Although he is often called the “mysterious” member of Wu-Tang Clan, Masta Killa is outwardly one of the most friendly people you’ll ever meet. His 2004 album No Said Date is regarded far and wide by critics as one of the best solo projects ever released by a Wu member, and he since released two other formal solo projects and a live album. Now celebrating the release of Wu-Tang’s sixth studio album A Better Tomorrow, Masta Killa has admittedly been able to forge a great life with his craft over two decades.
Living on a philosophy of open-minded spirituality and positive energy, the longtime vegetarian recently made the transition to being a full-on vegan. Although he wasn’t born into a vegetarian lifestyle, he has made his transition from eating meat to veganism openly and consciously over the years, and is a supporter of PETA.
In this UrbLife.com exclusive interview, we talked with Masta Killa about how he maintains health and focus as a vegan, and his thoughts on this stage of his career.
Let’s talk about your vegan transition. Were you originally raised as a vegetarian?
Masta Killa: No, but actually growing up I didn’t really like meat. It was kind of forced on me. You’re being tricked into eating it, because if you sat at the table and eat your steak or chicken, you probably don’t want it. But then you get told that you’re gonna go to McDonald’s, so then you get tricked into the fast food thing, but I never really like meat. So me going back into vegetarian/vegan is just me going back into my natural self.
Is your decision to not eat meat based on animal cruelty?
MK: Well, that’s a reason. Another reason is that it’s much more healthy. The body is a living organism that produces and regenerates every day, so you should feed it life. It’s like putting something bad in your gas tank. You put something dead inside your body, it will stop reproducing anything. Life can only come from life.
What was your reason for transitioning to veganism?
MK: Just breaking it down to higher stages.
So that would mean no eggs or dairy?
MK: No dairy completely. No eggs, no milk, no cheese.
No butter either?
MK: Well see, there’s vegan butter. For everything you would use as far as dairy or a meat product, there’s a vegan or vegetable-based substitute. So you just have to find it.
So do you go and seek cookbooks or recipes? How do you manage not eating the same thing every day?
MK: Once you find your substitutes for everything that you love, it’s basically easy after that. There are a lot of companies out there that make veggie and vegan products. Whatever you like to eat, if it’s finger food, sandwich food or a full course meal, you just find the substitutes for the veggie stuff that you like, and daily it’s whatever you have a feel for.
As far as touring and being on the road traveling, how do you maintain then?
MK: You just have to find the most basic thing to put together. The thing is not to be hungry [laughs]. As long as I’m not hungry, I nourished myself. If that was a bowl of potatoes, or a serving of French fries, whatever I did to get through the day, it got me through the day. When out on the road it is tougher to eat because of the different places that you’re visiting, but you can always find something. There are always substitutes out there, you just have to be disciplined.
What advice would you give to someone who’s getting into being a vegetarian or vegan later in life? What are some tips you would give them as far as nutrition?
MK: Well, I also take vegan vitamins to make sure that I get enough of everything that I might be lacking based on my diet. Just make sure that you’re totally healthy, 360, and don’t hurt yourself. Don’t starve yourself, take your time, and gradually become healthy. Break it down in stages if you can.
Some people I know went cold turkey. They just stopped everything. Vitamins are very important, so make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you should be getting even if you’re not eating enough vegetables. Take your vitamins, good exercise and a lot of water and you should live till at least 120. [laughs]
What makes this new Wu-Tang album A Better Tomorrow different from others for you?
MK: It’s a new beginning. It feels good, and it feels fresh every time we come back to where it all started. This is the family that birthed my solo career, so to come back with the family and do it again and see the response of people you are working with and fans because of something that you did… that was beautiful at a point in time. You gave them a beautiful piece of music. So to see that everyone is excited about doing it again is a great feeling, and I feel good right now. I’m looking forward to this album doing real good things.
Going into the next couple of years, do you see yourself doing another solo album?
MK: I love music, and I always want to be creative, whether I’m working on my stuff or helping others that’s coming up. I have a son that’s working right now, young Shamel Irief coming soon, and I’m working on that project as well besides my solo thing. But now it’s about A Better Tomorrow. I’m real excited about this album. I think the fans and the public are gonna love it. It’s a classic I would say, and I just want the people to enjoy this for right now. If they do, I have something in the oven ready for you.
What do you want people to know most about you at this stage in your life?
MK: I strive to be positive man more so than anything. From the time I rise until the time I retire, I want to be at the end of my day every day to say I did more positive than negative. And if anyone can weigh and judge the type of man that I am and strive to be, I want to always be the kind of man who strives to be more on the positive side than negative.