Tuesday, 29 June 2010
LSD Magazine Interviews Cilvaringz (Wu Tang Clan) Issue 4
Scion of the legendary Wu Tang Clan, Cilvaringz overcame astonishing odds to take his place in one of the most influential hip hop collectives in history. Hitting the heady heights of international stardom with a magnetic cocktail of sublime lyrical flow, heaving beats, and a conscious, politically engaged lyrical canvas, Ringz is now a universally respected artist, manager and producer. Conquering his dream, he rolled the geopolitical and cultural maelstrom of the post 9/11 world radically across the beat, the street and the international heat, opening up debate and a fiercely dynamic dialogue with power, policy and identity. He took a moment out from strategising his upcoming tour to tell us his story and have a remarkably free exchange of ideas with LSD
How the hell did a Moroccan guy from a small town in Holland end up part of the Wu Tang Clan?
I was playing a lot of basketball in my teens for the South Dutch team, and with the initial passion for the game and the culture within it, the hip hop just fell into place. We had begun listening to hip hop on and off the court and one day, a friend of mine comes up to me with a tape that he had done, I took one listen, and thought to myself…’let me see if I can do that myself!’ I pulled in one of my teammates from the basketball courts to see if we could lay down a rap, and we had so much fun doing it that it became almost addictive as we kept nailing one and trying another and over time it started sounding better and better. At that point you start dreaming about going pro and looking at your idols like Snoop, Dr Dre and the Wu Tang in a different light, wondering if it might actually be possible to finish up on stage with them one day. My journey into hip hop started around the same time that the Wu Tang Clan put their first album out, and I became a super big fan, going to all their gigs and snapping up all their records until one day I heard that group was expanding to take on new members and I was basically crazy enough to believe that that might just be me. In 1997 when they were Grammy nominated and at their peak, they announced a May show in Amsterdam and while I bought my tickets the second they went on sale, I went off to New York in February. Standing in Times Square with all these huge ‘W’ ‘s everywhere, the sheer enormity of the Clan hit me and I’ve got to say, definitely discouraged me.
No matter where I went – billboards, Virgin Megastore displays completely decked out in the colours, 20 foot banners – the Wu was EVERYWHERE and I was awestruck intothinking ‘Fuck…there’s just no way I can crack this’ The dream took a bit of a battering at that point and in the time leading up to the May gig, my visions of a future with the Wu certainly calmed right down. But May came and they hit town riding the phenomenal success of their second record. We were right up front for the whole 3 hour show when they suddenly launched a freestyle session for local talent to jump up. Now I was a bit shy, but my cousin who was with me literally pushed me toward the stage making it look like I was pushing my way through, and before I knew it, Method Man and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were pulling me up and putting the mic in my hands. A total blur descended on me and I just started rapping. There was no getting into it, no letting it sink in….I just launched straight into my rap with Method Man and Ol’ Dirty Bastard flanking me. RZA, the leader of the Wu Tang was standing over by the DJ table, not really participating, but as I started to settle into my panicked flow, I noticed that they were all getting into it. Ol’ Dirty had this big smile plastered across his face and was looking back at RZA as if to say ‘This is pretty cool’. What RZA told me years later was that it wasn’t that they were blown away by my raw talent, but that I looked like such a nerd with my glasses and retro haircut rapping away on stage in all my hip hop clothes! For him, the impressive aspect was less my rapping, but this kind of Clark Kent persona I had going on– this nerd that suddenly turns into Superman when he gets on stage.