Wu-Tang Clan introduced their affiliates Sunz of Man to the hip hop world in 1994. The group bulldozed their way in with their horrorcore street anthem “Soldiers of Darkness,” followed through with “No Love Without Hate,” and took it to the next level with the hit “Shining Star” featuring Ol’ Dirty Dastard (RIP), Earth, Wind & Fire, and Wyclef Jean.
The music was deep influential hip hop with that signature Wu appeal. The group members consisted of Killah Priest, Prodigal Sunn, Shabazz the Disciple, 60 Second Assassin and Hell Razah. My all time standout Sunz of Man album was ‘Saviorz Day,’ which dropped in 2002. The joint “Honey Tree” stood on repeat.
The Wu-Tang legacy is deep. Their longevity in the industry is admirable to say the least. And I had the extreme honor of interviewing Hell Razah. He has been creating music and his recent documentary ‘Risen: The Story of Chron ‘Hell Razah’ Smith,’ which has received accolades from the film industry.
I appreciate him sharing his inspiring story after surviving a horrible near death experience from a brain aneurysm that transformed his whole outlook on life. I too was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder in 2009. It’s painful and a challenge to cope with. I only shared my struggles with a few people. I was elated to see someone in hip hop brave enough to discuss their experience with the masses regarding such a dire medical condition. Hell Razah had to relearn how to talk and walk again. And in the end, he triumphed! Check out his amazing testimony:
Tell us who and/or what motivated you to start rapping.
My oldest brother Traybag was my first motivator to start rapping because he was the one I came up under close and personal with. And to see how it was really created besides listening to the songs that was on the radio and watching music videos on television.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
My influences came from the legendary artists I was listening to at the time like Eric B & Rakim, KRS-One, Ice Cube, Grand Puba & Brand Nubian, Public Enemy, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Cypress Hill, Run-DMC, Biz Markie, Redman, EPMD, and Tragedy Khadafi aka Intelligent Hoodlum. All of them gave me major inspiration when I was growing up!
Who formed Sunz of Man? Tell us about the members and the motivation behind the music.
The founding members of the Sunz of Man is Killah Priest, Prodigal Sunn, Shabazz the Disciple, and Sixty Second Assassin. We all came from different places in Brooklyn. It was spiritual conscious combined. Killah Priest is the biblical element of the group. Sixty Second and Prodigal were the Nation of Gods and Earth element of the group. Shabazz was the Nation of Islam element of the group. And I am the spiritual, street, project poet, consciousness youth element of the group.
How did you link up with Wu-Tang Clan?
I linked up with Wu-Tang because me and Shabazz both come from Red Hook projects in Brooklyn. His cousin Freestyle from the Arsonists was telling us about this group from Staten Island that he knew about that was big. At that time, we were called the Madd Mobb. He was talking about The Gravediggaz. RZA was working on something new. He introduced us to the RZA who then invited Shabazz to the Firehouse studio in the city. This was the same time they were working on the first Wu-Tang album ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’. I was like 14 years old.
What was it like when you first realized you were a part of a big hip hop movement?
It was like a dream that became my reality suddenly!
How was your first time touring? Where did you go? What’s the most memorable moment?
My first time touring was an incredible experience. The first time we toured together was in the United States. We hit Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles , Virginia, DC, Maryland and Baltimore. It was amazing. I never expected to see that many people coming to support us and knew all of our songs! The next tour we did was out of the country in Amsterdam, Germany, Canada, Paris and London.
What’s your favorite project and why?
My favorite project is the first Sunz of Man album, ‘The last shall be First’. I worked entirely hardbody on that album and with my favorite musicians like Earth, Wind, and Fire, Wyclef, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP), RZA, True Master, 4th Disciple, and Supreme (who helped me do everything). Can’t forget Method Man, Raekwon, U-God, and Masta Killa.
Some years ago, you had an aneurysm. Describe what took place leading up to the event and after. How was the recovery process?
I almost died. It started from headaches that lead to the aneurysm after I just came back from a tour. I was at work with my oldest brother in New York City when it happened. The recovery process began in the hospital after my surgery. It was a great success! I had to learn how to do things all over again: from talking to walking. I had to become independent again.
Do you have any advice for others undergoing medical issues but still pushing through?
The only advice I have is trust in the Lord more than anything else. Keep your focus on your recovery more than anything else you have going on. There will be major distractions. You need to have your own medical coverage. Nothing else is going to cover your bills.
How was your experience putting together a film on your medical ordeal? Tell us who was a part of it. How did it feel to get recognition on a project well done?
Putting together my film was watching my prayers getting answered. In my reality, everyone who is part of it is everybody who was with me helping me with things for my recovery like my family and friends. The ones who didn’t turn their backs on me during the times this was all happening. My director Frank Meyer has been doing work with me for years in my rap career. He worked at the record label Sunz of Man was signed to, so the trust was there. I had all the right people who I needed to be involved already with me. I had my queen, the Prophet was helping me out with everything I had going on. I continued to keep working on my recovery with support.
Visit site for more info: http://www.risendocumentary.com
What do you think of the evolution of hip hop?
The evolution of hip hop, I think, is a powerful reminder to everyone who does hip hop. It shows us how influential the music has been over the years.
Do you have any upcoming projects? If so, who are the producers, artists, and when is it dropping?
My upcoming projects is the soundtrack to my movie ‘Risen’ produced by Shroom. I also have a few solo albums in the works. I’m doing a project with Bronze Nazareth. Sunz of Man is working on our next new album. My mixtape series is out now called ‘Hood Transporter’ volume 1-8 with DJ Kenni Starr and can be purchased here: https://www.promote.hiphop/news/hood-transporter-series
Weekly Rap Gods would like to thank Hell Razah for granting us this exclusive interview. We wish you continued success in all of your ventures and your health. I’m excited to hear about the next Sunz of Man project. Thank you for your contributions to the Hip Hop culture.