying to do it. What? You got Lil’ Bibby and certain people co-signing, but they’re really not. Bibby just said he fuck with dude, he ain’t co-sign him. Niggas know that in Chicago if you co-sign that white boy you’ll probably have problems because now you’re going against your city. It’s a list of niggas that done died doing drill music and you got this motherfucker think he gonna do it? He just gonna come take it. You’re gonna be the Eminem drill dude, huh? I don’t wish bad on nobody, but I’m just waiting for somebody to stomp his motherfuckin’ ass out or we hear about him on the news or some shit. He invite that shit in. You can’t move like you wanna move ‘cause you put that shit in the world like you Josey Wales. You got guns in your video, niggas with guns, and you say you’ll do this and that but you look paranoid as hell. That nigga stuck looking paranoid. I ain’t never see a motherfucker look paranoid 24 hours a day. He got paranoid eyes. Slim Jesus paranoid. Even in the video he look paranoid.
TRHH: At some point in time the importance of being lyrical ceased and it shifted to persona – money, how many times you been in jail or shot, whatever the case may be. It didn’t matter how good your rhymes were, your persona became more important. When and why do you think that happened?
Fong-Sai-U: You know what, because niggas was trying to get money. Niggas was trying to fuckin’ get money. You had niggas that used to be lyrical and all of a sudden they wack as hell. You know why they wack as hell? Because they’re trying to do everything that these young boys are doing. I ain’t gonna say no names. I like to say names, but I still respect some people from afar. It’s some old niggas that used to be dope back in the day and now they’re wack as shit because they’re trying to do music that goes against what they know how to do. They’re trying to do the commercial songs to sell records. They’re trying to ride the fence, but if you don’t know how to do it, it will backfire and blow up in your face. Then you’ll be another artist on the wayside and you won’t be selling shit. Won’t nobody give a fuck about you. I got a list of niggas don’t nobody give a fuck about. You ever see somebody spread their selves across the board? They wanna do commercial songs, underground songs, south songs, and motherfucking country songs. They wanna do every goddamn song just to prove that they can do it. You can’t do that. You gotta ride your lane ‘till that motherfucker close. You gotta age with time, that’s how you get dope. Money is the reason why a lot of these niggas say, “Fuck being lyrical, I’m just gonna rap stupid.” Or they stay lyrical and do song with somebody that’s commercial to try to sell records. It fucked the game up, dog.
I got Phat Gary to open up my album, he’s Statik Selektah’s manager. He used to be Guru and Preemo’s manager — he’s my mentor. He tried to get this old school nigga, and he gonna know who I’m talkin’ about, but this motherfucker asked me for $10,000, man. And this nigga ain’t had no hit since goddamn 1993. You can’t give these old school niggas a bone and try and bring ‘em back ‘cause they want too much money. Then you got the rapping niggas that’s good that are trying to be like the commercial niggas. They try to be like the commercial niggas but in interviews they talk about keeping it real and changing with the times. No motherfucker, you sounding wack with the times! You gotta stand on your square. You know why Prince is still dope? Because Prince still stays Prince. His music might change a little bit, but all of his music connects. You know when you hear it it’s a Prince song. You don’t see Prince saying, “Fuck that, let me start rappin’!” Niggas wanna get money and because of that they reduce their skills. You putting yourself back because you wanna get money, but what happens is you don’t get no money, then you end up flopping and sounding all rusty. This game is fame. One day you’re up, the next day you’re down and nobody fucks with you. Back in the day you used to have some longevity, but now you’re so in and out that everybody loves you today and hate you tomorrow. The underground rappers wanna get money and end up spitting a whole bunch of wack shit. They just sound like fuckin’ garbage.
TRHH: What are people gonna hear when they buy the new album?
Fong-Sai-U: Fire, my G. It’s raw, dog. I ain’t gonna toot my own horn ‘cause I heard niggas go on VladTV tooting their horn and they’re wack. I’ll let the people hear it. I’m from D.C., man. People think D.C. is just Wale and Fat Trel, but D.C. had an underground scene once upon a time. D.C. had a whole bunch of lyrical ass niggas once upon a time. Some of ‘em don’t rap no more and some of ‘em do. I tried to spin back around and get some of ‘em, but they don’t have it no more or they’re wack as fuck. I’m trying to show that D.C., not Maryland, has ill ass emcees. You got Oddisee, the Diamond District, and Gods’Illa that are doing their thing but their lane is totally different. My lane is totally different. I was doing my thing for a minute there. Motherfuckers know who I am from the battle circuit. I do all my production, so I’m a one man gang. I want people to hear the album and know that D.C. has real spitters. A lot of cats have fan bases, but Oddisee and them are more happy, backpack Hip-Hop. Me, I’m more ride the fence. The left side is Hip-Hop, the right side is street, and I just merge them together. That’s my life. I wasn’t running around with no flowers and backpacks.
When ‘Riq was trying to push me to do things I was in the streets getting locked up. He pulled himself back, back in the day because I was hard headed. I was doing all the wrong shit. I probably could have been on a long time ago, but I was running the fuckin’ street. I can’t rap about, “Everybody put a fist in the air and let’s move!” [Laughs] I can’t do that shit. Break dancing and spinning is not my life. When I was in D.C. if I wasn’t on 58th I’d be on 13th with my god son and both of them places is shoot ‘em up, bang-bang. When I wanted to rap I would go to Howard University with a backpack and battle niggas on the campus. That’s where I found the best emcees at. That’s how I crafted my skills. When I walked off Howard’s campus it was back to the hood again. It’s niggas today that still wanna rap like De La Soul, that’s cool if that’s your lane. It’s a fan base for that, but it’s just not me. In D.C. you either all the way super Nubian Hip-Hop or you’re all the way gansgsta. There is no in between. It’s either right or left. My lane is showing people that D.C. has the full package and I can be that representer. The Last Ronin is gonna be that one, I promise you on that.
Purchase: Fong-Sai-U – The Last Ronin