Something is funny about the money and rapper U-God, born Lamont Jody Hawkins, is calling foul against his Wu-Tang Clan bandmates, suing them for $2.5M in royalties.
The Wu-Tang founder and Brooklyn, New York native claims in a suit filed in Manhattan that he contributed lyrics to 170 Wu-Tang Clan masters since helping found the historical hip hop group in 1993. Nevertheless, he hasn’t seen a dime in royalties over the past six years and hasn’t been given his biannual share in merchandising sales as agreed. All of this is a surprise to the 46-year-old, as the band has garnered a cult-like following, performing as recently as this summer and got a huge $2M check from disgraced pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli when he purchased Wu-Tang’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” at auction last year and kept it for himself.
In the suit, U-God points the finger at Hollywood socialite RZA and his brother Michael Diggs: “Robert Diggs and Mitchell Diggs abused the privilege of doing business in the corporate form of the Wu-Entities to perpetrate a wrong against [U-God], specifically, to exploit [their] music for their own personal gain and benefit.”
This isn’t the first time there’s been beef in the Clan. Since the 1990s, members have been battling it out. RZA, who’s often credited as the creative visionary of the group, pitted members against one another in rap battles to see who should be featured on each track. He told Rolling Stone, “If two parties are disputing [in a Shaolin temple], they would go to the abbot to get a third party’s thoughts. So I’m the abbot.” While the move proved golden (Wu-Tang Forever debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, selling 612,000 in the first week), perhaps it also sparked bad blood, as the squabbles since have been legendary. Most notable was an interview Method Man did on Big Boy’s Neighborhood radio show in 2003. Discussing the release of a coming album, he said, “Ain’t no Wu-Tang album going down unless everybody comes together as a group and stops coming together as these solo artists. Everybody, you know, basically, suckin’ they self off … you’re only as good as your last hit homey. Know what I’m saying? And our last hit was ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ That song came out in 1993.”
U-God has also found himself at odds with the group in the past, having released Rise of a Fallen Soldier, a 2004 anti-RZA DVD where he accused RZA of being the devil. RZA responded on the Wu-Tang website, “U-Godzilla has a distorted memory of the Wu and his involvement.” U-God later rejoined the group.
No word now on U-God’s future with the Wu-Tang Clan.