MAKING IT HAPPEN IN STATEN, RAEKWON IS GOIN’ HARD PROMOTING ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX… PT. II, THE MOST ANTICIPATED HIP-HOP RECORD IN YEARS AND RECENTLY BEING NUMBERED THE TENTH GREATEST EMCEE EVER BY THE MTV NEWS’ HIP-HOP BRAIN TRUST BECOMES JUST DESSERTS FOR THE COCKSURE CHEF, BORN COREY WOODS. WITH THE MYTHICAL WU-TANG CLAN ABOUT TO DESCEND ON AUSTRALIA FOR THE FIRST TIME, PIVOTAL MEMBER RAEKWON TALKS RIP NICHOLSON THROUGH THE SEQUEL TO HIS SEMINAL SOLO DEBUT.
RAEKWON interviewed @ 08.30 AEST – Saturday 19th September, 2009
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press
[Full Q & A below]
I’ve always been top ten through my whole career, yana’imean?” Woods says in a thick and chewy New York drawl. “I’m very cocky when it comes to that because I know what I have done for the game. But it feels good that the industry is respectin’ my relevance again” boasts the Chef. “I’m always gonna feel like I’m number one.”
The anticipated sequel to his 1995 classic is already scoring widespread praise, Spin magazine gushing that it “contains some of his most rewind-worthy bars in years.” OBFCL II continues down the same path right from which the first masterpiece faded out 14 years prior.
“The plan was definitely to go back down memory lane and give y’all what you’ve been waitin’ for. For no other reason than what hip-hop’s been missing – that classic Raekwon song,” he declares, comparing it with 1995’s first installment.
“When you listen to ‘Flying Daggers’ it reminds you of ‘Triumph’ or ‘Cold Outside’ reminds you of ‘Rainy Days.’ Where we began this album we ended with the last one. It was kinda like a double-CD that I wanted to make off this album.”
After a creative cluster-fuck on 8 Diagrams, Ghostface and Raekwon disagreed with The RZA’s off-tangent production of the album, stating it did not fly the signature “Wu-Tang sound.” Raekwon recouped that Wu interest on OBFCL II, calling in the fam to re-create that 36 Chambers-style sound responsible for teaching hiphop a new fighting stance. “We was definitely making sure that this album was carved out in a certain way that cats can come in and be comfortable with. This album has to be criticized by not only myself but the whole clan.”
OBFCL II has the Chef cooking with a production credit reading more like an honour roll of the finest, with beats from Busta Rhymes, Dr. Dre, Marley Marl, Pete Rock, The Alchemist and the late J Dilla and of course RZA.
“Production is so important to me and it’s always been my job when I make my music, to be influenced by some of the illest sounds and production alive. ” Woods explains. “It was an honour to get involved with them. They believed in the first album so much that they kinda knew where I wanted to go and where I needed to be at with this one. So everyone just made it their business to go hard.”
As for getting any further with relation to confirmation of a Wu-tour, Raekwon the purveyor of Shaolin renaissance laid it out as best he can.
“Yo from what I’m hearing, everything is a go!” he announces. “My thing is to never put too much super-commitment on anything because all I can do is be responsible for myself yakna’imean. It’s like being with a baseball team, you know you have to come to a game. I’ma be at the game. I’m sure that everybody else knows what it is, but anything can happen in between.”
[Full Q & A below]
Q & A with RAEKWON
Chef, what’s up man! You’re calling from New York, whereabouts?
Rip, what it do? Yes, right now I’m in New York, Staten Island right in the heart of it B! We’re running around doing a promo tour.
Did you know you had one of the most anticipated album of the year coming out?
Yeah I know that, I know a lot of people was waitin’ on this album right here. It’s definitely been requested for a few years now so, I kinda knew everyone was waitin’ on this one you know.
Spin mag said of this album, that it, “contains some of his most rewind-worthy bars in years.” Does this pick right up where the first album left us hanging?
That was definitely the point. The plan was definitely to go back down memory lane and give y’all what you’ve been waitin’ for. For no other reason than what hiphop’s been missing – that classic Raekwon song. So we made it our business to give it that effect so i’d say it definitely falls in that bracket. I was really matching up my best to put this album together. Where we began this album we ended with the last one, you know. It was kinda like a double-CD that I wanted to make off this album.
There’s nothing from the Lex Diamond Story that carries over?
I would say this album is much different to the Lex Diamond sound. Lex was more… rounded on some different kind of music. This one is like that more classic Wu-sound. We really wanted to get close to that on this one.
You’ve got the greatest producers ever cutting your beats, what’s it like pulling this kind of power to your product? Inspirational?
Oh absolutely, yana’imean. My thing always been, production is so important to me and it’s always been my job when I make my music I wanna be able to be influenced by some of the most illest sounds and production alive. Them guys definitely paved a way for a lot of artists. It was an honour to get involved with them. They was working hard because they believed in the first album so much that they kinda knew where I wanted to go and where I needed to be at with this one. So everyone just made it their business to go hard. That was definitely something that I can say was challenging. It was a big thing you know. I just gave it my best, I just gave it my best.
After 8 Diagrams failed to inspire, do you feel that Cuban Links II will really fly the flag of the real Wu-Tang hip hop?
When we made 8 Diagrams we had a lot of controversial things going on within the family in the direction. This album here is really up our alley because one thing we really know is we know our sound and what we sound good on. So this has allowed us to really take you back down memory lane. Especially when you listen to songs like ‘Flying Daggers’ reminds you of ‘Triumph’ or ‘Cold Outside’ reminds you of ‘Rainy Days’ So we was definitely making sure that this album was carved out in a certain way that cats can come in and be comfortable with, getting onto the mic and everyone felt good about getting on because it was their kinda flow. This album has to be criticized by not only myself but the whole clan so you know, everything that was came and brought to the table I had to make sure the guys love it and not just like it, so it’s cool.
‘Ason Jones’ I had to bang twice, once for Russell and again for Dilla. From one friend to another, that’s gotta hold a lot of sentiment to it for you? – And, thanks for that.
That’s what’s up, glad you appreciate that. I mean when I made that song like when I sit and listen to it, I catch chills on my body because I feel like he passed away so fast, so soon and when I think about what he’s really done for my career, the life of Wu Tang Clan. I had to make it my business to write about him in something the world was gonna respect. And I think a lot of times people ridiculed for him as being a negative person, surrounding himself with negative energy but he was a good brother and anyone that knew the way I knew him, this record definitely made it clear to everybody that I just had to pay my respect. It wasn’t more like it letter, it was more a saluting situation, you know. Like saluting heroes you know.
At the end of the day I had to really make it my business to go in there and rock with him, you know.
The MTV news hip hop brain trust puts you at number 10 of greatest emcees ever. How does that sit with you?
It’s cool, I respect they’re judgement. I always been top, always been top ten anyway through my whole career. I’m very cocky when it comes to that because I know what I have done for the game and I know how much influence I’ve put in the game. Can’t nobody really put a tag on me, yana’msayin. But it just feels good that the industry is respectin’ my relevance again, yana’imean. That’s what I’m more appreciative of the fact that, yo for someone to be in the game for a long time. Definitely it’s like, yo they appreciate that. And that’s what I appreciate. A far as them to put a number on me, I’m always gonna feel like I’m top, I’m number one. Whenever I feel like I can be number one, I’ma just keep doing it. I’m not saying on no cocky shit it’s all good though but, I’ve always been number one, I’m number one B for real!
You’re doing some serious promotions for this album, where your felt your last albums were not pushed enough for sales. You’re in the driver’s seat now?
Word. Everything is about managing to keep moving forward. Like, I’m a go-getta and I love hip hop and I love the fact that everybody wants to see it go back to the originality form as far as being real comfortable with it. We feelin’ like this shit been taken away from us and just ran. It’s like the Indians, where everybody came and took the land from them. So that’s how I feel about hiphop. I do this shit for the cause before I do it for the money. And I just really wanna keep that impact going and let everybody know man that you know, gotta have a passion for this before anything.
You might be the last Mahican.
No doubt and I’ma hold the torch up high. My thing at the end of the day is just that I want people to know that let’s not try to put a situation as far as hip hop being like something that has to be commercialised. Hip hop is about being original and coming with skills that make it. It’s not always about the commercial side. I just wanna make sure everybody know that.
Ghostface’s court case done. You’re at the top, where you should be. Wu-Tang and RZA, everything cool within Shaolin?
Of course, we a family that has a love-hate relationship but it’s a lot of respect. So you know there’s no problems. We’re men, we’re gonna argue on certain things but at the same time we still respect the fact of who we are. I’ve got mad love for my brothers.
I heard about yourself and Taarif trying to lift a reality show off with the Wu…
Something like that, I mean it was a thought and we wanted to try and do that but guys are really personal and was kinda hard to come to an agreement but I thought it would’a been interesting for people to go into a world of a nine man group. Especially dudes that have families and dudes that are more successful than others. It would be a lot of turmoil but it would be a lot of love at the same time too. But the guys ain’t really ready to take that big step yet.
We’ve just played host to Ghostface and GZA recently down under and everyone’s ears are pricked down here for a Wu-Tang tour. Can you give us the definite 411 on Wu-Tang’s steps in the coming months?
Yo from what I’m hearing, everything is a go! It’s gonna be exciting and I’m sure as you know it’s gonna be the first time the guys have really gone out there as a crew. Everybody’s excited, I’ve been getting the word that it’s cool. My thing is to never put too much super-commitment on anything because all I can do is be responsible for myself yana’mean. It’s like being with a baseball team, you know you have to come to a game. I’ma be at the game. I’m sure that everybody else knows what it is, it’s gonna be a hot show but anything can happen in between, you know. Guys have got kids Anything can go wrong, but from what I’m hearing, only one that might not be there is Method Man, and I think – don’t quote me on this but I think he has obligations for something else he has to do though, (Recent arrest for tax evasion – owes $33,000).
I’m sure more than likely everyone’s gonna be there so I guess it’s really gonna go down man. I’m excited it’s gonna be a good show. I wanna give a shout out to all my peoples out in Australia. I can’t wait to get out there and we’ll have a lovely show, I promise you that. That’s something you don’t have to worry about.