Raekwon: Bringin It Back - 2006-03-06 09:11:17

© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2006-03-06

As the hip-hop game and new artists try to conform and jump on the next hottest trend to stay on top, other artists are reaching into their bag of tricks and bringing it back. Raekwon is one of those artists that are bringing it back. Hes not only bringing it back to the streets, but he is bringing it back to that vintage Wu-Tang era we all are familiar with. The era where nine emcees from Shaolin struggled against all odds to become some of the major players in the game.

Releasing two albums after his classic debut, Built 4 Cuban Linx, Raekwon "The Chef" is taking two steps back and prepping the release of the follow-up, Built 4 Cuban Linx II.

During a phone call with BallerStatus, Raekwon spoke on his reasoning to release a Part II of his debut, why Busta is leading the way, and why he feels this is what hip-hop needs. Surprisingly, while Rae was on the phone, Rza eagerly waited in the background for his chance to jump on the phone and let us know why Raes new album will be the high point of 2006.

According to the Wu pair, the Wu is back!

Raekwon: Bringin It Back
Monday - March 6, 2006

BallerStatus.net: Whats going on with the album?

Raekwon: The new album is called Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II and its going down. This is the album thats been anticipated for the last six years or so for my career, and its definitely time for this right now. Its for me to put back that hat that I had on my head that I was wearing at that time, and just tear sh-- up right now. We looking at a late April, maybe an early May release now.

BallerStatus.net: You put out Immobilarity and Lex Diamond Story after your first album. What made you want to go back to the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx mindset?

Raekwon: Only because I know the streets is calling for it and they calling for it to the point where now I have to respond to that. I guess they loved the energy, the swagger, and the character that I was portraying. Even though I portray a notorious criminal character, which is always what I portray, but at the same time, I am "The Chef" and I dont know how to just make one dish. I can cook up several dishes and thats what Im doing right now. Im hitting dudes from all sorts of angles.

BallerStatus.net: Reports out there say that Busta Rhymes is co-executive producing this album. Can you speak on that?

Raekwon: Oh yeah, definitely. Busta is executive producing this project and hes involved with this project for many reasons. First off, his stamina in this game is incredible and hes always been a real friend to me for a long time and kept it true with me from the get. Like right now, hes like Joe Torres to me right now. Hes telling me how to hit the ball and where to go. And at the end of the day, I respect his ear like crazy. I couldnt feel anymore comfortable than working with the Rza. Hes a real energy booster right now for me and I couldnt have invited another brother that could bring some of the sh-- that Busta provides to the project.

(Someone in the background keeps asking Raekwon and people in the room who Rae is on the phone with. Rae stops and responds to him...)

BallerStatus.net: Yeah, I get you cause we actually interviewed Busta a couple of weeks ago and he said that it all came about because he used to harass you all day like, "You need to come back with the classic sh-- again." Is that a reason as well...that hes involved with the project because he pushed for it to go down so hard?

Raekwon: I mean yes and no. When me and Busta first talked, I told him some of the projects I was doing and Only Built 4 Cuban Link II was in the plans. He was telling me to run with this project sooner than later, so anyways later on, I got home and called him and I was telling him hes right. I knew in my heart that he was right that this is what the people do need right now and this is what the streets really need right now. So, when I told him that, he (Busta Rhymes) offered any and every form of support I needed with the project regarding any aspect. So, I was like "Yo, thats real right there" cause you know most people dont reach out like that. You know Ive known Busta for more than 10 years already and we actually met in Germany, so weve seen each other in different spots. And everywhere were at, the n---- has given me positive energy and I knew he was a real n---- from day one.

BallerStatus.net: Well Busta is signed to Aftermath and hes been working with Dre heavy right now. Is Dr Dre involved with your project at all?

Raekwon: I dont want to give away too much. Dr Dre is family and hes cool and him and that whole camp is definitely fam right now with me. Just know that its real right now {laughs} you feel me? Everything youve pretty much heard, theres probably some truth to that aside from some little rumors out there that cats dont know what they talking about. Everything is real on that level that you saying it on though but I have to protect myself for things that might no happen also.

BallerStatus.net: Cool, so Im hearing about a Wu-Tang reunion tour. Are you going to be involved with that?

Raekwon: Absolutely, it wouldnt be a Wu-Tang reunion if Raekwon wasnt involved homey [laughs]. Come on, we all know that.

BallerStatus.net: We whats going on with the tour?

Raekwon: Well, you know everybody is supposed to be there and everybody has committed themselves to showing up because its essential.

BallerStatus.net: How about a Wu album, are you guys planning on working on one?

Raekwon: Like I said, I cant give away too much, but soon enough youll hear about whats good.

(Raekwon cuts me off and says "Hold on, I got a surprise for you somebody wants to holla at you." He passes the phone to the Rza)

Rza: Whats popping son. Im trying to get in this sh-- right here. Whats going on?

BallerStatus.net: We were just talking about the reunion tour right now, tell us about that.

Rza: No comment n----! Next question [laughs].

BallerStatus.net: Aight, so whats going on right now? What are you currently working on?

Rza: Come on son, you know what we doing here man -- Cuban Linx Part II. Thats where its at right now. Everything else Im working on is secondary right now.

BallerStatus.net: Oh ok, so youre involved right?

Rza: Of course yo, and you can quote that. Thats where were at right now and thats the main focus for me right now to be honest.

BallerStatus.net: When can we hear another Rza solo?

Rza: Im not even thinking about it right now to be real. Theres no reason to rhyme on n----s when my dude Raekwon is doing what hes doing right now. His pen game is on fire right now and thats beautiful. Im just sitting back and enjoying it.

BallerStatus.net: Thats good cause the game needs that classic sh-- back like what you cats brought back in the Wu era.

Rza: You know son, I feel the same way yo. Thats why I came out the temple and came back to the real world, so we can give the game the sh-- it needs and cats can study it and do what they do to help this hip-hop sh-- out. We gonna bring this sh-- back full circle believe me. We far from done.

BallerStatus.net: Is this the year of the Wu?

Rza: I mean, its definitely the year of Cuban Linx II, thats for sure. Im saying Cuban Linx was one of the albums that helped define the Wu character within itself. Its a great album and when people hear this sh--, people are going to feel a lot better about our music. I promise that. This right here is going to be some sh--.

BallerStatus.net: Well when I hear Part I, I get a certain type of vibe and energy when I listen to it. Are you guys taking it back to that vibe or are you creating a whole different vibe and energy for this one, because its a whole different struggle now?

Rza: Its a continuation though. Its definitely a different struggle, but its still a continuation. Its like this: if you living in the mountains, your lyrics are going to relate to sh-- up on the mountains. If you in the streets in New York and trying to get your bread and hustling, thats what your music and lyrics are going to relate to. Thats why a lot of rappers first album...these cats sound like theyre going through it and dealing with mad sh--. And the second album, they talking about their cars and sh--. Its like when n----s get a check, they think they got that respect, ya know? For us, its like this: we came from the bottom of the mountain and climbed to the top, ya know? We seen it all and we been through it all. N----s done seen hills and n----s done seen bills. One thing you cats cant forget yo, your bills dont stop homey. Mortgage is 30 years for most people, so just cause you seeing a little bit of money your first five years, dont sleep homey.

BallerStatus.net: Last question for you Rza. Is this album Rae is dropping the beginning of a new chapter?

Rza: Well, let the people decide that dog. I been in this game too long to call it. All I can say is that I havent felt this good about music in a long time -- well as far as hip-hop sh-- goes cause Ive been doing the movie sh-- for a minute lately. Im saying though Im real focused with this sh-- right now and Im real excited to see what cats are gonna say when they hear this album right here. When people hear some of these beats I got, they going to be like, "Damn, Rza dug through the bottom of the crate for this one." I dont know what got me in this mode, but it might definitely be the times like you said. You said we need this right now and maybe its that, but Im focused. Let me let Rae get back and do his thing cause this is a lot to type up homey.

Raekwon: Thats a treat right there look at that. You cant even beat that with a bat my dude.

BallerStatus.net: Thats crazy dog. I didnt have no questions for him, but thats real right there. Let me get back to this question I was gonna ask you before. When you created that first LP, what was it that inspired that vibe? Was it the hunger, drive, or the competition around at that time?

Raekwon: I had something to prove, thats what inspired me. My sh-- was different from somebody elses sh--, which 9 times out of 10, we always do. People dont realize this right here. Dont judge an album by the single, judge the album by the entire album. See, a lot of cats these days jump off with a little single and sh-- and you bump the rest of there album and it sounds like trash. Of course when we came in, we had that hunger and to be honest thats how I feel now fam.

BallerStatus.net: Let me ask you, these days a lot of crews are assembled. You guys were nine deep and you all knew each other and came into the game together. I mean nine guys who can all hold there own is pretty incredible and looking back more than 10 years later...10 years from now, this is probably not going to be done like how you guys put it down. Do you ever think back and say to yourself "Well, this was amazing and I cant believe we did that."

Raekwon: All the time brother and Im being honest when I say that. I think about that every other day and you catch some of these success stories of how these people got to where they are at, and I say to myself "Damn, thats crazy." Our story ranks up there with all that cause you got nine dudes from the slums and we was backed up against all odds and we took this thing that at the time was fun for us -- and we werent crazy business minded about it until the paper came in. Most cats in the game wasnt get paid like that when we was around. At that time, the cats getting crazy paid were the label owners and they was raping cats. We still strived and we did what the hood loved and added other forms of culture in our music and we made history.

BallerStatus.net: What do you think of the New York scene right now?

Raekwon: Theres just a lot of tension around right now. Everybody still want to be the king of New York and fighting for that bullsh--, but its really about whos closest to the streets. I mean New York artists, we always been about that lyrical competition and the South cats are lyrical in there own way. With us, everybody is just looking over there shoulder or watching what these cats getting money is doing rather than worry about what they need to do. For some reason cats turned into wanting to know about everything else cats is doing than worrying about themselves. If you worry about the next man, then you gonna take focus of what you need to do for yourself.

BallerStatus.net: Well, when you first came out, it was about being lyrical. These days its not commercially accepted.

Raekwon: You know why though? People gave up on the arts style and worried more about what the art portrayed. My art portrayed a lifestyle that was unforgivable. Everybody wanted to always say they came up in the same fashions and they doing it with there jewelry and whatever. I mean, we wrote many lines and lines with all that, but it was more than that and these cats just got caught up with whos making the most money, the glitter and the cars. In a way, that took away from the art cause it made people want to stop hearing innovative artists.

Think about when hip-hop was rolling like in 86 - 88, back when I was fan and you had Rakim, [Big Daddy] Kane, and Slick Rick. I mean dudes had their style and talked about the lifestyle, but they was artists and they were creative in there own way. These days, its not about that and when people compare, this is what they trying to say. The kids today just glorify it more, and back in the day, we were creative with it. Now weve been glorifying the same sh-- for 20 years, so whats next? You got new styles every year though and that keeps that ball rolling, you feel me? This is where its at right now and its gonna be like that until cats start getting creative or letting these creative brothers shine.

BallerStatus.net: Most cats got a lot of talent though. Do you think the problem is that they are trying to fit in with a different sound to get in the game and be accepted?

Raekwon: Hell yeah, Id say thats the problem with 80% of these cats, only because they feel thats a system you have to follow to be accepted. That dont really represent hip-hop if thats what its about though. Me, myself, I even had myself at one point trying to condition my frame of mind and thoughts into that. The fans though will always try and pull you to different things though. Itll change when people see whats going on and cats get a true respect for what this is about and also appreciate what they have a lot more.

BallerStatus.net: You just said you caught yourself trying to conform to that as well, so you can be accepted. Is that a reason why you are trying to bring it back?

Raekwon: I aint trying homey. Im bringing it back. We gonna bring back to streets.

BallerStatus.net: Any shoutouts Rae?

Raekwon: Yeah man, a shout out to the world and I want to shoutout all those people out there still supporting real rap music. I promise this: Only Built Part II, sh-- is going to refresh a lot of the bullsh-- right now. Its real right now and Im doing this for the people. Holla!

Many thanks to BallerStatus for this dope interview!

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