This interview was conducted by Hiphopgame.com a few years ago. Definitely a good read!
This is dope. The intro came from this movie "The Egyptian." I like watching those old flicks. There was "The Egyptian" and "Jesus Christ" that I used.
* One Step (Prod. by True Master) (Feat. Tekitha and Hell Razah)
I actually ended up doing this during a Sunz of Man session. True Master was in the studio. Originally, Popa Wu was on there. Thatís why I said, "Freedom, lets feed Ďem/They took the first book of Jacob to Jamaica" because Popa Wu was talking on it. I just got on the mic and did it. Hell Razah was there so he did the hook.
* Blessed Are Those (Prod. by Y-Kim)
Thereís a big story behind this one. That was an incredible time right there. This wasnít an original beat. They had to go in there and do it again. Al Green wouldnít clear the sample. I called up Al Green and got on the phone with him. I called him Al Green. Al Green was fronting because of my name "Killah Priest", because heís supposed to be a preacher and everything. Me and him ended up having words with each other. Thatís a highlight of my career. They wouldnít clear it, so we ended up having to redo it. I still have the original beat. Were going to leak that one out there too.
This also got the Rhyme of the Month in The Source. I didnít even think this was that strong. We ended up doing this track towards the end of recording for the album and we just put it in the right place.
* From Then Till Now (Prod. by Y-Kim)
This is great. This was a great time. Thereís a big story behind this one too. Ghostface wanted this beat also. I was coming up and I was like, "I got it, I got it." Me and Ghost were going at it over this beat. I think Ghost had enough tracks though. I ended up getting the beat. Y-Kim definitely came through on this one. The whole Clan wanted this track. Everyone was going crazy over the beat. I had known Y-Kim for awhile because he was from Brownsville. My man Full Moon is the one talking at the beginning. This song was magic. I did this in a house studio out in Flatbush.
* Cross My Heart (Prod. by True Master) (Feat. Inspectah Deck and GZA)
This was another incredible track. This was done by True Master. It definitely sounds like a RZA joint. Thereís a good story on this one. We ended up doing this one out in Cali. RZA was on the original one. It was me, RZA and GZA. At the end of the day, he wanted his verse off of it. I assured him that his verse was dope. We went back-and-forth. We took RZA off "Cross My Heart" and put Inspectah Deck on the track who came in and murdered it. Deck recorded his verse in New York. There are so many stories behind "Heavy Mental" because it took awhile for it to come out.
* Fake MCs (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
We did this out in Steubenville, Ohio, at 4th Disciples crib. This was also done at the end of the album. 4th played the beat. We were in a small-ass room and it was real dope. I was like, "This is crazy." Every time 4th makes a dope beat, he doesnít go crazy over it. I ended up just jumping on this track and doing it right there.
* Its Over (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
We did this out in Cali. This was with 4th Disciple. This was my first deal and I wanted to keep it moving. I just made up the intro out there. We did all of this out there. 4th made the beat around the rhymes. I kicked the rhyme and then when I heard the beat, I was like, "Its over!" There were two girls around from New York and we threw them on the track too. Thatís who you hear screaming "run!" We just put them in front of the mic and they did a good job.
* Crusaids (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
This is a phat-ass song. This was featuring Rose Cartel and the whole Sunz of Man. Rose ended up being in The Maccabeez. This ended up being crazy-long. We were all rhyming on this. I think 4th Disciple still has the original track of this. I think there were 12 MCs on there going crazy with long-ass rhymes.
* Tai Chi (Prod. by 4th Disciple) (Feat. Hell Razah, 60-Second Assassin, and Father Lord [R.I.P.])
This was really the first track I made for "Heavy Mental." Hell Razah and 60-Second went to the studio with me. 4th Disciple played this beat and my girl at the time was in there and she was like, "What beat is that?" It was a wrap from there. 4th Disciple definitely came through on this beat. We did another song that day called "Break it Down" that never came out. Prodigal Sunn was on that one.
* Heavy Mental (Prod. by Killah Priest)
I produced this one! This was a song that I always wanted to do to get off my chest. I lost the first one. I always tell this story. I was on a ferry boat in Staten kicking it with Prodigal. I kicked him the rhyme and he was like, "Are you going to say all that?" I was like, "Yeah, man." The rhyme was on a piece of paper, and I turned around and could not find it. I finished up the last part in the studio. I was so mad. I was like, "Lets record it right now." There was really no sample but it was a dope sound I got. It was an Australian musical instrument. I got it in the art department of the guy who was designing my album. I heard that instrument and said, "Youíre going to the studio" and we laid it there.
* If You Donít Know (Prod. by True Master) (Feat. Ol Dirty Bastard)
Oh man, this one has my brother O.D.B. This was during the same time that we did "Cross My Heart." We were still out in Cali. It worked out good. I was out there for a minute. Dirty came to the studio and he was bugging. I donít know if he was high, but he came to the studio saying that aliens were chasing him. He came through with his girl, got on the mic, and did his thing. True gave us two bangers out there, "Cross My Heart" and "If You Donít Know." This was a marriage right here. This was Masta Killaís and GZAís favorite joint off the album.
* Atoms to Adam (Prod. by True Master)
This was a beautiful time. This was done during the time the Sunz of Man album was coming together. I heard the track in New York and it blew my mind. It was a phenomenal track and I had never heard anything like it at the time. We were just experimenting with a lot of different styles. We went out to Cali and I just spazzed out. This beat is so melodic. My man Shanghai sung throughout the whole song. He wouldnít get off the mic! We had to chop up his vocals. Thatís why you hear the "oooooh oooooh." You should hear the original version. I came in and blessed it. This one took awhile because I was just zoning out on the beat so much. This beat is so melodic.
* High Explosives (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
Q-Base was working with Y-Kim. I was doing a lot of work at his crib. I did a lot of stuff at his crib, like "Blessed Are Those" and "Mystic City." He threw on this track and I was like, "This shit sounds crazy." At the time, the beat sounded like some high explosive Dr. Dre shit. I just called the shit "High Explosives" and we took it from there.
* Wisdom (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
This was done at the same time as "Fake MCs" out in Steubenville in 4th Disciples room. He had this small orange light in his room and he played this track. This took two takes and it was done. We didnít even want to touch that. I was staying at 4th's crib in Ohio and we were knocking out mad songs. This song came out of a little mood. This was done during the last stages of "Heavy Mental." The album sat around for so long. They kept on pushing it back so we just kept recording songs for it.
* B.I.B.L.E. (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
The original one was done in RZAís crib, way back. It was Shabaaz the Disciple who put me on to this beat. He was like, "You have to listen to this track." When I heard the track, I was like, "Yo, this is dope." This was the first track that I ever recorded. I was listening to Raekwon. He was doing "Cuban Linx," recording songs and stuff. He was downstairs. I had actually done this song for "Cuban Linx" but I was trying to be on a positive tip. I did some stuff for that. After I did it, they were thinking about letting this one make it. This came across too positive. I said, "Straight-up, I ainít the thug-type." They were like, "This has to be hard." After that session, I went back in and all of a sudden, the track got lost. RZA was like, "I donít know where that track is at." After I got my deal, we still couldnít find "Basic Instructions." 4th came back and redid the track. Everybody loved this song so much. RZA said it was too positive and happy for "Liquid Swords," but GZA was like, "Nah, were putting it on there." A lot of people donít know that I came in with one of the illest MCs that started up with the Clan. I was amongst RZA and GZA and it was just crazy for me.
We worked on this so many times. We got it mixed here, got it mixed there. A lot of cats were just vibing to it, smoking weed in a studio out in Cali. I got a bad report. The studio called up Geffen Records and said, "Thereís too much smoking in Priests sessions. Heís a cool dude, but its the entourage that he brings with him." I had a lot of cats with me when we recorded. After I laid the vocals, it just came out right. Iím one of the first cats to have his whole song featured on another album. That was the first song right there. That was a blessing to do that song. I had that rhyme for a very long time. It was basically about my life.
* Mystic City (Prod. by Y-Kim)
Like I said before, this was also done during the time of "High Explosives." I had to go back and do this twice. I liked the first version, but everyone else liked the second version. I was more relaxed on the first version, but everyone wanted a more aggressive version. Y-Kim wanted me to go back and re-spit it. This ended up getting a lot of props too. I forced this one to be on the album. I think this was the last song that we did.
* Information (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
Let me think about this one. We did this during the time of "Crusaids" and all that. No, this was done in Steubenville at 4th Disciples crib. 4th had given me this conspiracy book and we were reading the scriptures, lighting candles. A lot of information was being given out. Cats donít make songs like this. You have to vibe out on tracks like this. We were lighting candles reading conspiracy books, and this shit just came across. Where are you gonna run, where are you gonna hide?
* Science Projects (Prod. by 4th Disciple) (Feat. Hell Razah)
This was done in Soundtrack in New York. 4th Disciple was the only producer I was working with until True Master and Y-Kim came through and blessed me. We did this in New York. Like I said earlier, I had my clique with me. Razah and 12 Oí Clock were there. Dirty came through. This beat sounded like a movie. Prodigal Sunn told me I should talk about my life and where I grew up at. I ended up doing exactly what he said at the beginning of the song. This was incredible right here. The beat sounded like a movie, and I wrote the rhyme right there on the spot. The beat was so melodic that I just wanted to do something different and rhyme a certain way, and actually be a part of the rap. If you listen to "Science Projects" real good, I do become the character and I rhyme in 3rd-person. It all intertwines. Itís a different type of style because I liked the beat. Then Razah came up with "Life in the science projects, life in the science projects." Then he changed it and we were like, "Why donít you name all the projects?"
* Almost There (Prod. by 4th Disciple)
This is another rhyme that I used to kick. This was one of the first joints that I did. I think I did this before "Tai Chi." We were in the studio and we did this song called "Life is a Gamble" and it never made the album. This was one of the songs we did when we were working on my demo. "Almost There" almost didnít make it. I kicked the rhyme and this was just one of those beats that took me somewhere. When 4th put that on there, I heard it. One of my favorite topics is travel and taking the audience on a ride with me. This was up-tempo so it was perfect for me to take the audience on a ride. Thatís second-nature for me. This was a good track for me. He made some of the beat around the rhyme. I was saying, "Are we almost there?" I had never been in the studio that much. Yeah, Iím almost there.
* The Professional (Prod. by John the Baptist)
This brings us to the closing and one of the illest songs. I worked with John the Baptist, and I was one of the first to work with him. I always get to work with the first producers that bang shit out. We were out in Miami recording this song. This version is not the original. The original was called "How to MC" or something like that. It was a whole different song. I did two songs to this beat. It was crazy. John the Baptist still has the original one to this day. I think it was RZA that heard the beat and liked it so much that they were like, "Yo, that shit is dope." I donít know what it was that made me go back in the studio and record another track. I was just showing that I was a professional. Thatís why I was saying that in the rhyme. They were like, "That song is dope. The rhyme is cool and the beat is nice." I was like, "No beat is going to show me out." I went back to do a whole new song over that. The first one was banging too.
With all of these songs put together, this album became a classic. I knew it would have something to allow it to live longer that a lot of MCs. I never thought it would have the great impact it does. Every time I do shows, people are like, "Yo Priest, do songs off of Heavy Mental! " A lot of people appreciate that. That makes me feel good because thatís something that I created all by myself, as far as getting the studio time, having everyone coming through, and the cats that I wanted on the album. It was all fun. It was a learning experience. I had to get used to the studio, learn how to work the microphone, how to work the engineersÖI was always up at the label and they were like, "How are we going to market this." They wanted to market it as "alternative." Now look at how many years itís been. People still tell me, "Priest, thatís one of the best albums created in Hip Hop." Talk about evolution, this album is something different. Just look at the beats. Pun used to tell me, "This shit is crazy!" I couldnít be around them all the time because I had my own clique. I forgot how many Micís I got, but I should have gotten 5 Micís on this album, hands down.