*The legendary rapper Raekwon the Chef chops it up with Radio & TV personality Jazmyn ‘Jaz’ Summers. His new album drops early next year and he has a book out “From the Staircase to the Stage: The Story of Raekwon and the Wu-Tang Clan“ about his life and journey with the Wu-Tang clan. The Clan has recently got a lot of renewed hype after being featured in a Hulu series and other specials.
He says the album will feature his lyricism: “Yo, I love to paint pictures and take people in different directions. I might give you some hard stuff, some soft stuff, some conscious stuff, I might give you some crazy stuff. It’s all about expression, it’s all about having fun. When I make an album, it’s like going to the movies, painting pictures, rhyming.”
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In the book he spills it all: “the book is the good, bad and the ugly but its the truth and it has a good ending because that’s how I feel today. I kinda let it go. I felt like I was talking to a psychiatrist, a shrink, I really opened up about my feelings about how I came into the game. I talk about how it (Wu-Tang) allowed me to take care of my family and I wind up having another family the Wu-Tang which is two different families that I learned so much so from.”
He tells Jaz that life wasn’t easy: “As a kid growing up our family didn’t have money. I talk about how my mom was robbed and that made us leave Brooklyn and move to Staten Island. My mom, she’s a single parent, she endured a lot of stuff, being abused. Me being her only son watching these things take place, affected me a lot. I have children today. I want them to never know that’s something a dad is about. I’m not about hittin’ a woman, ” he reveals to EURweb Spotlight. “As a kid sometimes you think it’s cool to fight with a person you love because you may think that’s love but when you see them getting hurt and going down then you can’t respect that. It taught me how not to allow myself to be that person, to walk away but that’s something that stains me. I talk about my addictions, cocaine and crack when I was young but still paying attention to being better. Everybody in the neighborhood was doing it. But for us it was mostly weed and when we started seeing people goin’ down (with crack) it was yo this shit is tearing people up so it was an automatic stop, turn the light on and off.”
“I come from a negative environment but it’s people with a big heart. It’s just that you get caught up in the things in front of you and not really seeing the differences between the positive and the negative. Once the Wu-Tang career started we had to make a decision between the hustle days – nickel and diming and getting from one spot to the other. You gotta make a decision. You can’t do both. I wanted to take care of my family after generation after generation where everybody had to struggle. Me knowing that I had an opportunity to do something positive to take care of my family and not endanger them at the same time so they ain’t gotta worry about you out there doing this and that, you out there, you holding guns or whatever, you got a career now. You doing something positive.”
Dealing with a group of nine members meant lots of beef. How did they stay together?
“It’s hard to maintain with nine members,” he shares. ” It was brotherhood at the end of the day. It’s like fighting with your brother or your sister. Y’all connected. Y’all built something together that the world loves. Differences are always going to happen but it’s how we overcome those differences. If you are disrespected, you gotta try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But it’s been those up or downs. What kept us together is ya’ll the fans. You could be in an argument in the studio and gotta go to the shoot. You gotta wipe your face off and go out and deal with it at the time and just represent the people that love you.”
One of his funniest memories was years ago. “We was in Amsterdam. This is when our careers first started. We got in the hotel and were like oh snap we can order room service. We can do whatever, whatever. We had a bugged-out road manager. We liked him but we didn’t like him so one day we decided to play a game with him, He called hisself giving us just 3 hours to get ready for the show and we was really tired so we was like we gonna get u back. So we was all ordering room service. Why the bill came back and the bill ended up being $100,000. It was so crazy cuz we was doin’ it on purpose cuz we knew he had to put his card down . When it was time to check out the hotel was like if y’all leave we calling the police cuz somebody gotta pay this bill so the label got involved and they had to pay it. If not we woulda been all locked up.”
In Raekwon’s journey to be a better man, he became a Muslim. He says: “there comes a time where you want to realize that somebody in a higher form is blessing you. We understand that the afterlife is serious. It’s all about repenting and wanting your sins to be forgiven and not just taking life for granted and learning more about who you are and your duties as a man.”
When it comes to ol’ skool hip hop vs new school, Raekwon shares: “The J Coles, the Migos, the Lil Babys, Da Baby I like their music. It’s cool. We came from the different side of making albums and getting real intricate with our wordplay. One thing about that generation was it was very hard to get on so you had to be clever. You had to be outspoken to pave the way for everybody today. Tt was hard to get on back then. You don’t know who to talk to, now all those doors are open. You can actually do a lotta things from your home and get recognized, build your own fan base and next thing you know you got these record companies paying attention. For us that was rare.”
For the full convo check out the video at the top. And please don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube channel.
Interview/article by Jazmyn Summers. Follow her @jaztalk1 on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Video editing by www.patrickhousefilms.com