The Wu Tang Clan is to Hip Hop what Donald Trump is to American Politics. In a sense their quasi-political outlook on life serves as a lyrical essay on living and growing up in one of the toughest cities in the world – New York. “Yes sir, Brooklyn New York my home town” he quips

Funny enough Masta Killa aka Jamel Irief is upbeat as we converse about their tour of New Zealand.

“It’s beautiful the weather but its freezing my side on my side of town. New York weather man you know?”

Masta KilIa is convinced he’s been here before “This our first time? I don’t know if it’s our first time is it? Seems like I’ve been here before”

The Wu Tang Clan are one of the most influential Rap Hip Hop groups to come out of America. Their music spans the annals of popular music, since 1992 The Wu-Tang Clan have released seven gold and platinum studio albums with worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums, including members’ solo projects. Touring is part of the drive for the Clan, a chance to connect with fans around the world

“Anytime you do a show for fans anywhere in the world I mean it’s a blessing” He enthuses. “Twenty odd years later and fans are still coming out to support you like its day one man, it’s a great feeling and very humbling as well. It just keeps giving you the drive to keep going, keep doing what you do to make beautiful classic Hip Hop music. That’s what we want to do show our gratitude and give you a great performance”

Their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang, is considered to be one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history and it is said to have been ground breaking for hip-hop and one of the most important albums of the hip-hop golden age, the band has never shied away from controversy being under the watchful gaze of the media eye. Even after all this time

“It’s amazing to me because you can’t take anything for granted every day is a blessing” He says. “Every breath that you take. You know, we do so many things that we take for granted. Sight, hearing faith, taste, touch, smell you just take these things for granted, not everyone is as blessed. So to be relevant twenty something years later and your fans still come out to support you is very humbling to me and it’s amazing, it’s like no other feeling in the world its great”

The band has just recently played this year’s Raggamuffin Festival in Auckland which has been a massive coup to have the group in New Zealand, the band is also working on material which hopefully won’t take long to see the light of day

“I mean were always recording something together” says Masta Killa. “Whether the world hears it or not who knows? We’re always doing something we always working – we’ll give each other a call ‘Hey come in I got something I’m working on’. We still do that for one another because the love is still there, it will always be there as a group – we love music so were always going to do that, we probably have songs that the world might not ever hear, who knows, but as far as recording and making music that’s something we’ll always do fulfilled”

Of course one cannot mention Wu Tang without bringing up rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard (or ODB). His name synonymous with the Clan but his professional success often hampered by frequent legal spates, including jail time. Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Russell Jones) was often noted for his trademark microphone techniques and his “outrageously profane, free-associative rhymes delivered in a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung style” He died on November 13, 2004, of a drug overdose, two days before his birthday, but no doubt his death has left a hole within the group that is felt even today

“Always, always brother” He muses. “That’s a void that will never be fulfilled you know what I’m saying? There will never be a show that Wu Tang Clan performs that Wu will not perform a selection of his music, but its nothing like seeing him onstage, you know what I’m saying? That element of our group there’s no words to describe, he will always be missed greatly, greatly”

Masta Killa reflects briefly before picking up on another memory flashback

“There was never a dull or boring moment when ODB was around” He laughs. “I’ve seen him do amazing things, come out and lay down on the stage and take a nap in the middle of everybody else’s performance, then when his song comes on he wakes up and just starts going crazy, and the crowd loses it. I never saw anybody do that before. There was never a dull moment with my brother man, even with his words of wisdom. Him even telling me “Killa, be free with your art, you’re too stiff let it go”

The Rap landscape is not like the days of old. Those golden days in the nineties when Rap music was “Straight Outta Compton” when Hip-Hop was defining itself straight after the 70s/80s funk explosion thanks to groups like Sugar Hill Gang & Grandmaster Flash spawning in its wake Carl Jones’s iconic Cross Colours clothing label and Gangsta Rap the “commercially lucrative subgenre of Hip Hop” – it’s a far cry from today’s crop of rap artists, with Drake, Jay Cole and Kendrick Lamar right at the fray of the new movement of artists dominating the global movement

“Those three artists that you named right there” He pauses. “I love those three artists right there. I think those three right there are unique artists I think most artists are actually afraid to be unique most artists will come out and sound like what’s actually on the radio they’re unique in their creativeness in what they bring to the musical universe – they don’t sound like anyone else to me they sound like themselves, I enjoy it”

Masta Killa is not as politically bent as one may think. His outlook sentimental, he’s a realist, the opportunity to travel with his ‘brothers in arms’ is a chance to tour and meet fans. However there is a disadvantage touring the world, one of which is not having enough time to survey the lay of the land and mingling with locals

“That’s the downside of travelling so many places” He says. “You rarely get to enjoy or absorb what it is there that makes that particular place special. It’s very rare that you’d get out to see landmarks or monuments because of the time you’re actually there to do what you have to do. It’s not like you’re there actually on a vacation, you’re there to do interviews you know, job function mod. So actually, to know the special things about New Zealand, I’d like to learn more, I’d like to see more, I’d like to be able to absorb more to further on a question like that”

He pauses, regurgitates what was just said before adding:

“Anyone who wants to get at want to give me for a game of chess or something I’m all for it or even show me around town I’m all for it”