RESPECT. Interview: Raekwon Speaks on Lil Wayne, Longevity and Wu-Tang Reunion

RaekwonLast Friday, Raekwon released his seventh solo project The Wild. Amidst the furore of Drake’s More Life and Rick Ross dropping Rather You Than Me, it’s fair to say that the Wu-Tang member’s record has been holding its own.

With a career spanning thirty-something years, Raekwon is a rare find of man who’s talent keeps giving album after album, armed with a spitting ability that is standing the test of time. We caught up with the OG to discuss his new project, and what he has next in store.

RESPECT.: Congratulations on the release new album The Wild! How does it feel to have reached this stage and what do you feel like the reception has been so far?

It’s been an amazing reception I’ve been getting from people. It feels good to know that I’m not far away from success. That just makes me feel good to know that people really appreciate the hard work that I’ve been putting in. It’s a blessing to be respected and back in the building.

RESPECT.: Having made so many albums, when someone like you decides to make a new body of work, how do you approach the project to ensure that it stands out from your previous work?

First of all the first thing is to have a great production team that understands my dynamics when I get in the booth and I do my thing. I have to be motivated enough.  A lot of times I stress how important production is to me because production is like the wheels to the car. If I can’t make the car and have the proper wheels on it, it’s not gonna feel right. It’s gonna make the ride kinda bumpy. So when I get the opportunity to get the right wheels, it just makes my ride and helps me build the vehicle that’s gonna ride the way it needs to ride, and that’s how it is. That’s part of the influencing factor for me. So once I get the music that’s going to make sense, it drives me into a better situation.

RESPECT.: “My Corner” with Lil Wayne is essentially a hip-hop fan’s dream to see, with two OGs from different eras coming together. How did that come about?

Ah man when you think about the production on that beat. I got to give props and respect to the producer G Sparkz. That beat is almost a memory lane, ‘90s special beat. It’s a beat that we know that they had to rock the energy it. You know MCs stick their neck out and say I like how it sounds. So with that beat, he was kind of paying homage to that time when MCs really had to come to the table and really bring something in. I thought about Wayne. I felt like Wayne has the potential to be versatile and make records that could facilitate these kinds of projects. I thought that he would have been great to come in and join forces with me on that beat. Like I said, he did what he supposed to do. He put the sprinkles on it and we came up with something great. That’s what it was all about, it was just about giving something hard and test both of hands with production on that level.

RESPECT.: You pay tribute to Marvin Gaye on “Marvin.” The style of track is something we haven’t really seen you do. Why was this track important for you to make?

It was so important for me to make because, you know, Marvin was definitely one of my heroes coming up. With the heroes, a lot of the time we think of Michael Jackson, Prince, certain people. But I think a lot of time, a lot of the new generation don’t know about Marvin Gaye like that because they weren’t around when he was at his peak. I was listening to music at that time and he had great albums. He was definitely rebellious when it came to listening to what everybody may have wanted him to do. He did what he wanted to do because he felt like music was more than just a fad. It was lifestyle. It was about understanding what was going on in the world. Of course he did things in many people’s lives. He helped some of the greats that we honour today. I just wanted to kinda pay my respects and revisit his life and let people know how important that man was too – in not only music but black excellence too. If you don’t know about Marvim Gaye, something’s wrong with you.

Shout out to those boys who got involved. A new guy that’s an in-house producer of mine that we’re excited to the let the world know about. This is a guy that worked next to me. It just put him in a bracket with the best of the best. Now I’m glad to finally see my man Frank G get his shine.

RESPECT.: Which one song on this new album means the most to you and why?

It would definitely be a record like “Can’t You See” which is a brother to “C.R.E.A.M”. It’s a record that reflects back to when I was kid coming up and where I am today. It speaks on my old lifestyle. I never get caught in the chamber where I only like one record. I’m always a guy that pays attention to see the whole body of the album. So it’s never one record that makes everything right for me. Songs like “The Reign,” these are soulful records that make me reflect on my past that let me know I can’t forget that.

RESPECT.: We’re sure you treat your albums like your babies and you know it’s true that parents have their favorites! If you had to pick your top three what would they be?

Well Only Built 4 Cuban Links is my oldest vinyl so I’d definitely have to pick that one. That one. Umm…Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, there’s a lot of good production on it as well. And I would go with something like a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang which was very interesting for me to jump into that whole vibe. We were definitely making people understand that we didn’t lose that chamber that everyone loves to see Wu-Tang in. I would say those three years are some mean material right there.

RESPECT.: With new projects, what is the support like from fellow Wu-Tang members in 2017? Do you guys call each other up to congratulate or give feedback?

Yeah I do get feedback from the boys. Some of them called and reached out and some of them probably don’t know what’s going on because they’re so deep into what they’re doing. You know, at the end of the day any albums that you see I do, it stems from me always thinking about the flag that we built. So I haven’t talked to a lot of those guys but I did talk to a few who were definitely like, ‘Yo congratulations.’ That’s that. I haven’t heard from everybody all at once though. It’s cool, you know. When you got brothers, you don’t expect your brothers to acknowledge your work. They just know that you’re working and that’s just how it’s been for me. I’m trying to keep our flag as high as I can. Whether they know about it or not, it represents us, what we built for the last 30-something years.

RESPECT.: This is your seventh solo album, you are 47 years-old, and you are doing something that many rappers will never do. How do view the point at which you are in your career? Do you think you still have more to give musically?

 Let me tell you something, I’m Muhammad Ali when it comes to music and being an artist. That’s where I stand. I just feel like I’m getting older as I get better because I’m experiencing more. People could walk through my experiences and say, ‘This guy embedded half of his life into the hip-hop culture.’ It’s kinda like it’s already expected to be this way. I enjoy this. For me this I like jumping in the car and driving if I know I like to drive a lot. It’s the same way with music. There’s so much I’m gonna give you guys and do time. But I don’t think there’s going to be invalid moments right now for me. I’ve got a lot to give. I got a new protégé I’m working on, there so many things we’re gonna be giving you guys. This is setup for everything else we have coming up.

RESPECT.: Will you now be taking this album on tour? 

Definitely. I’m seeing a lot of people from all over the world from here to the UK, to Japan, to many different parts of the world. I definitely want to sing some of these songs to the people. We’re working on that. My management are really out there trying to get the right tour setup for me so I can go see my people. You’re going to get a lot of touring. Hopefully we’ve got a documentary we’re working on that’s going to be emerging soon which is the ‘Purple Tape Files’ which pays homage to Only Built 4 Cuban Links that was done twenty-something years ago, and also coming with a new artist this year that’s going to shock the world. It’s going to be really interesting for my team.

RESPECT.: Will you now be taking this album on tour? For the Wu-Tang fans, can we expect to see any reunions anytime soon?For the Wu-Tang fans, can we expect to see any reunions anytime soon?

Next year’s going to be another anniversary for the Wu. It’s celebrating Enter the 36 Chambers, which is celebrating 25 years, we’re looking forward to doing things together collectively again. You may even see something year because, this is year is the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang Forever so the guys are definitely putting some things into motion. So you got to keep you eyes and ears open so what’s going to happen in these next two years.

Suggested Articles:

New Album Friday: Mike Will Made-It, Raekwon & GoldLink

Raekwon Drops New Visual With G-Eazy For “Purple Brick Road” [WATCH]