Raekwon and CNN rocked the stage during their North Carolina leg of the "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2" tour, and AllHipHop was right there to get his Top 5 Dead or Alive. But, there is more. While paying homage to the artist on his Top 5 Dead or Alive, Rae also gave me an update on his project with Kool G Rap and his anticipated three-way collaboration with fellow Wu-Tang brothers - Method Man and Ghostface Killah.
Raekwon: One thing about me and my top five, it may be n*ggas that ain't even relevant like that... at the level of today's Hip-Hip. that will really hurt a lot of peoples feelings, but that's how I feel. I take real emcees serious, so I will definitely say, one is Rakim. Rakim is our Marvin Gaye of Hip-Hop.
Then you have Slick Rick. Just their albums that came out almost 20 years ago is still busting a lot of n*ggas a** today lyrically. I wouldn't even consider myself in the "Top Five" yet. I haven't put in any work yet. Them two... I like [Notorious] B.I.G. Definitely one that definitely had a lot of talent, he had that good voice.
Big Daddy Kane was crazy back then. His shit was on fire. He has come with all different types of styles and flows. 'Cause see that's what I look at too. I don't look at a n***a just being able to rhyme and talk tough all day. I'm talking about literature on wax. Shit that will be like "what he say?" Spitting that sh*t right back. I look at all that. One thing to me about being a real emcee is that you have to fit that role as being one of those n***as. All n***as are made to have their own style and charisma. B.I.G. had his own style, his own charisma. He was able to do R&B s**t, kill it and still come back to do the real s**t.
Always presenting his lyrics, always knowing how to write stories and dip in different things. So I look at all that. Rakim, Slick, B.I.G., Kane...
I got one for more... KRS-One. Lyrically, l said those names right there. That's why I picked them.
AllHipHop.com: You named these artist as your "Top 5," why do you say they won't be relevant?
Raekwon: Because they had their time. Everybody had their time to shine. It's not like they can't come back and bust n*ggas ass again, it's just all about the production. I'm just saying it in like a good way. Anybody might say Michael Jordan is one of the best basketball players, but you have these young n*ggas like Lebron doing their thing. Dwyane Wade and all these dudes, but you always have to mention Jordan. So that's my thing on how I really feel about real Hip-Hop. When i think of Rakim, he made me want to rhyme. He made me want to get knowledge of self. He made he want to challenge myself lyrically on wax. He helped me gain that energy, gain that swagger- that's the new word today. I call it style but ya'll call it swagger. So, he taught n*ggas how to get fresh. Flat tops, good four finger rings,all that. Style is important. Slick Rick dressing up. Slick flowing and really knowing how to rhyme. Sh*t just be coming out bouncing, bouncing over everything. So all these type of things I look at.
That's why I'm able to do the type of songs that I do. I test myself because I want to be put in that category one day. I like anything after 25 years in the business, then start calling me a real legend. But right now, I still have a lot of work to do. I only have four albums in right now. When you think of all these old soul singers, they have multiple albums. The O'Jays, The Isley Brothers, all these n*ggas have more than four f*cking albums bee. So when you start seeing somebody at that level, they have to have a long track record of music. I want to do 50 albums. So when I get to that level, maybe I'll start calling myself one of the "top dead or alive."
AllHipHop.com: In a recent interview with AllHipHop.com, you revealed that you will be doing a project with Kool G. Rap.
Raekwon: Me and G Rap was definitely talking about something. I think that will be something crazy because that's me doing it with one of my mentors. I don't even know why I didn't pick him [for the top five dead or alive], but he's definitely in that category as well. How I'm looking at it is like I get to do sh*t with some of my favorites. Remember when Michael Jackson first got the opportunity to see James Brown on stage? He waved the flag and they put the cape on him? That's how I look at my greats too. So for us to do that, I'm looking forward to doing something like that. If me and G talked about it, then hey... it may happen sooner then you think. But whatever we do, it's gonna be something ill. We're going to make sure of that. When I think about me being in the street selling crack all my life and listening to Kool G. Rap "In the streets of New York, dope fiend's leaning for morphine," it was like he was talking to me. It was like he was talking to me personally and talking to the world from our perspective and where we was at. So for me to get back in the studio with him, I want to go right back there. I want to do it on that level. We have to understand that our brothers who paved the way for us, we can never forget them. That's not in my nature to forget them because I don't care if they're not on the radio today. He still got it, he still can rhyme. So in my heart, we're always going to have a door open for them because they helped me get here today. So when that project does happen, you're going to know about us. It's going to be a real ill project because he's still paving the way and he was paving back then. His pen is still sharp. You'll see what it is.
Raekwon: Right now, you know we're working on the Meth, Rae and Ghost album. There's some shit that you all will be able to listen to soon. We're just going to keep the it kind of tight right now. It's suppose to come out during the February month. It's all about creating. When it's time, you'll know about it. Word up.