After kicking off 2011 with a new album, Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang, and worldwide tour dates, Raekwon will be headlining the “This is Hip-Hop” event at BB King’s this Sunday (April 17). We caught up with the Chef while he was overseas to discuss the reception to the new album, an upcoming movie project, and his thoughts on the return of long-time friend Prodigy from prison.— Calvin Stovall
XXLMag.com: What has been the reaction to the new album?
Raekwon: The reaction was good. It was what I wanted it to be. I just wanted people to get they hands on a solid album. You don’t get a lot of great albums that got consistent, great songs on it… It was definitely a war, a war with Wu-Tang and Shaolin on that album. Shaolin is just basically the indecency side that I bring to the game as well as the Wu-Tang side that I bring to the game. Me just fighting the two alter egos that made sense in my life. As far as one Wu-Tang member, I’m always gonna represent that W. But at the same time, Shaolin side, which is the more disciplined Raekwon doin’ what he has to do for himself as a man and representin’ my brand and my business. That’s the comparison that was goin’ on. So, at the end of the day, I’m happy where it went and I’m happy people enjoyed the album.
XXL: So, do you feel like you resolved that inner conflict between those two sides? Or is that something you’re gonna keep exploring on the next album?
Rae: At the end of the day, that album was a movie. That was a movie that was bein’ made at the time. So, we don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. I’m not never sayin’ I’m not workin’ with Wu-Tang again, that would be kind of silly for me to say. But, it’s just all about me advancing my brand and whatever happens in the future with the Wu is gonna be what it’s gonna be. You know what I mean? We came in this business tellin’ y’all that we would eventually establish our own independence as far as our brand was concerned. And that’s what’s goin’ on right now. We still family, of course.
XXL: You have dates coming up with Mobb Deep and the recently freed Prodigy?
Rae: Yeah, I know at some point we gettin’ in with them up in New York real soon. So, I’m excited about that show. A good brother came home. Prodigy, this is one of my longtime peers, friends. He just came home. I had an opportunity to catch [him] while he was home. So we chopped it up on a lot of things. Our plans for the future to work together as a crew again. Mobb Deep, Wu, etc.
XXL: What effect do you think his bid has had on him as an artist?
Rae: I think his bein’ away just allowed him to be a little more focused. A little more hands on with his business. And of course, he definitely looked like he acquired a little bit more intelligence. You know what I mean? And that’s what jail do. Either it can turn you into an animal, or it can turn you into a wiser individual. And from what I was seein’ from just chillin’ with the brother, the brother is definitely way more intelligent and you can just tell that he’s more sharper than ever.
XXL: We hear you’re working on a film.
Rae: Yeah, I’m working on a movie as we speak right now. It’s called “C.R.E.A.M.,” but we might change the name because there’s a lot of dialogue with people doin’ documentaries and doin’ other things that got the same name, “C.R.E.A.M.” But this was a film that I been workin’ on for the last two and a half years. Almost like an autobiography of my life. But at the same time, it’s being told from the eyes of a young youth growin’ up in the ghettos. And the struggles that come with bein’ in these ghettos and still bein’ attached to hip-hop music and growin’ up with a bunch of unprivileged cats. It will be an interesting story with a strong dialog that will basically attract the older cats as well as the younger cats. It’s gonna be somethin’ that y’all are gonna be able to check out in the future. We’re just putting the touches on the end of script— we wanted to make sure everything was balanced— just get ready for it.
XXL: Will you be starring in the film?
Rae: Nah, I’m gonna be coming more from the director’s point of view this time. Being that the movie is so intimately involved with my life and involved with the things that I really wanted to talk about. I really wanted to be hands on from the back end and just really making sure that it’s being told the right way.