Raekwon the Chef – Wu Tang Clan (2010)

Wu-Tang Clan came to Glasgow in 2010 as part of a tour that claimed they were “Reunited and in full effect”. Two weeks before the show, Method Man dropped out to film an episode of CSI.

Historically, late-era Wu Tang has been riddled with flakiness and false hope. If you can actually get them in one room together there’s always some glaring disappointment that pops the nostalgic old-school-lovin’ bubble of fans itchin’ to see staight-up legends at the top of their game. But its not their fault. This isnt 1993, a lot’s changed, and that’s fine. But sometimes, it’s an unwanted to fact to face.

I went to the show with my friend Kris and for the most part, it was pretty decent. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were on top form and went out all guns blazing. RZA, though never the strongest in the clan in my opinion when it comes to rhyming prowess, is easily one of the best performers, if not THE best. He has such a great, confident voice and such a unique personality that his energy is always intoxicating. That night he ran the show with his usual garbled venom and got the crowd jumping. For the most part, the rest of the show was just a bunch of 40-year-olds drinking water and shouting every second line with towels over their shoulders.

Before the show, however, I wrote a short preview piece in a local events magazine. After I’d written it, we got a late opportunity for an interview with Raekwon the Chef, and though it wasn’t necessary for the piece, my editor said yes just to see if we could use it somehow.

So, having already written the piece, this was essentially a bonus, and with the pressure off, I felt more relaxed than ever during an interview. Raekwon – who I later found out shares the same birthday as me, weirdly – was surprisingly generous in his conversation considering I’d heard that he was difficult, to say the least. After I got over who I was speaking to – I was kind of at the height of my Wu-Tang fandom so it was pretty surreal – it settled into one of the coolest conversations I’ve had yet.

Below is the edited transcript of the interview which has never actually been published. There is, however, a longer transcript I can’t seem to find which has some less relevant questions in it, including the one where for a laugh, I asked him who would play who in a Wu-Tang movie. During a stupid stoned conversation, my friend Kris and I started riffing on ideas to this very question and he came up with the idea that revered Def Jam comedian Eddie Griffin could play Ol’ Dirty Bastard. We laughed, then started to believe it could happen. Somehow, when I asked Raekwon, he mentioned a few ideas for other Clan members and then weirdly – honestly, no shit – he suggested Eddie Griffin could play ODB!! I nearly exploded, I couldn’t believe it!! I immediately called Kris and we pissed ourselves laughing. Sadly, this idea has not yet materialised, although a couple of movies featuring ODB have been in the works, one of them notably starring Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire).

Anyway, if I find it again I’ll tack it on here at the end. In the meantime, please enjoy this short interview with The Chef, done in summer 2010.

 

So, are you excited to come back to Scotland?

Raekwon The Chef: Yeah, definitely man. When I think about Scotland, i think about the exciting people out there that really love hip hop. It’s been a minute since I been out there though, but yeah, I can’t wait man, it’s gonna be hot.

Have you got good memories from previous visits (to T in The Park, etc.)?

RTC: For the most part the crowd is definitely excited, it don’t feel like I’m in Scotland when I’m there. I just love how people represent real hip-hop music y’know, you hear people singin’ the songs and like I said, it don’t feel any different from home, for me. It’s just people really loving what we do and loving the music, so it’s gonna be exciting to get back out there and get in front of the people and give them a great show.

Are you surprised at the response you get over here?

RTC: Of course man, you know what that says to me, it’s a blessing to be able to come to the other side of the world and get people that really love your music and have been following it for so long. So it gets me more excited to come over and I’m’ gonna try and give y’all the best show you’ve ever seen in your life. That’s how I think when I go up to the shows around the world, and especially on the other side of the world, because I feel like on our side we’re a little bit spoiled. We get shows regularly, but when you get out there, people really appreciate the artist coming so far to celebrate with them like that.

For you what makes it different to come back with the whole clan together compared to just doing shows yourself?

RTC: It’s always great to have the guys here, because the people wanna have all of us there. But solo wise, y’know, I love it both ways because I love to travel at the same time and visit different landmark countries. Whether it’s me or with the clan, I still love it because people know that i really take full responsibility when it comes to doing crazy shows and shows where people feel like they got they money’s worth and all that too. I’m a one man band anyway, so it’s all good but I love to see people excited to see all of us too.

You’ve all been pretty busy with your solo efforts and other endeavours, but why did you feel this was the right time to get back together as a unit and do this again?

RTC: Because we have an oath that we made to the fans and to the world that we will be travelling the world and doing shows together. I think with us sort of being out of the loop with each other for the past two years, it’s only right to come back to the table, pull out a plan and get back out there and really support that brand the right way.

For anyone who hasn’t see you together or perhaps only caught solo shows, what – besides the obvious – is going to make this show extra special?

RTC: Because there’s not another group on this level that did it the way we did it. We have a ton of classic records that i know a lot people are like ‘Yo, I remember that from the early 90’s’ to today so there’s a lot of music to be played. We got some of the most entertaining MCs in the game that’s gonna be on stage and really perform. You know how sometimes you go to a show where you see guys just standing there and it’s like, alright, he’s just rhymin’, but there’s just something special about when the clan gets onstage, it lights everything up. We get to run with it, we talk to the fans, we talk to them all about how we came in the game, we do a tribute to our brother, our beloved Ol’ Dirty Bastard and people wanna see that, they wanna see guys that really paved the way for a lot of guys in the game to exist, and i think that you’ll probably never ever get another group like this in your whole lifetime. So it’s all about really getting in front of the people and having fun with y’all and letting y’all know you can talk to us. Wu tang has never been one of those groups with that Hollywood mentality and you see us comin’ with security and all that. Nah, you can actually touch us and feel us and know we’re real people, and i think that makes people more excited.

With such an impressive catalogue between you all, how do you go about choosing what songs to play on a night?

RTC: Well, y’know, we go for the jugular; we do all the classics you know what i mean? Like I said we got classics from ten years’ worth of music that has stood the test of time in the game. So we just sit down and we come up with the ones that we know people really go crazy for. When you think about Wu tang’s legacy, you think about the many classic albums we made. Just in the early 90’s we probably made about six classics and that’s just outta nine individuals so that’s a ton of music right there. And then anything after that, my solo projects, Ghost’s, meth’s, the rest of the crew, it’s really a lot of records so we just try to sit down, break it all down and really give you the best ones that gottta a lot of energy to ’em.

You tend to play a lot of each other’s solo stuff when you play live together, are you proud of the rest of the clan’s work individually?

RTC: I’m always gonna be proud of them whether they’re in the limelight or they’re not, I mean, we all did a lot for the game and like I said, I couldn’t be here without them guys. At the end of the day we just wanna have fun and respect this legacy that we’re dealing with.

Do you have a favourite to play live?

RTC: There’s a lot man, let me be honest with you! I could sit here all day and talk about this album and that one. If I think about what we did as a whole and all the solo albums, there’s too many records to sit here and talk about. Recently though I was listening to Method Man’s ‘Tical’ album, I mean, god DAMN! Then you might want to switch over and go to Liquid Swords or back to the Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Return To The 36 Chambers’, or back to my album, ‘Cuban Linx’, or Ghostface’s ‘Iron Man’. So there’s a lot of songs, but hopefully we’ll give you something to go crazy about.

Amongst all the solo projects and compilations, have you thought at all about doing another ‘proper’ Wu Tang Clan album?

RTC: This is something that allows that conversation to grow because when we get on the road we always sit there coming up with plans, but at the moment right now there’s nothing on the table about an album.  But hopefully when we get in the room together, we laugh and we joke and put our thinking caps on, then there’s a possibility you might see something happen in the future. Right now all I can say is that we did tell the world we would eventually reach out and do our own things and this is the time we in right now, so this is what’s goin’ on. I’d love to get together with the Clan and do another album but it has to make sense and be something I feel is 100% dedication and financially it has to make sense for all of us. I’d do it for the love anyway, you know what I mean?  Sometimes I gotta sit there and be wise about my decisions though. But if it was up to me and we could pull it back together and do it the way we’re supposed to then I would be a part of it but it’s just got be right. You can’t do something and not have the right intentions with it, it’s gotta be a right move.

 

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