Raekwon is many things. He’s a member of the greatest rap group ever assembled, the Wu-Tang Clan. He’s a Staten Island Don, who, along with his partner Ghostface Killah, charted the course for Mafioso rap at its inception in the ’90s. He’s the mind and microphone behind Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, one of the finest examples of lyrical virtuosity ever committed to (purple) tape. In short, the man is a legend.
That being said, Raekwon is the first to acknowledge that not all legends are created equal. Some still have that spark to create, to push, and to grow long past their perceived “prime” has ended. Others give up a long before then, allowing the game pass them by, bemoaning the state of how things are, and wishing it would go back to how it used to be. The Chef counts himself as a member of the former camp. “You know, it’s one thing to be a legend, and to be a legend that don’t got it no more,” he said. “I’m a legend that still has it.”
You see the phrase “return to form” used by a lot of writers to describe a new album that surpasses the quality of an artist’s last release. It’s past cliché, but I’m here to tell you that The Wild is a definite return to form for Raekwon after his previous album Fly International Luxurious Art. On The Wild he sounds less like a guy chasing trends, and more like an artist confident in his own abilities, working with sounds that he’s most familiar, while dropping lyrical word-bombs with impunity. “This is for fun,” he said. “When you do sh*t for fun you do it forever.”
I recently had the chance to talk with Raekwon about The Wild, but also a whole range of different topics. He gave us a state of the Wu-Tang Clan. He talked about his one-time adversary the Notorious B.I.G. He spoke about the prospects for an Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Part 3. He also revealed his deep, abiding love and respect for Motown singer Marvin Gaye. Read our conversation below and look for his new album The Wild on 3/24.