Method Man Explains Wu-Tang Clan’s Tiered Pay Scale & The Rationale Behind It
Wu-Tang Clan is a diverse collective. In addition to an assembly of MCs from different sections of New York City, the Wu brothers signed to different labels and reached varying levels of success. The members of the Clan also split their money differently. When it comes to touring and other revenue, there is an internal pay scale that favors some members more than others.
Meth’ spoke at length with Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast and alluded to the internal issue. Having topped the charts as a solo artist, Method Man—who released his Tical debut shortly after the crew’s game-changing debut, and has seemingly always been an elite member of the clique.
In the interview, Method Man addresses U-God’s recent memoir and $2.5 million legal battle with the Wu. After joining RZA’s recent claim that much of the book is not truthful (in Meth’s eyes), the MC dismissed any idea that the Clan is fractured. “Are you kiddin’ me? [U-God will] be on tour with us later. Won’t be no sweat off nobody’s brow.” Next month, Wu is scheduled to headline Soundset Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota and perform their 25-year-old debut.
Method Man also believes that the collective can make more albums together. He played a dominant role in last year’s The Saga Continues album, produced by his DJ, Mathematics. “I can only speak for myself when it comes to the crew. I know I’m solid, and if there’s a Wu-Tang project I’m already in without being asked, but when it comes to touring, [it is a] whole different ballgame.”
Stern asks Method Man directly if touring is different because of “the pay splits?” The Drop The Mic co-host responds, “That’s some of it. [Some Wu-Tang Clan members] wanted to do a tier system, which I thought kind of draws a line in the sand, if you ask me, and alienates a lot of people. And in the same sense, you can look at it as you have some individuals who make a certain amount as an individual, but when they’re with the group they’re makin’ three, four times the amount that they would make. Then you have some individuals who make a certain amount when they’re by themselves, but when they’re with the crew they make less—sometimes half of what they usually get.”
Stern responds, “You’re clearly talking about yourself.” Method Man laughs and replies, “No, I mean…but you know. Then it becomes a problem where, if that person who’s used to making a certain amount is getting half of what he gets and he wants his whole thing now, something else has to suffer. So when those individuals making three to four times what they actually get have a problem with losing maybe a quarter of that, that’s when it’s like, ‘Oh, so it doesn’t work both ways?’ If you’re makin’ three to four times the amount and someone isn’t getting their just due, boom, I’d have no problem giving it. But the reality of the situation is, ‘Nah, I’m just as important,’ which is true, they are; and in the same sense, those same promoters you went to, I can go to and get that amount without going on the road with you guys.”
For nearly five years, Wu-Tang’s tiered pay-scale has been public knowledge. In 2014, Cappadonna, who is not a founding member revealed to HipHopDX, “There’s an upper tier now. The upper tier consists of Raekwon The Chef, Method Man, GZA, The RZA, and Ghostface [Killah]. That’s the upper tier. They started this on the European tour. It’s a system that was developed within our system to bring a certain status to individuals.” Thereby, U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck and Cap’ are lower-tiered. In 2014, RZA also confirmed the existence of the pay scale to DX. “I think it [was introduced by] a third party, one of our solo managers maybe. But when it penetrated I was like, ‘Yo, that really don’t make no sense.’ In that case, just give me the most money, if you wanna just go stupid like that. But what I’ma do with that? There’s a eight-slice piece of pie here, eight slices in the pizza. I’m gonna take two pieces? Nah, I’ll take my slice, you take your slice. If I take two slices somebody gotta cut theirs in half. That don’t make mathematical sense in that cypher. But as far as me going along with it, I was like, ‘Yo, I’ll put myself on a lower-tier and y’all could try it for a year if y’all want.’ But I’m not participating in that ideology nor am I gonna stop the boat from running when you got that many brothers saying, ‘F*ck that, this how they feel.’ So, we actually tried it for a year and I think we’re gonna have to vote on that again.”
That was 2014. In the same video package, Cappadonna corroborated that RZA accepted a lower pay rate, despite his “top tier” status.
In his new Daily Beast chat, Method Man opines on U-God’s Raw: My Journey Into The Wu-Tang memoir. Within the group, Method Man has perhaps appeared the closest to U-God, musically. Both are products of Shaolin. Meth’ has appeared on four out of five U-God albums, including last month’s Venom.
“You know, [the book consists of] U-God’s truths—that don’t mean that they’re true. Perception is crazy. He even wrote a lot of stuff about me, and he mentioned something about my mother-in-law that I know for a fact ain’t true; something about his son that I know for a fact isn’t true,” While appearing on The Breakfast Club, U-God spoke about an incident involving his son being shot, after a drug-dealer used him as a shield in a Staten Island gunfight. The rapper told the morning show that his clansmen did not emotionally support U-God during his son’s recovery. Meth’ continued, “It’s always been a tumultuous relationship. Think Vince McMahon and all the stuff he’s put up with over the years with all his wrestlers—he’s always the focal point of the blame. It’s the same with RZA. I’m not sayin’ it isn’t warranted, because some of it is warranted. We were all young and learning on the job.”
Method Man later adds, “U-God has a lot of other things he has to answer for outside of the RZA comments because he mentioned people around our way who had nothing to do with Wu-Tang Clan at all, though they were probably part of his life, and some of these guys have open cases and his truth isn’t their truth. We’re talking about gun violence, murder, drugs, all kinds of sh*t, and you can’t do that to people. People remember things differently, and somewhere in between lies the truth. From my perspective, he got a lot of sh*t wrong,” Method Man charges. “He got a lot of sh*t wrong, and you can’t do that. He might as well be like that guy on Oprah’s show [James Frey], where he fabricated a lot of sh*t. A Million Little Pieces of Sh*t.” In 2006, Oprah Winfrey confronted author James Frey on her program after The Smoking Gun found inaccuracies in his A Million Little Pieces best-selling memoir.
Elsewhere in the interview, Method Man condemned critics of Tupac Shakur. “It grinds my gears though to hear these new cats start attackin’ people that aren’t here to defend themselves. The whole Tupac thing, I don’t care how y’all young ni**as feel about Tupac and sh*t,” said his collaborator. Meth’ also confirms that “Got My Mind Made Up” began as a song for Tha Dogg Pound. As Stern points to Lil Xan (who made disparaging comments about Tupac), Meth’ continues, “People were tryin’ to say, ‘So what if [Lil Xan] not rockin’ with Tupac? He has a right to say that,’ and it’s like, no, he don’t got a right to say that. The only reason he has a right to say that is because Pac did that sh*t first. Pac walked so they could run. These f*ckin’ idiots. That’s like me tryin’ to sh*t on N.W.A. It’s because of N.W.A that I don’t got a sense of my f*ckin’ curse words on my records and I can say ‘f*ck the police’ and get away with that sh*t if I wanted to.”
The veteran MC also goes on record that he supports the investigative theories by LAPD Detective Greg Kading in the book/documentary Murder Rap. Kading published his findings, naming who his evidence supports killed Tupac Shakur (Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson) and Biggie Smalls (Wardell “Poochie” Fouse). Both of the alleged suspects have since been murdered. Method Man worked with both rappers.
Marlow Stern’s full Method Man interview at The Daily Beast.