Raekwon: Cuba Libre

It is one of the most anticipated albums in Hip-Hop…right up there with Detox. Just the thought of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II has had Hip-Hop fans waiting on edge. So of course when word got out that the Wu-Tang’s own Chef would be working with the Doctor, results were – mixed. On […]

It is one of the most anticipated albums in Hip-Hop…right up there with Detox. Just the thought of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II has had Hip-Hop fans waiting on edge. So of course when word got out that the Wu-Tang’s own Chef would be working with the Doctor, results were – mixed. On one hand putting Dr. Dre and Shallah Raekwon together in the studio could easily be the start of another Hip-Hop classic. On the other hand, would the fans ever hear the music? Here are arguably two of Hip-Hop’s perfectionists, both of whom are working on albums their followers have just gotten used to…expecting. Well while fans are still receiving word and rumors on the release of Detox, Raekwon is gearing up to (finally) release Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. Now Wu fans heard this around the same time last year but were only left with the controversy surrounding 8 Diagrams, a string of mixtapes from Raekwon and a series of stellar verses on albums from artists like Wyclef, Fabolous, and of course Ghostface. Here Raekwon explains the delay for the album and lets the fans know what’s been cooking in the kitchen.AllHipHop.com: You’re just coming off of a tour, right?Raekwon: Oh yeah for like the last six months. I’m just traveling the word. We got millions of fans all over the world so that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been in Australia, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic…just a lot of different places.  I’ll tell you one thing, when I hear people from all over asking about Cuban Linx II….that s**t just be f**king me up. I respect my fans and I just want to make sure that they are well fed. I’m just out here letting people know that the Chef is gearing up to start releasing something.AllHipHop.com: Well to start things off, when is the release date for Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II?Raekwon: The release date is set for October.AllHipHop.com: So is it still set to be on Aftermath/Interscope?Raekwon: Well, It’s not going to be on Aftermath. We didn’t come to terms the way that we wanted to. Right now we’re just in the process of decision making as to what label we’re going to release it on. I still got a couple of other options that I’m trying to weigh out. I’m just trying to make the best situation happen. I put a lot of time into this record so it’s important that the house that I walk up into make me feel appreciated. I need to feel really, really, really appreciated. Right now we have a couple of options that we’re trying to go through and discuss.AllHipHop.com: So what are the other options that you’re looking at?Raekwon: That’s really kind of confidential. At the end of the day I don’t want to put myself in a situation where people think it’s coming out on this label and it’s not.AllHipHop.com: Well can you tell us who is going to be featured on the album?Raekwon: Well first and foremost I kept the formula pretty much the same. When you think of the first Cuban Linx album it had the Clan on it. I just wanted to give the fans that same formula.  As far as lyrics I got the Clan on there and they sound incredible. With beats I got the RZA. I was just thinking about the fans that have been with me since the first album and made sure that we didn’t go outside our realm. I feel like if I went and got a bunch of other people on the album outside of us it wouldn’t have that same feeling. So overall I can’t change the formula too much…just keeping it all Clan related. I do have one special guest on the album but I’m not going to talk about it because it’s kind of a surprise.AllHipHop.com: So by keeping it all within the Clan you’re trying to stay true to your fans. I know you all listen to each other but do you pay any attention to other artists out there?Raekwon: I mean, we definitely keep our ear to the street. I know I do. As far as the Clan is concerned, we’re still relevant because the brothers still got it. It never really went anywhere. It’s all about us getting together and getting some production that we can grab on to. When people hear these tracks they’re going to realize that we never went anywhere.AllHipHop.com: Are you going to continue to release mixtapes leading up to the album’s release?Raekwon: Oh absolutely. My kitchen is open right now. I got something coming for the Internet because fans on the net have given me so much support and love. Right now I have a digital thing coming out just for them. I mean, the album is done. It’s done. Anything that you get from the Chef right now is just a sampling from the kitchen.  So far we’ve put out a joint called “The Jihad” just to let people know what kind of vibe you can expect on the Cuban Linx II. But until I negotiate the terms and work out the situation I’m not giving out the main course. It’s like when you’re waiting for your entree and you’re getting these appetizers. The appetizers are so good that it makes you appreciate the entree and the restaurant so much more because everything so far has been off the hook. With this album, the entree is already on chill and ready to go but I got a few things that I want people to try before I serve the main course. AllHipHop.com: Now the first Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is regarded as a classic and looked at as the album that shaped a lot of the Hip-Hop we see today. What is the feeling trying to recreate that?Raekwon: I feel like we’re going to do it all over again.  It’s going to bring a whole new sound to the table again and bring another level to Hip-Hop.  People are getting really tired of the commercialized music. With this album right here—I’m not patting myself on the back but…I am patting myself on the back because it shows growth, originality, and creativity. This is what Hip-Hop has been missing. Everyone has been focused on making a radio record. My thought process is on when I cared about making a hot record. I’m just concerned about making a hot tape.AllHipHop.com: Do you see any similarities in the Hip-Hop community between the times Only Built 4 Cuban Linx dropped and now Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II?Raekwon: With the first one a lot of people gravitated to it but it was a slow burn.  It took people a little bit of time for people to realize what we were doing. There were a lot of cats out their bubbling and we had our little run.  I think it just takes time for people to soak it up because it’s a whole album. It’s not like it’s just one or two records on there. This was something that people can just put in their CD player and don’t have to touch it no more. That’s what made the album so historical. Nowadays you don’t really get an album where you can just sit and listen to the whole thing. You may get a couple of joints but your hands going to constantly be on the skip button because you can’t vibe with this song or you’re not feeling this other song. With this record we made it so that you can just let it play like the first one.AllHipHop.com: Who’s going to handle the bulk of production on the album?Raekwon: First and foremost with the bulk of production I made sure that The Abbot played his part. But being that we are in a new time I wanted to show some love to some other producers as well. I have an arsenal of producers that came on this project with me. I mean this is an assassin team of producers and I didn’t want to limit the entire album to just RZA production. I know everyone knows about the little situation that RZA and I were going through but at the end of the day that just makes us both stronger. I just wanted to open up the doors for some other legendary producers like J Dilla, Dr. Dre…..I’m really trying to show people that I have a lot of supporters in the world of production and I wanted to break bread with them.AllHipHop.com: So you’re trying to expand the production to show different types of styles?Raekwon: Actually I’m trying to expand the production but at the same time create something that no one has ever had. You got different dudes out there that have a few producers on their album but you’ve never had the type of elite producers that Rae had on his album. This is what I wanted to make sure of so people wouldn’t get it f**ked up. I went and got the best of the best. These are producers that have changed the face of the game. I’m always going to respect today’s Hip-Hop but at the same time I’m going to show respect to the people that paved the way. This is what makes the album more credible in the streets because when people hear the production team that I got…I don’t think anyone has put anything like this together before. I feel great about it.AllHipHop.com: Is Busta still involved with creating your project?Raekwon: Absolutely. That’s my brother right there. He’s the type of individual who embraces me as far as being a big brother and embraces me on a peer level. It’s about helping each other. It’s like on his record, if he needs my little words to help him to see what he needs to see then so be it. That’s the affect that he had on me for this record. He was very supportive of the situation and at the end of the day we have a real friendship. Plus Busta is one of the illest artists in the game to me. He really knows what to do when it comes to making an album – not just a record but a full fledged album. And he definitely had my back if I needed a message, word of the day, or some type of inspiration. It’s like having a coach.AllHipHop.com: You have spoken a lot about artists that create full albums.  Is there any artist in particular that you’re impressed or inspired by?Raekwon: Well, I haven’t really been inspired by any of the music that’s out today because it all sounds the same. AllHipHop.com: You spoke about it earlier but to go more in depth, what are your feelings on RZA and the 8 Diagrams album?Raekwon: All I can say is I told you. It’s a lot of people out there that love n****s for what they’ve done and felt like we was telling the truth. They felt like I felt. You got people that felt the album for what it was and wanted more but maybe it’s just that I’m ten times hungrier. I’m looking at my fans trying to give them what they want and expect. The 8 Diagrams album…it is what it is. It’s not a garbage album but it is in a direction that RZA wanted to go in. I didn’t necessarily want to go in that direction. I learned from that. I took a lot of criticism and at the end of the day it’s still my baby that’s out there. It’s still my album. I still respect RZA and the art that he creates. I respect his craft. He kind of knows that I’m at the point where I want to make hardcore music because that’s our background and I’m not going to stray away from the formula that I’m used too.AllHipHop.com: Do you think another album will be released that’s more in the hardcore direction?Raekwon: Well, the Clan right now knows the fans want to hear more Wu. So of course we won’t have a problem delivering another album when it’s time but there will be changes. Changes made for the better. When we do another one we’re going to make sure everything is where it needs to be. Everything can’t depend on one man. There’s no I in team.AllHipHop.com: But you feel this album will give the fans some of what they’ve been missing?Raekwon: Oh yeah, of course. I haven’t rushed this album. It’s been two years now and it doesn’t matter how long it takes because this is my name and my credibility on the line. I just want to make sure I give the people what they want. As far as the record, I’m super confident because I’ve had enough time to sit there and decide what I want to come with. When it comes to bringing you these albums we don’t rush them. The Chef don’t rush it. I’m going to deliver you an album that’s crazy and have brothers coming back to the store like they always do.