At the tail-end of last week, I was due to interview one of The Wu Tang Clan’s most eloquent, passionate and natural vocalists, Ghostface Killah. He, along with his accompanying Theodore Unit troupe, was to appear at the Scala in Kings Cross. Because of the reported nature of the hip-hop interview, I expected some degree of being mucked about but, inexperienced noob as I am, I hadn’t planned on the epic scenes I took in. Ineptitude, deviance and violence are all major players here, and it truly is a wonder that anything gets completed by these people.

I made myself available from approximately 2pm on the day of the interview, having been told that I would be telephoned with a meeting place and time. It wasn’t until around 5pm that I was told to meet the gig promoter outside the venue at about 8pm. This, I could stomach. I had time to prepare myself, to expect the worst and read a bit of my book with a coffee. Fine. 8pm rolled around, and I met the promoter, along with one other journalist intending to interview (we’d been allocated paltry 15-minute slots) and his photographer pal. Lovely stuff. We’re told that his Lordship Ghostface is not yet inside the building, and that phone calls were being made to ascertain his whereabouts. We retire upstairs for a beer.

One of those phone calls comes, and we’re told that they’ve finally left the hotel and, because of the Scala’s apparently non-existent back door, I should be the one to stand in the stairwell to catch the entourage and snag interview information. Of course, they slip by, or go in another way, or something, but they arrive ten minutes before stage time and we get the pleasure of speaking to Ghost’s manager. A smooth-talking, quiet and polite Frenchman, he assures us that after the show will be the best time to complete an interview, and that we should head in and enjoy the show.

The other journalist decides that, British transport being what it is to the commuting population, he should get a train back the ‘burbs so that he doesn’t spend all night trying in vain to get an interview. The show itself begins triumphantly, and continues to be triumphant for a good 45 minutes. Dennis Coles stalks menacingly around the stage, tightly and efficiently brushing lyrics out as if they were grit between his teeth. The shrieks begin to go up for Wildflower, but there’s a tension of sorts brewing. Casually, almost too casually, members of Theodore Unit bring out bales of t-shirts and CDs to sell, and the music stops until at least some are bought. At £25 per t-shirt, this is a slow process, and one that generates some serious animosity amongst a skint, recession-transfixed crowd. Some boo, some leave, some shout that it’s unfair and that some music should be played. Ghost himself assures those shouting that if they continue to badmouth him and his associates, then he knows some people who can “fuck you up real good”. In a final attempt to appease the crowd, he performs an a capella Wildflower to a half empty venue.


The show continues soon after, with several Dirty Bitches joining the crew on stage. One girl in particular, as pointed out by an eagle-eyed accomplice of my photographer friend, has disappeared into the dressing room side of stage. When the door opens, she is fellating one of the support acts and stands up quickly, embarrassed. On stage, the lines between stage and floor become blurred as the venue continues to empty and the performers continue to perform. When things grind to a halt, it becomes obvious that there is a queue of women outside the dressing room waiting to see Ghost. Some take longer than others to emerge from the room again. I join the queue and attempt to attract the attention of the manager.

The door opens and slams repeatedly, we see all manner of people flying in and out of the doors, but the door with Ghost behind it remains locked. I speak to his manager, who assures me that the interview will proceed soon, and that maybe it would involve going back to the Hilton to complete it. Apparently, our man Dennis is “currently in an interview of his own”. It’s difficult to tell which girl was in there with him and for how long, but he looks tired on his emergence. People continue to mill about. I ask again about the interview. The manager assures me, again, that everything’s fine. Still more people disappear backstage for photos, autographs and blow-jobs. I ask the manager again, he reassures me again.

I ask for a final time, the venue close to total dereliction. Surely, if there was a time for an interview, this was it. The manager turns on me, all of a sudden. “Why the fuck are you still here? No fucking interview today! I already fucking told you! Why do you people not listen?!” I calmly (whilst shitting myself) explain that the interview had been sorted out a good few weeks in advance, and that I’d not be leaving without one. I was met with another similarly inane and confusing torrent, and then ejected by a very friendly security man. Leaving, I call to J-Love and Shawn Wigs on stage “thanks anyway, guys, good show”, and I’m given an embarrassingly silent response. Everyone’s a little confused. Things got ugly really quickly. Why had the gig itself descended so quickly into bizarre farce? Where’s the respect from artist to audience? Do they expect this with every act they see? Should I have offered fellatio? The answers are, very probably, pointless when considering such an unaffected performer and his bespoke industry.

More here.



Filed under Longs

11 responses to “Ghostfaceless

  1. Great piece. Had a similar experience around his Manchester, but glad I didn’t push for a ‘face to face’ interview rather than a phoner.

    As I half expected the interview never happened, despite the PR / tour management’s excitement when arranging it all.

    The gig itself descended into parody by the end – review here –

    Cliche’s are indeed, alive and kicking…

  2. popmusicology

    Sounds pretty similar to the Scala show, the MC battle thing really kills the momentum… I’m totally glad I pushed for face-to-face, something to tell the grandkids and all that. when they’re over eighteen.

  3. rob

    wow. a good read though, nonetheless!

    oh, it’s ‘greedy bitches’ btw… but after reading, i think you might be right!

  4. HiBen

    nomnomnom dribble lol!!!

  5. popmusicology

    Well quite.

  6. Rob

    having been in this situation many times I can assure you this piece is funnier and more enlightening than any interview with GK could ever be.

  7. Fiona


    As someone who deals with famous and precious people on a regular basis I can assure you that unfortuately being messed around can happen…my advice if this ever happens again – don’t bother!

    Interviews always run late and sometimes you are expected to watch a gig before interviewing – but the way that manager spoke to you was unforgivable. I’d have been tempted to have sworn back at him!

    Still, it’s always good to have a tale – we all have one in the office. I’ll never forget the time Quentin Tarantino was rude to me in front of a room full of people who all laughed at my expense. It was totally shameful at the time – but quite funny now.

    • popmusicology

      Oh I’ve interviewed plenty of people and had to wait around and been messed about, but the whole night was just surreally perfect, and like you say, a story worth telling!

  8. Heheh. As the other journalist referred to above, all I can say is that I’m pleased I left early. I’ve seen him live before, once in London at the Coronet where the girls-on-stage-at-end thing also happened but where he at least seemed to give a damn, and twice in the US when he was touring with Rakim, Brother Ali and a fantastic band who backed all three artists, and there he was exceptional. Maybe they just don’t care when they’re not playing to an audience back home. Then again, he’s been over here as part of Wu-Tang for gigs and always given his all.

    Incidentally, our interview situation was similarly surreal but without the threats and shouting, and had the same result. The tour manager gave us a contact number and told us to call him on the following Monday, when they’d be in London for the night between the Manchester gig and heading off to the continent. We could meet up with them on a day when there was no gig and get to do something then. The TM didn’t know where they were staying at this stage (odd, for a Tour Manager, mid-tour, to not know what hotels they’re booked in to for five days hence) but said it would be near to Euston station.

    I emailed to confirm this the following day, and left a voicemail message too, but heard nothing back so on the Monday I called around 2pm. I was told they still weren’t sure yet where they were staying, and that they’d call me by 4. They didn’t call, obviously, so at 5 I gave him a ring back, explaining – as I had done in the earlier conversation, and in the email – that I needed a couple of hours’ notice to be wherever they wanted me to be because I don’t live in London. I was told at 5 that if I could be at the K-West hotel in Shepherds Bush “now”, I could get an interview. I explained, for the fourth time, that it would take me approximately two hours to get there, and that even if I had been sitting on a park bench in London waiting for his call all day (which, since he hadn’t confirmed anything at all, I wasn’t keen to have been doing) I’d have needed a good 40 mins as I’d have been in Euston based on what I’d been told previously. I said I could be there by 8, and the TM said he couldn’t be sure that he’d know where Ghost would be at that time. So I said “OK, no problem, enjoy the rest of the tour” and went back to chalking it all up to experience.

    The shame of it is that, contrary to what someone said (in jest, I’m sure) above, when you get him to focus and concentrate he’s actually a very fine interviewee – almost as good as he is an artist. Yet with hip hop entering its fourth decade as a commercial product the same bullshit – bad advice, bad advisors, inability to see that communication is in most circumstances A Good Thing – prevails. I’ve been through this and similar enough times not to be surprised, or particularly bothered, really. I’m certainly not sore because I’m a journalist and I think I’m that important, or owt like that – I’d have had absolutely no problem at all if they’d just said at the outset, “No, sorry, we don’t want to do this, there won’t be time, and we can’t be arsed in general.” It’s the being messed about which is totally unnecessary, and just results in souring everyone on the thing that we’re all here because we care about, which is the exceptional music.



  9. Great piece. And one of the reasons I gave up wanting interviewing big names ages ago. Love the line about fellatio at the end!

  10. that’s why the producers have taken over, too many rappers in it for the pussy, the money and the rider… it’s not like most of them haven’t told us that enough times though. doubt I’d have made it the whole way through a Ghostface interview but stuck with this one so sounds like you were better off. Had a fair few interview nightmares, horrible at the time but usually rather funny after.

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