You’d need to be living under a mossy bolder covered in snakes if you can’t remember the augmented group Wu-Tang Clan. When they hit the scene in the late 80’s and 90’s, we were still pillaring through the styles and phases of wheat timberland boots, and plush bomber jackets, even in the surge of summer. Wu-Tang made that shyyy look cool to wear off-season. Their lyricism and hip hop brought out a different type of crunk where stories of struggle, survival and just making it in the hood, were relatable tunes that real hip hop lovers listened to regardless of their area code. Wu-Tang spread their mark across the US, and they created chambers of rappers that joined the fold who were blood raw, just like them.
One group in particular, Wu-Syndicate, consisting Joe Mafia, Napoleon, and Myalansky, a hybrid of the Wu-Tang Clan —They strode into the music industry from Richmond, Virginia, and debuted on Wu-Tang Killer Bees: The Swarm (1998). As a bonus to their introduction, they released Wu-Syndicate in 1999. The group continued to deposit hip hop with their latest release Illustrious featuring track, Naked Gun. The track is an epic donation to hip hop culture. Fans of the Wu-Tang era should be proud, in a way that Mr. Miyagi was elated that his star pupil, Danielson [The Karate Kid], won the Karate Championship.
Naked Gun is a buzzing score, that’s highly underrated in this period of music though it blends both old-school lyricism and prevailing beats from this generation.
“Naked Gun is really a salute to my brothers from Brooklyn who died," Myalansky remarked. “When you came into this world, you came with nothing and when you leave this world, you’re going to leave with nothing; so, you make it when you come and you make it when you go,” he continued to explain their reasons for making the track.
As for joining forces with Wu-Tang, Joe Mafia said that he knew they were on the right path when they got a co-sign from one of the most influential voices of hip hop.
“For them to inspire us and back us, that means a lot to me,” he says. “In my head, as long as we are moving with that unit and that family, while putting out these hits and good ole music to our hardcore fan-base—We ain’t with the new crew. Wu-Tang is our home and it’s our fan-base. Anything outside of Wu-Tang, it don’t mean nothing to us.”
Myalansky and Joe Mafia just finished the 25 Anniversary Wu-Tang tour, and it was nothing short of a lituation. They are working on new material that’s reminiscent to past and present Wu-Tang songs, ear thumping mixes for sure, paying tribute to the legends. “We just finished the Illustrious album,” says Myalansky.
A smidgen of history:
Myalansky’s mother was a poet, and that was his inspiration for hip hop, while Joe Mafia clarified that his mom introduced him to the culture when Sugar Hill Game, and Grand Master Flash did the dang’on thang back in the day. That’s where there hunger for rap developed.
“At the time we came out, we were there when music was big in New York. You had your Mob Deep, Nas, AZ, Cool G Rap and Biggie,” says Myalansky. “When we came out, although we were rapping, VA [Richmond, Virginia] didn’t really have a voice. New York had already solidified a voice in the streets. We were able to give the same energy. We had to speak of for VA just like the cats was speaking for Atlanta, the voices speaking for Miami, the voices speaking for California.”
Coming from a period when the street stories and hip hop lyrics were real, Myalansky remembers vividly. “Some of the raw things we seen was the hustling. I’m not trying to entertain it or glorify it but, the murders—The guys who fell victim to the penitentiary, the fly gear, the club scene, and just to be honest, the street. That’s what it was. That’s it. We had a message about the things going on around us. We would talk about it. It’s not like we are rapping. We are reenacting and that’s a difference."
Joe said, “It was genuine for the people that was out there. If you came across global spits and originality, that was the only way that you could get accepted. Hip hop is so saturated right now.”
Just as Joe mentioned, Rappers had to prove that they were real MC’s. They could freestyle-battle and win with a story and not just metaphors that sound alright.
“When you are able to create, your creativity starts with everything,” added Myalansky. “The way you dress, the way your house looks. All that is from your mind, and the thoughts in your head. If my house is neat, that means my gear is going to be right, that means my car is going to be clean; that means during the day, my steps will be in order. Everything is about order and that’s what makes us so lyrically nice. Everything that you do from our era was almost like being who you are before rap. This is just how you move and how you think, and everything around you is in that same order.”
Lyrically nice is an understatement, these guys are like the Professor Xavier’s of Hip Hop, the X-MEN. Time nor era can stop their creative flow.
In bridging the gap to success, Myalansky said that he’d like to see more opportunities in the hip hop communities, that’s offering support to the up-and-coming rappers. “You got Timberland, Pharrell, and you have a lot of people in positions of power that can push the button and help other artist. A lot of time, dudes don’t reach back. We need to see a lot more of that, dudes that come from a certain place, give opportunity to the next person so they can achieve the same thing."
When talking about the next generation of rappers and just doing more, it brought about the question surrounding Nipsey Hussle, and their thoughts regarding his untimely death. [Yeah, we’re still talking about it].
“That was unfortunate,” chimed Myalansky who seemed to be unabashed. “The same hood he tried to help is the same hood that tried to hurt him and that’s a message now. The same thing happened, here, with a guy. Sometimes, when you make it, you can’t try to save everybody. Sometimes, you gotta move. You gotta go away and you gotta keep it pushing. You can still reach back for them, but it can’t come directly from your hand. You can’t make yourself that much accessible anymore. Sometimes, keeping it real can go wrong. You gotta keep it real with you fist-- Keep it real with yourself and not always make yourself tangible to people that’s envious of you. That touched me a lot and it put me on high alert of the type of people approaching me at times because I don’t know what their intentions are. My guard is up like crazy, now. It’s unfortunate that he was that comfortable. That was a lesson for everybody that’s in a powerful position. When you are in a position of power, you can’t deal with the ordinary people anymore.”
“The only thing that gets me about the Nipsey situation,” says Joe, “is that he was too tangible, and that’s why that happened to him. He was a good person, but it’s bad that people didn’t feel that until after he died.”
Myalansky encourages this generation to pipe down from doing dumb stuff, and get educated about the freedom of Blacks in America, the oppression, and the rise of Black men when they were a unity.
Both artist said they want to be known as respectable men… “Rest in peace to my moms, I know she’s looking down,” Mylansky spoke somberly. “I want her to know through this interview, ‘You created somebody that was smart and [he] made sure he was alright in life.”
“I say the same thing that bruh was saying,” Joe replied. “We set a precedent. We are legacies, one of the most infamous and legendary people from the ground. We aren’t doing this for nothing. We got recognized by a worldwide entity to be put on a platform and [we are] supported by those brothers. When it’s all said and done for me, I want this to pass down to our children, from my seed to his seed, with Wu-Tang up in the family, generations and legacies."
ILLUSTRIOUS full album