At last night's (May 15) 2013 Rock The Bells announcement, HipHopDX spoke to Wu-Tang Clan founding member U-God. The Staten Island, New Yorker will take the stage with his Wu brethren on this summer's tour. DX asked the golden-arms emcee about his longtime affiliate Shyheim, and reports from Jay-Z's Decoded book that "da Rugged Child" was initially planned to appear on 1996 Reasonable Doubt deep cut, "Coming Of Age." Due to Sha's mid-'90s incarceration while signed to Virgin/EMI Records, he would be replaced on the song by Jay's longtime protege Memphis Bleek.
"Let me say one thing about [Shyheim]: I raised that little nigga," explained U-God. "[The] streets raised him too, and I always told him: 'You could always tell kids certain things in the streets, but it’s on them to carry it out.' To me, he just got around the wrong crowd of niggas and succumbed to the bullshit. That’s a problem with our people…we self-destruct. He don’t even know that's the environment he in, and sometimes that’s all a person really got, but that’s not really all you have. He made wrong choices that led him to that situation."
While legal woes in the 1990s may have shorted Shyheim's career, especially given his onetime mentorship by Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z and U-God, those issues are still prevalent in the Shaolin emcee's life. "You know he back locked up again right?," pointed U-God of last month's drug raid that may send Shyheim back to federal prison. "The craziest situation is I don’t even really think [the drugs are] his, 'cause I know how the hood is arranged. I could just look at it and say heat is in the crib and this was there in the crib. You in the crib, sharing it with four or five different mothafuckas who just living and eating; that don’t mean it’s yours...so I understand the whole situation." While Shyheim has professed his innocence and criticized the New York Police Department's tactics in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, U-God asserts that no matter the outcome, there are bigger concerns. "People don’t really understand that poverty shit. Where you goin' with the struggles…where your hardships are and he livin' with three four brothers eatin', and [they] might be sellin weed over here and he might be workin'. He might on some crazy psycho shit; it’s a mixture of nigga shit. I pray for the god, man. I hope he make it through the hardship he goin' through right now… that shit fucks me up. That’s my little nigga, man. I seen that boy grow up. He love that gangsta shit, he do."
The Rock The Bells 2013 tour begins in Southern California on September 13, and runs through October.
Additional Reporting by Jake Paine