The world first heard Cappadonna on Raekwon the Chef’s 1995 single “Ice Cream” off of the classic album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” Cappa reappeared on a handful of songs on Ghostface Killah’s debut solo album Ironman, as well as the Wu-Tang Clan’s sophomore album, Wu-Tang Forever, before releasing his debut solo effort, 1998’s “The Pillage.”
The man born Darryl Hill might be the hardest working member of the Wu-Tang Clan with over a dozen solo albums under his belt. His unique cadence and unconventional vocabulary set him apart from everyone in the business of rap.
At the end of 2011 I got the opportunity to talk to Cappadonna as the tenth member of Staten Island’s rhyming superheroes was promoting the release of his album “The Pilgrimage” and his Black Cloud tour.
Cappadonna was exactly the way you’d expect him to be. He was humorous, kind, and incredibly eccentric.
TRHH: Why’d you name the album The Pilgrimage?
Cappadonna: I named the album The Pilgrimage because “pilgrimage” mean journey – the journey that I’ve been taking all of my life in Hip-Hop and in life period. Even journeys within journeys. In order to get something you never had you gotta do something you never did. Within that journey even the people that we meet that accompany us and get us to that next level, it might be a publicist, it might be a manager, or it might be a producer. It’s not a whole project that I created myself. It’s about the all in all. Everything and all of my experiences that I been through in my life to get me to where I’m trying to get to right now. That’s what The Pilgrimage is about.
It’s just like the yellow brick road, big boy! With Toto and Dorothy and all of them. They was on that yellow brick road searching and going and finding out that they always searching for something, lord. At the end of the day even when they got to the Wizard they find out that he ain’t even who he say he was. But check it out, behind that curtain at the end of the day they helped him get home. They almost got home, too. They had to fight a couple of witches though. A couple of flying monkeys and all of that. But in the end, they got tighter with each other and they accomplished what they was trying to accomplish. What they found out in the midst of being secretive their whole life is what they were searching for, wow, they already had inside of them all along.
TRHH: On this album you seem to have more spiritual lyrics than your past rhymes. Why’d you decide to take that route for The Pilgrimage?
Cappadonna: Everything is based upon spirit. Even the word. That’s why they say the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. In the beginning was the word, but then all of these things are in the word. That’s what give you the feeling and that’s the spark of energy and the word that keeps everybody together. Music is a universal language. They don’t even call it a sound, they consider it a language. This is how I speak to the masses. Even the beat get ‘em sometimes but they can just tell by the flow of the words if it’s aggressive, if its kindness, or if it’s a statement being made. They can almost feel within their spirit the message and the way that it touch their soul. That’s why they say music soothes the soul or calms the soul of the savage beast within you. You just gotta find out what that is and what kind of frequency you on that’s going to allow you to be able to obtain that kind of ability to achieve that greater success, which is happiness.
TRHH: How’d you come up with the story for Cuban Link Kings?
Cappadonna: Cuban Link Kings was based upon a true story. The Cuban Link chain represents the strength and the unity of the brothers. It’s supposed to be the strongest link – the unbreakable chain. That’s the ideology or the foundation of the chain. The gold or platinum, or whatever the sexiest or most expensive elements was always the better choice or look. At the same time, that link is the link that I’m using to get a hold of everybody, especially the young knuckleheads out there. We kings. We been doing this so long and we been tight for so long in the eyes of the public, and not only that, we been friends since kindergarten and stuff like that. That right there gives everybody a clear picture and a view of why we kings at being Cuban Links.
That’s the same energy that brought us together with Queens. I talk about Nas in there, I talk about Mobb Deep, and we just went on a tour with them this summer, me, Ghostface, Trife Diesel, Big Noyd, and Mobb Deep – we did it. We went out there for a month tearing ‘em down. Before that we was out there with the next kids, Sheek Louch and them. We did something called Wu-Block. See how the links keep connecting with each, brother? We the kings of this. Showing unity, that’s why we those teachers and front-line generals that’s chosen, tested, tried, and denied over and over again that we shall overcome and keep giving y’all these virtuals so that y’all can go ahead and get through these funky obstacles in life. You dig?
TRHH: I dig. You mentioned Wu-Block, when can fans expect to hear that album?
Cappadonna: For more information on that you can probably go online. Go to WuWorld.com, Ghostface Killah, or WuCorp, something like that. We got like half of the project done and then it was a halt. I haven’t really gotten more information on that, but it’s something that was definitely being worked on. We was definitely together, setting it off, and getting ready for this 2012 onslaught.
TRHH: I want to go back a little bit. Meth and Deck both said that you taught them how to rhyme. Explain exactly how you taught them to spit.
Cappadonna: Like I said, my single is A-Alike, B-Alike, C-Alike and I made that in reference to how we associate ourselves with one another. We A-Alike because we moving on that same path. We B-Alike because have that ability to build with each other. We C-Alike because we agree on the majority of things in life. So, by agreeing they might feel like I taught them but we been teaching each other all along, because by them giving me the ability and strength to be able to produce these sermons to them and give them some knowledge of what I know that they might not have had before, they giving me a chance to discover something even greater than me just giving them pointers on how to hold the mic, how to build up your esteem, or how to approach the crowd.
Some of these things that even as I teach, as you get older you even lose value and relevancy in the world. The blessing is being able to pass that on and being able to have the next man behind ou saying, “Yo, he taught me this or that.” I don’t take any credit for that. That’s almighty God. He gave me the ability, power, grace, and mercy to be able to pass what he passed on to me to the next man. Those is merits and treasures unmeasurable. That’s the money you can stack up that you can’t spend. Save a life, it’s better than saving a dollar.
TRHH: You have some memorable verses like Winter Warz and ’97 Mentality. What was your mind state when you spit those two rhymes in particular?
Cappadonna: It was the mentality itself. Winter Warz represented a cold winter. You know what they say, they say “work when the weather is good, so when it’s cold you can do what you could.” You dig? That Winter Warz is the season of the vic. A lot of people was trying to get what they needed to get at that time. It was back to school. Back in the day when the winter time came and you was a kid and got your little summer time money you wanted to look fresh for the new year but the wolves come out. The wolves be waiting for you at the stores with your lil’ check going to get your new clothes and they take that right there. That’s what the Winter Warz was about. Everybody trying to get up out of that cold. It was a good period of time because I was just getting out of the cold myself.
I was just coming out of jail at that time, which was a cold ass world. My mind was fresh, it was free, and I was flowing. That was one of the best 80 bars that I ever threw at any kind of track and the world felt it. They felt it in me and they was able to feel that in they self. That’s what made it a success. It wasn’t even just me. It was the many people that got touched by it that made it an official winter war. The same thing with ’97 Mentality, that was like the best years of our lives. We was just coming into success. We was just coming into creating entities and corporations out of our homegrown, made from scratch style of rhyming, way of living, and culture in reality and just brought it all into one thing. We put God in the midst of all of it and he approved of it and got behind us and pushed with us. There you have it, yo. Another child is born.
TRHH: You’re going on tour this month on the Black Cloud tour. Black clouds have a negative connotation. Why is the tour called the Black Cloud tour?
Cappadonna: I thought about that, too. I thought about the black cloud and its negative notation in reference to the black cloud. The black cloud is only there so we can understand the value of the morning to come – the new day. The new light! Everything that was great came out of the dark. The dark existed first. Out of that darkness spun numerous amounts of clusters of light. Not for nothing, I’m a Virgo and the first cluster is called the Virgo cluster. How about that? It formed many galaxies and clusters of light. Everything that existed in the world today came out of the dark. Deep in the depths of the mind where even the simplest thing as a top, a can opener, a jar, a speaker, a car, a wheel, a tire, a can, a thumb tack, the littlest thing.
The mind created the computer. But the computer is controlling the mind now. That’s how fragile the mind can be. When you download something and you think you really getting information from the computer, the computer is an outlet that attaches everyone’s mind together. That’s what creates the one world order. Now you can download any question or anything and you not just getting an answer now from your man. Now you don’t have to go nowhere. You don’t even have to read a book now. The answer is right there and you just press Go. That thing will go out into the U-N-I-verse. It might his somebody on Mars. You don’t know if an alien answered your question.
TRHH: What do you have in-store for the fans on the tour?
Cappadonna: Witty unpredictable talent and natural game, man. That’s what we been giving them all along. I’m gonna keep it strong. Put God first, that’s the only way to survive. And if you my A-Alike, B-Alike, C-Alike, then we gonna get through the fight, yo. Hold your head up high, stay low, and keep firing. And if you like to know more about the kid, check me out on Paltalk. We one of the largest online chat communities. You feel me?
TRHH: I feel you.
Cappadonna: And Aurora Innovations, too, if you wanna eat right with the kid. Check out them organic plants for the nutrients and get everything else you need to get and yo, I’ll always be on your side. We gon’ eat right, we gon’ sleep right, we gon’ rise to the top, and we gon’ do what we supposed to do. Hip-Hop forever. It’s nice to be important, but guess what, it’s even more important to be nice. Holla at your scholar, I’ll get at you soon. Poof!
Purchase: Cappadonna – The Pilgrimage