When Only Built 4 Cuban Linx came out in 1995, he launched a genre within rap, using coded language to describe cocaine sales. Armed with a concept, dope beats and a charismatic partner-in-crime, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon the Chef carved out a spot in Hip-Hop history for himself. Not only was the music hot, but so was the product itself: a purple cassette.
Since then, Rae has gone through ups and downs in his solo efforts, but fans know hes never lost the rhyme. So when word came out last year that he was coming full circle with a return to the essence, the rap world has been waiting and waiting.
Its been months since the buzz peaked over the upcoming Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2. Heads wanted to know if the Chef could do it again, and better yet, if he should do it.
Rae silenced all the whispers in past interviews with a firm wait and see attitude and held thirsty fans at bay with the release of his Vatican mixtapes. With the Cuban Linx 2 release date still up in the air, Wu's Chef dishes about having a classic, Hip-Hops state of affairs, and how no one in the game has come close to the level of the Wu.
AllHipHop.com: How does it feel to know that you have one of the most classic albums ever in Only Built 4 Cuban Linx?
Raekwon: Well number one, it feels good. It feels good to know that I achieved a mark that I always felt I could. But for the most part, I tend to stay humble and respect that and not be overwhelmed with the love. It just makes me stronger as an artist because I know that people watch what I put out. So its kind of a double-edged sword where its a good thing and a bad thing only because the bad thing about it is that you have to stay on that level as being one of the best, because if you dont, then whyd you make that? It keeps me on my toes.
Its like how we love gangster flicks and we feel like DeNiro need to make one more. Just give us one more, Al Pacinoand they f**k around and give us one more, in their own little way. I guess when it comes down to some of your favorites, you want that. You want them to take you there.
AllHipHop.com: Does it make you sad, for lack of a better wordcause theres no message in music anymore
Raekwon: Its f**ked up. Its there, but its being dealt with on a very wack level because people are so much into now seeing people kill each other off and dramatizing. Who dont like a fight? Thats just the where the face of Hip-Hop went and dont get me wrongyou got generations upon generations coming into the business every year. It seems like the kids are getting younger and younger and learning it now. Now you got young kids knowing how to rhyme and put words together because theyre being guided by what were talking about. So overall, its just about balance. Everything in life has to have a balance. When you giving somebody something like this, you gotta be able to be versatile and give them that. But if the people aint corresponding or the disc jockeys just dont feel like playing that, that dont necessarily mean to shoot it in the head or shoot it down or look down on somebody like their album aint the truth. You cant say that because its just about sprinkling all type of good s**t. And me being the Chef, thats my mission. I want to go down in history as a rapper that knew how to make the dance rap and the n***a that knew how to do the grimy s**t. Im a real MC and its like to me, thats what makes an MC. Because when he could go somewhere that you least expected him he could go. But now you got rap just being cosmetic now; like who talking the toughest, who got the most metaphors, who got the nice cute hook.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, its like you cant win in that kind of a situation.
Raekwon: All you can do is just be you. Thats all I try to do. I dont try to talk about something I havent witnessed or I havent experienced. When you get [to an] age like myself, it aint guaranteed you gonna make it out the hood at 25, so when you do, you start growing up as a man, your pants start coming up more, you start wearing a beltand thats all a part of growing. So I just feel like that needs to be more exercised and its so important for us to know the right people we putting in these positions to talk about certain dudes. Certain dudes, you gotta really break it down for people. Like sometimes, I might have read an article and it says, His lyrics were sharp, he still got it but RZA could have been on the track. Its like, Yo, hold up; you dealing with your own personal feelings, you not dealing with the fact that it sounds good. If its good is good. Its so sad cause a lot people really listen to certain motherf**kas that they think is really the ref like that.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think fans dont allow artists to grow?
Raekwon: Yeah, because fans are fickle. Theyll be with you one minute then turn on youthats part of the business. But I think sometimes as far myself, people werent ready for me to grow up yet and still stay with that certain hunger and thats all they wanted. When we came in, Hip-Hop was fun too. So to not be able to get that same thing they had then and then it not being fun no more, now its time to start basing your judgment on something that really, you being stubborn with it.
By my name being chefMeth told n***as on the first albumRae is the n***a thats gonna cook up that marvelous s**t, period. He aint never say Rae is the dude thats gonna stay here; he gonna cook up all type of s**t cause thats what a chef does. A chef gotta have a kitchen with all kinds of ingredients and I know that Im one of the dudes in the Wu that stand out like that. And thats only because Im around all types of individuals. Yall gotta remember the personalities of Wu-Tang. They blemish off each other. RZAs gonna come how RZAs gonna come. Rae cant never come how RZA come, but Rae could use a little bit of RZAs slang or RZA could use a little bit of Raes slang, or use GZAs and GZA uses Decks and Deck uses Ghosts. We told yall ahead of time all this s**t, but now its a new time, people dont understand why we all doing solo s**t. We said that!
So I think just the challenge alone of having a classic gives me the opportunity to go make one more. To me, all my albums are classicbut like you said, to step on what you already stepped on, it is a challenge and its a whatever. Its like both sides, but Im equipped for it. I feel like me in the game anyway, I havent given what I felt I was ready to give yall all yet. Because I been so much of a team player and thats why theres gaps in my career where you havent heard me because I had to give the other brother the opportunity to be heard. We wasnt thinking back then  to have nine albums all out bumpin. We didnt want to hurt each others feelings with sales; cause all that s**t just bring about egos. But in a way that was good and bad. Its two shots because its like, its your time and then people could be wanting you and then next thing you know, by you being so far away, now they aint ready to grow with you.
AllHipHop.com: You can see this in the writing
Raekwon: God bless the dead, [Old] Dirty [Bastard] used to have a dictionary. And he didnt have no problems at any time pulling it out if he felt like it, but this is way after his career of him being who he is, but act like if after a while a n***a dont come at him with a dictionary, that he not holding on to it. And we used to laugh about it and be like, Yo, you crazy n***a, you cheatin, and hed be like [on point impersonation of ODB] F**k you, n***a, n***a Im still ill, n***aI just need a wordI ran out of words! To me, even back like 15 years ago, RZA been had rhymes. He been a lyricist, but he had the passion to make music. So its like when yall hear him comeand even on this album right here, RZA didnt really go all the way in cause he felt like he didnt want to take away from the Cuban Linx s**t. But at the same time, he did go in on it. You may hear a rhyme and youll be like, Yo, thats the RZA. Somebody may be like, Where Bobby Digital at?but thats the RZA right there though.
Thats another thingwe have personalities. Like I may be Raekwon right now, but I might flash over to Lex Diamond and you wont even know. Thats how we move. We are swift and changeable. When you break the initials of Wu-Tang, its plain and simple who we are: the Witty, Unpredictable, Talented, And Natural Game. And we got natural game. Its so natural, it aint even game anymore, its just us. We could start a fire with a f**king thought, if we want to.
Im gonna be honest with you: I aint seen nobody come in the game yet on the level that we came in. Thats why its so much of a highly anticipated thing about us coming backcause you cant get that. Now you got motherf**kers assembling crews like that to try to be that [Wu-Tang], but nobody could ever be that. And Im not saying thats anybodys plan; you dont know, it might be or it might not. But Im just saying to have that solar system of dudes doing that we didnt even know that we were doing that when we did it. We didnt know we were going to be a nine-man clique until we realized, Damn, it is a lot of us on that s**t. And it was what it was, so it was like f**k thatthats how we comin. The names: Yo, my name Lex Diamond, Yeah? My name Tony Starks aka IronMan, Im the Rzathe resurrector, Im the GeniusIm the GZA, Masta Killa his name was Noodlesyou know certain names is for certain respects. MaximilonGZA. Maximilion was one of the top gangstas in one of these movies we was looking at, and he was the brains. And we always look at GZA and RZA as being our forefathers in our crew because they got the most experience.
AllHipHop.com: Right, cause they had their solo albums
Raekwon: Yeah, they did it before us. So if you cant pay the respect to those who did it before you, then you aint really giving it up right. Them dudes put a lot of influence on dudes too.
AllHipHop.com: On Enter the 36 Chambers, one of the interludes, when Method Man was breaking down every member, he said, We form like Voltron, and GZAs the head.
Raekwon: Exactly. And he didnt know he was gonna say that; he dont glorify that. But to us, thats how we look at it. Its so crazy when I think about how Meth described everybody that dayhe described all of us to the fullest.