Raekwon Rebuilding 'Cuban Linx' With Wu Mates
By Jeff Vrabel, Jacksonville, Fla.
To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of his critically lauded breakthrough solo debut, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx," Wu-Tang Clan founding member Raekwon is recording a sequel to the project, with an eye on a January release.
"We're the gods who made that classic," Raekwon told Billboard.com by phone from New York, where work is underway on the record. "We're coming with the same formula to create another classic."
The project is "all-new saga," according to Raekwon, and is currently going under the title "Cuban Linx Part II." It will be preceded by two singles: one solo track and one featuring an unannounced guest lineup from the Clan.
"I don't want to give you all the goods right now," Raekwon laughed. He's similarly tight-lipped about who'll appear on the album, though he revealed that Busta Rhymes, frequent co-star Ghostface Killah (whose own profile enjoyed a boost after his appearances on the original "Linx") and Wu impresario the RZA are heavily involved.
"RZA's in with the project all the way, but I wanna give a couple of other artists an opportunity to be featured as well," Raekwon said. Dr. Dre is also rumored to have already contributed two tracks.
Since the original "Cuban Linx," Raekwon has remained a steady presence on the scene via such albums as 1999's "Immobilarity" and 2003's "The Lex Diamond Story." But "Cuban Linx," he said, is a re-investigation of his acclaimed, image-heavy rhyme roots.
"We could never reinvent the same potion," he said, "but my whole thing is the storyline, the characters that play inside this film. I call it a film because I'm used to writing portraits. I'm not just a dude that writes a bunch of rhymes that have no demeanor to them."
Raekwon concedes that the pressure is on this time out, as he and Ghostface's last records, "Lex Diamond" and "The Pretty Toney Album," respectively, were critical successes. But he says his 10-plus years in the game have made him used to the situation.
"I guess that's part of our strategy," he said. "All eyes is looking, and we gotta get out there and shoot the right ducks down."
As for the immediate future of the Wu-Tang Clan in the wake of the death of Ol' Dirty Bastard, Raekwon remained characteristically evasive. "I can't comment on that right now," he said, "but I'll tell you one thing: There's is something cooking up in the kitchen. Wu-Tang is still forever. Prepare yourself."