Afu-Ra is an emcee from Brooklyn, NY. He was a student of martial arts and chess, and friends with Jeru The Damaja as a teenager. He first appeared on Jeru’s 1994 debut album, The Sun Rises In The East, and the sophomore album, Wrath Of The Math. Afu’s first single, “Whirlwind Thru Cities”, dropped in 1998 and appeared on The World Famous Beat Junkies Vol. 3 mixtape. His debut album, Body Of The Life Force, was released in 2000 and featured production from DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, DJ Muggs, and True Master. Guest emcee included GZA, Masta Killa, M.O.P., and Cocoa Brovaz, and more. In 2002, Afu released Life Force Radio with production from DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, Needlez, Domingo, and Ayatollah, and guest appearances from Guru, Big Daddy Kane, RZA, and Teena Marie. In 2004, Afu released a compilation album, Perverted Monks. In 2005, he released State Of The Arts.
The Last Emperor is an emcee from Philadelphia, PA. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science/International Relations from Lincoln University and moved to New York where he was performing at open mics. Two years later, Emperor was signed to Aftermath Entertainment, and was mentored by Dr. Dre. He then founded Red Planet Music in 2003 to release his debut album, Music, Magic, Myth. Emperor was featured on KRS-One’s song “C.I.A.” alongside Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine. He’s performed at the Lyricist Lounge, traveled the world touring, and has appeared as the guest emcee for the Gorillaz. He gained a lot of attention for the song “Secret Wars” where he reenacted Marvel Heroes versus skilled lyricists and recorded all the rapper impersonations himself. In addition, Emperor has collaborated with Diamond D, Prince Paul, DJ Muggs, Da Beatminerz, Siagon, Masta Ace, De La Soul, and RZA.
U-God of the famous Wu-Tang Clan, talks about his new album, The Keynote Speaker. Golden Arms explains how he approached the album, how he creates his content, and his appreciation of walking on the street without being mobbed. Production and features were handled by RZA. Purchase The Keynote Speaker here.
Hell Razah from the Wu-Tang affiliated group, Sunz Of Man, talks about his experience at Earth, Wind, & Fire’s recording studio in California. The popular song “Shining Star” was originally recorded by Hell Razah and Killah Priest with production by RZA. However, Razah describes how the opportunity with Wyclef and Ol Dirty Bastard arose, Wyclef’s reaction to ODB’s recording process, and finding out that Earth, Wind, & Fire were big fans of Big Baby Jesus.
U-God is an emcee from the legendary group, The Wu-Tang Clan. Originally from Brooklyn, he moved to Staten Island at a young age and became friends with Cappadonna, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, and Raekwon. When Wu-Tang formed and recorded their debut album in 1993, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, U-God only had a few short appearances due to issues with the law. He was heavily featured on the group’s second album, Wu-Tang Forever, along with the solo track, “Black Shampoo”. U-God’s debut solo album, Golden Arms Redemption, was released in 1999. He followed up with Mr. Xcitement in 2005 and Dopium in 2009. In 2013, U-God released his fourth album, The Keynote Speaker, with production by RZA and features from Method Man, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Kool Keith, Styles P, and Elzhi.
Andrew Kelley is a hip hop producer, Senior Art Director for eOne Music, and A&R for Soul Temple Music. He first owned turntables in 1996 to spin at parties, create mixtapes, battle other DJs, and run his own college radio show. After graduating college in 2000, he began working as a graphic designer for Rawkus Records. He later produced mixtapes with AZ, Raekwon, Re-Up Gang, and more, which led Andrew to become an A&R and the designer for Wu-Tang’s Chamber Music & Legendary Weapons projects. In 2011, RZA and Bob Perry co-founded Soul Temple Music and asked Andrew to continue his A&R work. The label quickly released the soundtrack to the film The Man With The Iron Fist, and later with Andrew’s help, Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge’s album, 12 Reasons To Die. Andrew has additionally created album artwork for Wu-Block, Fat Joe, Cam’ron & The Diplomats, The Alchemist, D-Block, DJ Khaled, DJ Drama, and more.
Rahzel is a musician and beatboxer from Queens, NY. He has mastered this art form of beatboxing after his inlfuences Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, and The Fat Boys. As a former member of the legendary hip hop band The Roots, Rahzel has won three Grammy awards and has been nominated seven times. He grew up watching his cousin Rahim of the Furious Five perform with Grandmaster Flash, and Rahzel later became a roadie for the Ultramagnetic MCs. In 1999, Rahzel released his debut album, Make The Music 2000, with features from Q-Tip, Slick Rick, Erykah Badu, Black Thought, and more. The album includes production from Pete Rock, Marley Marl, Scott Storch, and others. In 2004, Rahzel released his second album, Rahzel’s Greatest Knock Outs with features from KRS-One, RZA, DJ JS-1, DJ Hurricane, Everlast, Tonedeff, Cee-Lo, Funkmaster Flex, and more.
Pete Rock is a hip hop producer, emcee, and DJ from Mount Vernon, NY. He earned fame in the early 90s as a member of the hip hop group Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, and by producing one of the most popular hip hop songs of all-time, “They Reminisce Over You”. As the older brother of emcee Grap Luva and younger cousin of the late Heavy D, Pete played a major role in merging jazz into hip hop music. In high school, he met C.L. Smooth, and in 1987, Pete was DJing with Marley Marl on New York’s WBLS radio show “In Control With Marley Marl”. In 1991, Pete & C.L. released the EP All Souled Out. In 1992, the two released their full-length debut album, Mecca & The Soul Brother, which has become a certified classic album. Pete was soon producing songs for Run-DMC, Nas, Jeru The Damaja, Public Enemy, and The Notorious B.I.G. In 1994, Pete & C.L. released their second full-length album, The Main Ingredient. In 1998, Pete released his solo album Soul Survivor, with features from Inspectah Deck, Kurupt, Method Man, O.C., Ghostface Killah, Kool G Rap, Black Thought, MC Eiht, Big Punisher, Common, and more. In 2001, he released the instrumental album PeteStrumentals. Soul Survivor 2 was released in 2004, with features from Pharoahe Monch, RZA, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez, GZA, Slum Village, J. Dilla, and more. Pete entirely produced Edo G’s album in 2004, My Own Worst Enemy, and released another solo album in 2008, titled NY’s Finest. The album featured Raekwon, Masta Killa, Styles P, Sheek Louch, Redman, Papoose, and others. In 2012, Pete entirely produced Smif-N-Wessun’s album, Monumental.
Ras Kass is an emcee from Watts, CA. His 1994 single, “Remain Anonymous”, earned him a Hip Hop Quotable in The Source Magazine. With guest appearances on projects from Sway & King Tech, Chino XL, and KeyKool & Rhettmatic, Ras Kass became a name to look out for. His first album, Soul On Ice, was released in 1996. Taking the name from a book by Eldridge Cleaver, Ras addressed racial relations most notably with songs “Ordo Abchao” and “Nature Of The Threat”. The 1998 follow-up album, Rasassination featured production from Easy Mo Bee and features by RZA, Twista, Xzibit, Mack 10, and Dr. Dre. Ras Kass was also involved in The HRSMN, consisting of himself, Kurupt, Killah Priest, and Canibus. They released The Horsemen Project in 2003. Ras Kass has released several projects over the years, solidifying himself as one of the top lyricists in the history of hip hop music. He is featured in the 2011 film Rhyme & Punishment, which documented incarcerated rap artists.
From Brooklyn, NY, Whyz Ruler is a producer, writer, and artist. His production is featured on Wu-Tang member Masta Killa’s album, Made In Brooklyn. Whyz has also worked with Crown Vic, Bronze Nazareth, The Wisemen, Afu-Ra, DJ J-Love, PF Cuttin, Thirstin Howl The 3rd, Kevlaar 7, Action Bronson, and more. Check out Whyz’s production on the songs “Iron God Chamber” with Masta Killa, U-God, Method Man, & RZA, and “Iron Godsmen Vs. The Bronzemen” with Crown Vic, Kevlaar 7, Bronze Nazareth, Thirstin Howl The 3rd, Salute Kidm, & Nigel Prime.
From Kansas City, MO, Tech N9ne is currently the most successful independent artist in the world. Some of his early influences are Slick Rick, N.W.A., Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, Schoolly D, The Doors, Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, AC/DC, Metallica, Floetry, OutKast, and Gnarls Barkley. In 1991, he was a member of a group called Black Mafia, and saw glimpses of success in the group 57th Street Rogue Dog Villains with their single “Let’s Get Fucked Up”. In 1999, Tech was featured on the song “The Anthem” by Sway & King Tech, along with RZA, Eminem, Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Jayo Felony, Chino XL, KRS-One, and Kool G Rap. Later that year, Tech N9ne and Travis O’Guin founded the record label Strange Music. In 2001, Tech released the album Anghellic on JCOR Records. In 2002, he released Absolute Power, which debuted #79 on the Billboard 200. In 2006, Tech released the album Everready, foliowed by a collaboration album, Misery Loves Kompany. In 2007, Tech released Killer, which exceeded the one million mark of total album sales. In 2009, Tech won the Left Field Woodie Award at the MTVU Woodie Awards. He is also scheduled to be featured on Lil Wayne’s upcoming album Tha Carter IV.
In 1993, hip hop was forever changed by the emergence of the gritty, Shaolin style of the seminal rap clique The Wu-Tang Clan. From Staten Island, New York, a unique conglomerate of nine individually exceptional lyricists flourished. Members RZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, GZA, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard combined forces in to release their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. This album became a staple in the music industry as one of the greatest hip hop albums to date, with singles such as “Protect Ya Neck” and “C.R.E.A.M.”. Raekwon’s debut solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, released in 1995 and went gold in three days. With singles like “Ice Cream” and “Criminology”, this album received critical praise for its evocative, image-rich storytelling, and cinematic Mafia obsession. In 1997, Wu-Tang’s sophomore album, Wu-Tang Forever was certified four times platinum by the RIAA, quadruple the certification given Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. Raekwon’s sophomore solo album, Immobilarity, was released in 1999. He later released The Lex Diamond Story in 2003, followed by The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 1 in 2007, and The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 2. In 2009, the sequel to Raekwon’s solo debut album was released, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2, selling over 68,000 copies in the first week. In 2010, Raekwon released an album, Wu-Massacre, with Method Man and Ghostface Killah, and then his most recent album in 2011, Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang with features from Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, GZA, Havoc, Inspectah Deck, Lloyd Banks, Nas, and more.
Sav Killz is an emcee who grew up battling in cyphers around Flatbush, Brooklyn. He spend much of his time in the 36 Chambers Studio with The Wu-Tang Clan, Sunz Of Man, and Brooklyn Zu, which was run by Popa Wu. Sav toured in Europe with Shabazz The Disciple and DJ J-Ronin, as well as an east coast tour with Tash from The Alkaholiks. Sav is a member of Gold Chain Military which represents New York and Los Angeles, and Sav also has countless features on DJ J-Ronin’s All Elements mixtape series.