Lamont Jody Hawkins (born November 10, 1970), better known as U-God (short for Universal God), is an American Rapper and member of the hip hop collective, Wu Tang Clan. He has been with the group since its inception and is known for having a deep, rhythmic flow that can alternate between being gruff or smooth. He is the group’s lowest-pitched member known for his baritone golden voice.
Hawkins was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York. However, he moved to Staten Island as a youth. He was originally a beatboxer for fellow Clan member Cappadonna as well as being well-known friends with future members Method Man, Inspektah Deck and childhood friend Raekwon. Sometime before the members united, U-God was mentored in rap by Jackpot Scotty Wotty. He soon became friends with RZA and Ghost Face Killah and he began rhyming under the alias Golden Arms, based on the Kung-Fu movie Kid with the Golden Arm. Later on he changed his name to U-God (which is short for “Universal God of Law”).
U-God was convicted of criminal possession of a substance on April 17, 1992 and was paroled in January 1993. His incarceration prevented him from featuring heavily on the group’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), his input on the seminal LP consisting of only a short bridge on the group’s debut single “Protect Your Neck” as well as the now-famous opening verse of “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'”. Nevertheless, after his release, he quickly became known to fans for his rugged flow and bass-like voice on Wu tracks such as “Winter Warz”, “Knuckleheadz”, “Investigative Reports”, and “Black Jesus”. He was featured heavily on the group’s multi-platinum second album Wu-Tang Forever on which he was one of only four of the group to get a solo track – “Black Shampoo”. He’s also featured on many solo projects such as Ghostface “Supreme Clientele” on his hit single “Chez Chez Le Ghost. Around this time his young son was accidentally shot and injured, an ordeal the rapper documented on the Wu-Tang Clan track A Better Tomorrow, coincidentally also the title of the group’s next album due out late 2013.
U-God released his first solo album, Golden Arm Redemption in 1999 on Priority Records, which displayed a wide variety of sounds from gritty blaxploitation funk to urgent string sections and featured guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members and affiliates. It had two singles in “Dat’s Gangsta” and “Bizarre”. The song “Rumble” was used as the main song for the video game Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. Bizarre debuted #7 on the Billboard 100. U-God became the first member to have a solo album debut #1 on Billboard, unfortunately soon thereafter Priority Records went bankrupt and shut down. Still, the album managed to go Gold in sales.
Almost ten years later, in 2009 U-God released his rebirth album “Dopium” independently on FrankRadio/Baby Grande. Although just 9 songs, it was critically acclaimed receiving 4.5 out of 5 stars by I-tunes, the lead video single “WUTANG” currently has over 5 million views on YouTube. The Album featured guest appearances by Sheek Louch, Jim Jones, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, GZA, Killah Priest, Jackpot Scotty Wotty and production by Bloody Beat Roots, Felix Cartel and Large Professor.
In 2013, as Wu-Tang Clan celebrates their 20th Anniversary; U-GOD finally stakes claim creating a masterpiece for WU Fans! Keynote Speaker takes him center stage with 15 of the most lyrical and gritty Wu-Tang sounding songs in recent memory! Released on RZA’s Soul Temple Records thru Sony/Red on July 23rd, 2013 the album featured the singles “Heads Up” w/ GZA & longtime partner in rhyme Jackpot Scotty Wotty, the head-nodder “Fame” W/ Styles P and captivating storyline solo “Skyscraper”. Indeed on this full length, U-God refuses the title “the 4 Bar killer” as he delivers verse after verse of impeccable lyrics for Wu Fans worldwide. Also making appearances on the record are Method Man, Inspektah Deck, Kool Keith & Elzhi from Slum Village with RZA AKA Bobby Digital on production, Keynote Speaker debuted in top 50 on Billboard.
Fast forward to 2017 U-God has put the finishing touches on what might be considered his most poisonous darts to date on the dark but poignant album entitled VENOM. Lookout for the album to hit the streets in the March 30th on Babygrande Records. In addition, U-God will tell his story about rising to fame with the Iconic rap group in his memoir, RAW: My Journey Into the Wu-Tang. The book captures everything from his childhood through his rise as a founding member of the legendary nine-member New York hip-hop crew WU-TANG CLAN. Due out in March 6th, 2018.