The highlights of producer Mathematics' Wu Tang and Friends: Unreleased (Nature Sounds) don't come from Raekwon or Ghostface (though both make appearances), but rather unsung Shaolin soldiers like the currently incarcerated Superb (of American Cream Team and Supreme Clientele fame) and M-Speed, who was shot and killed in '03. Posse cuts like "Where's Brooklyn @?" (featuring Bad Luck, All Day, and Allah Real) and "U Don't Care" (featuring Killah Priest, Hot Flamez, and Buddah Bless) take one back to the late-'90s glory days, when the Wu umbrella included a certifiable army of affiliated crews and sub-cliques like Sunz of Man, GPWu, Killarmy, Royal Fam... the list goes on. We took the opportunity to grill Math on the whereabouts of some of the forgotten Killa Bees who turn up on Unreleased, which collects rarities recorded between 1997 and 2006.
Solomon Childs (featured on "King Toast Queen")
"I've loved Solomon's voice from when I first heard him on Cappadonna's The Pillage," Mathematics says. The Staten Island MC, also known as Killa Bamz, left the Theodore Unit (the Ghostface-affiliated crew known in an earlier incarnation as T.M.F.) but recently turned up on Ghost's More Fish. Childs recently dropped the King Kong of New York mixtape and is preparing a solo debut through Wu Music Group. "I'm supposed to be working with him on that," Math says. "I just sent him some beats."
Hell Razah (featured on "Masked Avengers")
"I worked with Hell Razah a few times but we never finished nothing besides that joint there, and a track for Sunz of Man that was only released overseas," Math recalls. Possibly the most political of all Wu affiliated MCs, Hell Razah has stayed active, forming Black Market Militia with Tragedy, Timbo King, and Killah Priest while keeping Sunz of Man alive. Renaissance Child (Nature Sounds), his first proper solo album, dropped last month. "Razah really knows how to get in there and knock it out," Math says. "He's not about bullshit."
Shyheim (featured on "Masked Avengers," "Non-Eq uivalent")
When Shyheim first emerged he was 14 and the Wu was barely a year out the gate, making him not only the youngest Clan affiliate but the first extended fam member to release an album. While his follow-ups have all bricked, he's been called the "greatest kiddie rapper of all time" on the strength of '94's AKA The Rugged Child. "I've worked with Shyheim many times," Math says. "'Non-Equivalent' might be the first we did, around '97. He's been acting for a while–he was on Robert Townsend's show The Parent 'Hood."
Allah Real (featured on "Where's Brooklyn @?," "Wanna Believe")
A Wu elder with a soulful voice reminiscent of Al Green, Allah Real is best known for singing the lilting hook on RZA's 2003 single "Grits." "I basically grew up under Allah, hearing him sing all the time, before I even thought about records," Math says. "He's from near me in Queens but he's been in Brooklyn for years, so I put him on that song ("Where Brooklyn @?"). I'm tryna do more with R&B, so you might just see me do an album with him."