Raekwon is Hip-Hop. His rites-of-passage, both right and wrong, have been displayed on the global stage. As part of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, his waxed words have created history. This determined MC has also earned critical acclaim as an revered solo artist. The motivation behind both his creative and his financial actions is to secure an enduring legacy. Time will champion his continued efforts.
In this exclusive interview Raekwon speaks candidly about the Wu-Tang Clan, his upcoming album, and why it’s always bigger than money.
AllHipHop.com: Wu-Affiliate, Killa Sin, was charged with attempted murder. With you being hailed as Raekwon The Chef, what’s your perspective on an MC’s lyrics being used to help convict him?
Raekwon: They’re gonna always try to bring that up in any case, ‘cause it’s going into who that person is. But it’s just a name, you know. I think dude—things happened for the wrong reason sometimes and you’ll be in a bad situation. It happens, sometimes life takes us in different directions though. But you can’t judge a person by the name, you know what I mean. Everybody got all kinds of names. Names are names; they do reflect, something I guess, part of being an artist, you look at it like that. A name is a name, but yeah, in certain places they will hold you accountable for that.
How do you create; do you go in with something already in mind? Do you go through a bed-of-beats and that triggers your creativity; does it happen differently at different times?
For me, I go to the studio and I come in with an open mind. I’ll listen to a couple of things. Something will call me and say, ‘Yo, this fits; this is where you need to be at.’ I just go in there with an open mind, you know what I mean. Sometimes I’m forced to do things that I may not have wanted to try before, now I’ve tried; just to see, because it helps me, you know, fix my sh*t up a little bit more. I listen to a lot of rappers. Everybody has a typical flow.
Me, I like to try all kinds of flows and just make people be intricate about what I’m saying. You know, a lot of people are like, ‘Yo, he talks so fast. He all over the place; his sh*t don’t make sense.’ I guess when you really understand who I am—you know that I’m different. [chuckles] You know, you just got to learn the words though. When I first heard Rakim—I couldn’t—he was moving so quick. It was so swift and sharp. I was like, ‘Damn, this is going to take me a minute.’ But I respected it, because he said a lot of ill sh*t.
As a writer, that’s one thing that I love. When I can listen to a track multiple times and still discover things that are poignant about it—where I have to rewind it and be like, ‘What!’
Exactly, exactly! That’s important to me; I love lyricism. You know, we do it naturally. It ain’t like we just sit down and try to think about the most illest things to say—it just comes out like that. You know, and it winds up being like that. But for me, I just give the track a helping hand.
Given that artists creatively progress at different levels, how has the WU been able to sustain a cohesive union that compels it’s members to create new WU material?
We put ourselves in a room sometimes and we get a perspective from nine different people. And it’s tough; sometimes the beats may not feel good to half of us. Then it may feel good to all of us except two people. So, you’re dealing with a lot of minds and memories of what we know what we like. We just sit in there and we come together. We use our minds and say, ‘Yo, which one makes sense?’ If it don’t feel good I can’t get on it. I won’t get on it. Sometimes I’ve tried things, because I’ve seen what I’ve seen in it. But, if it don’t stick you got to keep going back at it.
What’s necessary for you to invest 100% of your effort into a reunion project?
What it’s going to take? Doing things accordingly like a businessman would normally do. You know, everybody should be happy everybody should be in harmony. And nobody should have to look over their shoulder and feel like they smell a rat.You know what I mean, or whatever.
We’re at that age where we deal with each other accordingly. You tell me what it is. I’ll tell you what it is. But we sit here for the main course to make sure that we come together and make something great together. It’s bigger than the money. On top of the money it’s the hard-work and dedication that we all got to put in as a team. It can’t be no other way but that. You know, it got to be everybody moving as one. The chain gotta be moving like this—a broken chain leads to broken dreams.
Is the Wu broken right now?
Nah, it ain’t broken; everybody is just zoned out. Everybody is in they zone doing what we said we was going to do from the jump, when we came in. We eventually go our ways and do what we do and come back when it’s time, you know, and that’s what it is. Everybody is doing something in their career in a great way to try to keep it going. That’s what it’s all about. We came in as a team. And people respected that.
And people seen us—you know—you’re not going to get that kind of group ever again that’s nine members that can go Gold and Platinum. We’ve been there; we did it. We still got more things that we want to do. Of course for me, I still want to create more. I’m sure that they feel the same way. They want to do more sh*t, too. So, that’s what we’re doing right now. When we come together everything must be pure. It must be the right fertilizer on top to make sh*t grow the way it’s supposed to.
I respect that. Has the new Wu-Tang album been started?
To my knowledge, yeah. Some things was created, you know, but I’m still waiting to get more knowledge of what’s going on…Rza, he know where I’m at.
So, you’re waiting on him to reach out as opposed to reaching out to him?
We’re going to reach out to each other when we feel it’s that serious. But, you know, he’s controlling that ship right now. I’m just waiting for him to be like, ‘Yo, I’m ready to comply with what you want to do.’ You know, we got to make sh*t fair business.
Would you participate in any planned reunion shows?
All the time. I feel like when it comes to performing, you know, things of that nature it’s something that me and my brothers is always gonna do. When it comes to things pertaining to career decisions—and album-making music type sh*t and publishing and things of that nature—it’s like I have to prepare for my kids. So, that got to be straight. Everything else can be negotiated. When we’re looking at stuff that will last 30 years or 40 years ; I want to make sure that’s secured, you know. We’re doing grown-man stuff; so, at the end of the day it should be dealt with like that. It ain’t about us no more, it’s about making sure we’re putting away for them.
Last year, and Instagram photo of you and Jay Z captivated the masses. Will there be an official collab on Fly International Luxurious Art?
We’re going to get it when we get it. It’s going to be some things up there.
Sir! You don’t have a release date; do we have to wait on it?
One thing about release dates is, you never know. Things change because we’re dealing with clearances, we’re dealing with samples—whatever it takes—so we just try to give you a little point to where it might come out at. We was thinking early April, but then we pushed to May. My thing is that it has to be right. It’s going to come out; but I want it to come out in the greatest way and everything feels good. I don’t want to rush it. I never like to rush product though. Right now, it’s late April or early May.
Until, the next time what would you like to share?
I would definitely tell them to get ready for this album, Fly International Luxurious Art. It’s another banger, you know. Just get ready for it. If you like albums—then I’m going to make this special. I’m going to give you something that you can listen to and say, ‘Yo, I don’t have to touch the CD!’ Just let that sh*t play out. I’m going to keep doing it again and again and again. Shout out to all the people that’s out there that’s really making Hip-Hop. Just know that there are artists out there who are concerned with your thoughts and where Hip-Hop is going. Love is love.