Judah Priest, curator of prolific rap uses street knowledge engulfed with biblical verses to talk about his traumas and successes while deploying his skills as a hip-hop artist to paint the picture for his fans. His latest single, What You Want, emerging from his album Rise of An Empire is a banger that's an evocative classic similar to the origin of his Wu-Tang Clan predecessors, but with progressive facts and metaphors.
“I always said that I didn’t want to be a cause of the problem,” Judah talks about the motivation for changing his rap bravura to theological references. “I’d rather be a solution to the problem. There’s enough artist out her talking about murder and killing, getting this woman, getting the bag and doing all this other stuff, which is detieriating our community and young impressionable minds. So, one day, I woke up knowing that I didn’t want to make that kind of music anymore. In the bible it says, ‘When you train up a child,’ so I’ve been trained to speak the word from my perspective and its not like I’m preaching to individuals, but this is what made me. All knowledge-based things, and everything with substance of that nature, that is what I’m in doctrine with. I can only give back what’s already inside of me.”
Judah Priest always had a static love for rap music. He remembers his first spit at the age of seven and his first performance, which was a talent show in high school. “If you remember the New Edition Story, when Bobby Brown got up there and froze, that was me. It was so reminiscent of me. The next time I got on stage, I wilded out, and the only thing that [Bobby Brown] instance made me do is, go back and study. I’m going to show my age a little. Do you remember when MTV was the primary source of music where they showcased concerts with Michael Jackson, and different rap artist? I wasn’t studying music. I was studying the movements of commanding the stage and interacting with the crowd. The next time I hit the stage I had comfort in what I learned. That’s the reason that I have the best performances, because even till this day, I still study.”
Although Judah learned stage presence, he still wasn’t in the music industry professionally. It wasn’t until he left college that he traveled to New York to link with best friend, brother, and Wu-Tang affiliate, Buddha Monk, that he’d really hustle, making dream into strategic reality…“Honestly, when I moved to New York, it was about my behavior. I was shifty as a kid. I didn’t really get into music the way I am right now. I had a lot of mentorships like my brother, Buddha Monk from Brooklyn Zu. That’s always closest to heart. After I got injured playing basketball in the ABA, coming out of college, I had to make a choice between doing music and doing sports."
Obviously, Judah chose the music. He frequented the studios with Buddha Monk, Old Dirty Bastard, and various artists. He became a member of Brooklyn Zu and he performed with other Wu-members like Cappadonna, Method Man, Ghost Face Killah to name a few. Judah was briefly part of the G-unit extension group called “G-Unit Rydahs… “Now, I’m living the fruits of my labor with all the hard work I put together.” he says
When Judah broke into the rap game, he didn’t secure the bag. He had to prove that he wanted a rap career more than anything else. That meant, going on tours without pay, carrying luggage like a mule for other rappers, learning the fundamentals of engineering, mixing, mastering, grunt work, and rapping without falter. “If I did spit a rap, I had to do pushups if I messed up, or get fifty punches right in my sternum. That was the bootcamp,” Judah explained the difference between floating into the music industry now compared to the militant training from the late 90’s, which was “Full Metal Jacket” structure... “If you can’t get through that, you can’t get through anything in life. Life is going to beat you down. It’s how you handle that beat down. Will you let it beat you down until you give up or are you going to take that beating and learn from that, and you don’t gotta get that same beating anymore.”
Judah clearly learned the lessons from those unique hazing’s. Instead of artist development, Judah says those moments were character builders that helped toughen him for the road ahead.
“Everything should be knowledge-based,” says Judah, “You gotta obtain street knowledge and you need to obtain education, and the balance between both. At the end of the day, the things that you obtain, it’s going to make you better and it will be an inspiration to others. In knowing that, we should look to educate ourselves on all aspects. You can’t act hood one day, and act hood in your professional setting. It will mess up your business. You gotta have equality about yourself,” Judah toggled the topic on becoming erudite in many fields, and not settling for one way of life.
In reverence of the music, Judah mixes old tunes with new sounds… “I experiment with different things, EDM, drum and bass, some new-age. I’m not doing trap music, but I’m not supposed to do it. It’s really being able to understand who I am, and learning to master something if anything. As long as the music has substance that I’m giving [that’s all that matters]. There are too many people judging the young artist about substance, by saying there is a lack in their music. It’s always the older generation saying that there is no substance. The things that we considered substance [back in the day], that’s not technically the substance that they are presenting. The music that they are giving, it’s not for our age bracket. It’s for the youth of today. They make music on what’s being showcased now, and the way they live it, so how can we judge them?”
Judah released Albums Tragedy of The Darkest Hour, Gods Beloved, The Sacrifice, Year of the Priest Hosted by DJ Rob Low, with snappish buzz singles, Valley of Kingz (2004), The Dark Ages 8/24 A.D (2015), Dark World (2016), The Day After Tomorrow (2017), The Rebirth 2018. He released album, Rise of an Empire (2018), and he’s dropping another album under record label Hands on Music Entertainment. “That’s the same label that Method Man is signed to, that he co-owns,” says Judah. “I’m working on 144, 000 Chosen Few. That’s my group. We have an EP and mixtape that’s about to drop in another month. The album is dropping at the end of the year. Right now, I’m focusing on the movies.”
The 144,000 Chosen Few is a group conditioned under the same label and clothing line, owned by Judah. And, speaking about the movie scores, Judah played in the The Round Table (2006) and Risen: The Story of Chron 'Hell Razah' Smith Himself (2018). He’s also actor in a web-based film called The 95 Series... “I had a small part in Creed 2, and I just finished filming this movie called “The Account,” with Mike Bass, and that will premiere on Netflix at the end of the year. Also, I’m in Hell Razah from son to man—We did that premier last year.”
Judah is a man of impeccable knowledge, who’s bountifully erudite, and that’s without question. He preaches the word through rap music, and he gives back to his community. He’s not a philanthropist because it seems like the right thing to do in front of the media. He’s a mentor because he’s truly a good soul. As a father and businessman, he just wants to do right by people in general. In fact, he’s maintained his own organization for about 6 years, because he knows the outcome of being in the streets. If anything, he wants to save the kids so that they can go on and share that legacy, his legacy with others... His father inspired him to get into the field of social work. “I have my own charity called the ‘Judah Priest Foundation.’ We do this thing called ‘The Judah Priest Warm Hearts.’ We do clothing drives for battered and abused women that’s in shelters as well as the youth that's technically delinquent. I work a 9 to 5 job as well. I work in a transitional home, helping adjudicated youth. I put myself into a lot of work with youth development. I show them different ways and different alternatives. We all been in different situations and different scenarios, but not too many people were showing these youths that they’ve been through the same things or offered a way out.”
What You Want (Official Video) By Judah Priest
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