Words: Miljan Milekić
In this interview, everything is about the bigger picture. We sat down with iNTeLL, an amazing up-and-coming rapper with the potential to be the voice of a generation. Along with his own work, he is one half of a duo GFTD, along with another amazing young MC, PXWER. However, the story only unfolds from there. Sons of U-God (iNTeLL) and Method Man (PXWER), joined their forces with sons of other Wu-Tang members to begin 2nd Generation Wu, a collective that expands the legacy on the foundation their fathers set. Bigger picture, remember? Check the interview below.
I would like to start with both, GFTD, and 2nd Generation Wu, and the difference between them. To me, it seems like GFTD is practically a core, a group, while 2nd Generation Wu is more of a collective, a movement, or an idea. Am I on the right track?
iNTeLL: Yes, you hit the nail on the head. So the 2nd Generation Wu is me, iNTeLL, the son U-God, PXWER, the son of Method Man, Sun God, the son of Ghostface Killah, and Young Dirty Bastard, the son of Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Sun God and Young Dirty Bastard have decided not to continue the movement. They have decided they don’t want to be a part of the 2nd Generation Wu with me and Meth‘s son. They want to do their own thing. It’s almost like they came together to do that song, and when we started the album, they backed out. But we’re all still the 2nd Generation Wu. It’s bigger than a musical group. It’s bigger than a song. Even if we were all lawyers, even if we were all doctors, we’re still the second generation of Wu-Tang. It’s in our DNA.
So it’s me and PXWER moving forward, just the two of us. We figured we would just start our own thing, instead of continuing the 2nd Generation Wu vein without the other two guys. And when they decide to come back into the fold, we’re going to continue on with the 2nd Generation Wu movement. We still have a lot of music that we recorded with them, we were in the process of making an album, but when they backed out, we couldn’t finish it. Eventually, that music will get released, towards the end of the year, either as singles or as an EP, or if they come together, a full-fledged album.
I’m also talking to Masta Killa‘s sons and GZA‘s sons, and they seem a hell of a lot more interested in being a part of the 2nd Generation Wu than Sun God and Young Dirty Bastards. So, if that’s the case, then you know, we’ll see a whole different style, and a whole different sound for the album shape up. It’ll be exciting. But right now, it’s me and PXWER at the front and center and we are putting in the most work. We’re in the studio every day. We’re on all the verses, all the songs and we’ve been putting in a lot of work. We’re continuing forward we’ve got another single produced by 88-Keys, it’s called ‘Soothe the Soul.’ 88-Keys, for those that don’t know, has worked with Kanye West for years. He’s one of his good friends. He definitely gave us a banger, and I’m excited for everybody to hear that. It’s the first GFTD single.
After the release of ‘7.O.D.,’ there were talks about album dropping early this year, and a tour. With a global pandemic in the way, I guess most of it went out of the window. When can we expect some of it to happen
iNTeLL: I wouldn’t say everything’s thrown out the window, I look at it more like everything’s on pause. If the pandemic didn’t happen, we probably would have released the album either in April or May. We did the distribution deal with Tommy Boy, and they’re also investing in trying to get us tour placement, but before they could even do that, we had our own setup. We were about to go to Barcelona and do some shows, and then hopefully, that would branch out into other shows. The hardest part is getting out there, but if people want to book you and you’re already out there, it’s a lot easier. So, we were only supposed to go out there for a few days, but we might’ve stayed for like three weeks. We also had negotiations with venues in Amsterdam, London, and Paris, but then the travel ban hit, and flights froze.
It was just like – “Oh my goodness! This is the worst possible time for us to be trying to build music brands. And not just one, but two – the 2nd Generation Wu and GFTD. Like, I’m slowly losing my mind.” But how it altered our plans – we pushed the album back. No specific date, but I’m thinking, as soon as the world is back to where they’re letting people gather in venues, letting shows go on and people fly, we’ll probably release one more single so we can negotiate and set up the tour. Then, we’ll drop the album and go on tour. We didn’t want him to drop an album, and then people consume it and spit it out, and we can’t go on and continue to promote it.
At this stage, it’s almost impossible to talk about either GFTD or 2nd Generation Wu, without talking about Wu-Tang, and you’re not running away from it. What was the main motivation for going into something like this, and to – not continue, because Wu-Tang isn’t going anywhere, but to expand the legacy of your fathers
iNTeLL: That’s exactly how I look at it, more like an expansion, because we can’t walk in their shoes, we can’t do what they do, and we don’t sound like them. Maybe PXWER has the same vocal tone as his father sometimes, but his rap style is different, and the things that he’s rapping about are completely different. The age gap, the time gap, what our norms are, versus what their norms are. Like, these guys came up before the internet, you know what I mean? There’s no way we could tap into exactly that vein. But it’s in our DNA. It’s woven, and the influence is there. It’s the foundation. So, of course, as we expand, you’ll always hear where we came from. But it’s definitely an expansion because we are having different experiences than they had. It’s like, what is this new experience like, through the Wu-Tang lens, or through the Wu lens. And that can only be given from the children, the next generation. They’ve always been screaming Wu-Tang is for the children, so now people are actually getting to see that in reality.
By doing what you do, and being who you are, do you ever feel like you’re under the spotlight, and held to a higher standard than you might have been if that was not the case. How do you cope with it?
iNTeLL: I definitely feel like we are held to a higher standard because of our lineage. If you’re a lifelong fan of the Wu-Tang Clan, and you hear their sons are rappers, you’re going to be like – “Well, they better be fucking dope!” You know what I’m saying? Also, there’s a stigma in hip hop in general, ’cause there’ve been other sons of other rappers that have come out and it’s been terrible. And it made things harder for the second generation anything, trying to get through the door. But then, there is Chris Rivers who will break through and show the world like – “Yo, my father is a legend and he was dope, but I’m here now, and I’m fucking ridiculously dope as well, so look at me.” But I feel like we’ll be more along the lines of showing people that second generation of any of rappers and hip hop families can be ill, expand the legacy, create dope content, deliver dope messages, and not be on just trying to get the spotlight BS.
It seems like from the beginning you had the support from your fathers, but you are building your own path. How much does it mean to you to have them on your side?
iNTeLL: Well, it feels really good now. I’ve been rapping a little over 15 years, and it wasn’t always there. And once I got to a certain point of skill, my father was like – “Wow, you still doing it?” He’s always told me I’m talented, but he wanted me to focus more on my films. But now, he’s like – “Yo, whatever you do, just make it dope.” So to have their support, it’s a great inspiration, and it just fuels me to keep going.
What I like about your music is the way you bring back the old school, conscious, and underground hip hop, and combine it with a modern approach. How much of a challenge was it to take best from both worlds, and build your own thing from scratch?
iNTeLL: It was very challenging because it was like trying to figure out the cure for something. And sometimes, that takes years of just research, dedication, putting in the hours, and a lot of failed experiments. I got tired of hearing the older generation complain about the younger generation, and the younger generation complain about the older. And even though I’m considered part of the younger generation, sometimes I feel nostalgic, like the older generation. So I just had the best of both world’s feelings within me. I also love some music from the new generation – the autotune guys, trap rappers, and mumble rappers. I love certain songs within those genres. And of course, I love the classic ’90’s boom bap. So if I can bridge those two worlds, or just bridge the way of thinking of the older generation, and the way of thinking of a younger, wouldn’t that be something? And I just kept trying to do that, and I feel like I’m getting close.
So, I come more from a punk rock world than hip hop, but I always believed that those two cultures are connected. They may sound different, but the idea and the foundation are similar, if not the same. And one thing they have in common is the lyrics. They are meaningful and have a message. In your music, you pay a lot of attention to lyrics. How important is that aspect to you?
iNTeLL: I think the lyrics are very important. I wouldn’t say more important than the music, because you could have a hit record where the lyrics are like – “What is he talking about?”, but it’s a hit because the music is so good. But the lyrics are very important to me in terms of longevity. If I’m gonna go back and listen to a record that’s 10 years old, 20 years old, 30 years old, it’s because when I hear that record, not only does the music resonate with my soul, but that person captured a moment or a feeling, and I can relate to that every time I hear it. And I always try to do that with my lyrics as well as express how I’m feeling about the world.
People were like – “Oh, are you a political rapper?” Not really, but if you listen to my music, you’ll know how I feel about politics, and so on, and so forth. So, I think the lyrics are very, very important, and hopefully, as hip hop progresses, more people will realize that. Even some of the newer rappers, even though we may not be able to understand them because of their accents or the amount of automation they use, some of them have amazing lyrics. Some of them are amazing songwriters, and they don’t get the credit they deserve because they’re lumped in with the rest of their peers that are just making nonsense. Some of them actually have good writing. To me, writing is very important. I consider myself a lyricist, and that’s what I seek out when I’m looking for new artists to work with, and when I’m looking for new music I listen to. It’s like – “What’s gonna stimulate my mind?” I’m not really a dancer, I don’t really go to clubs and parties. I’m not always looking to move my body, per se, but I’m always looking to move my mind.
The big part of our website is dedicated to skateboarding and extreme sports in general, and I can easily hear your music banging from the speakers on sessions or in video parts. Do you guys ride?
iNTeLL: Wow, that would be cool. Um, I, unfortunately, don’t. I do like to watch, I do like to spectate, but in 2009, shortly after I graduated high school, I broke my leg in three places playing football. And I wasn’t on a team or anything. I wasn’t playing for my school. I was just playing with friends. My mother wouldn’t let me play for school because I have asthma. I still wanted to play anyway, ’cause I was a heavyset kid in high school, and it made me feel tough. And whatever reason that day, I was a little bit too tough and made the wrong move. I got hit hard and my leg broke. After that, the doctor told me that sports are no longer in my ability.
But even before that, I’ve been through a lot of trauma in my life. I had an accident when I was a kid, and then another accident when I was twelve. I wasn’t really ever able to do skateboarding or bike riding or rollerblading. I got partial paralysis in my left leg, and joint pain, and stuff like that. So, unfortunately, sports aren’t for me, but I do enjoy spectating, and I do enjoy the events. I have friends who skate, from the ones that just fall the time, to the ones that will really give you a show. And, I have a friend who lives in Montreal who used to be a professional BMXer, he showed me some of his old videos, so I know how cool and awesome it gets.
Thank you! And I hope we’ll see you soon in Europe.
iNTeLL: Yes, sir! I’ve been to Switzerland, Germany, and Italy for music. Hopefully, I can come back and visit more countries and bring this good hip hop.