15 Questions with Raekwon of The Wu-Tang Clan (harvard crimson interview)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2008 16:12
Wednesday, 02 April 2008 16:12
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By JESSICA L. FLEISCHER
Crimson Staff Writer
Hey Gavin, we hope you don’t wanna be the only one in the spotlight, because you’re going to be sharing it...with the Wu-Tang Clan. In light of their upcoming performance at Yardfest, FM sat down with Wu-Tang member Raekwon to talk about tattoos, 3EB, and successful pick-up lines.
1. Fifteen Minutes (FM): One of your aliases is “The Chef” because you make flavorful lyrics. So we were wondering, what makes certain lyrics more delicious than others?
Raekwon (R): It’s just their topics, just, you know, the added preservatives that I feel the track may need at the time. I could get versatile. I could rhyme about street life stuff, and if I wanna get on grown men and say grown men are sexy and rhyme about another topic and then be about a lady’s career, or a person, you know, doing something positive, I could just be versatile when it comes to that.
2. FM: We also read another explanation—that it’s because you can cook cocaine into crack rock.
R: (laughs) Cocaine?? No!... We not gon’ put that in there! We not gon’ put I was a chemist in the street, you know what I mean? That’s on another level, baby, that ain’t me right there.
3. FM: Well, we did read that you were working on another album called “Weed vs. Cocaine.” Is that not true?
R: Nah, not at all. I’m working on another album, called “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx [II],” basically revolving around my first album that I made solo called “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” This is the second album...part two of the first album I ever made in my career. So it’s more like a struggle of drug dealers, and you know, the fashion, the clothes and everything that comes with it. But I wouldn’t say this is strictly a cocaine album, you know what I mean? The lyrics is cocaine though, that’s what makes it cocaine.
4. FM: Got it. Ok, enough about drugs. Let’s get back to why you’re really here: the Harvard Concert Commission. Just kidding. What’s your favorite part about being in the Wu-Tang Clan?
R: I mean it ain’t really a favorite part, it’s just you know I just come out there to play my part and be the best of what I could be, you know? We is like a basketball team, each man play they position for a reason to make the team what the team is. So I think I’m just a team player, that’s all. Nothing crazy, I just know how to score points.
FM: What position would you be on a basketball team?
R: I would be a mean forward, you know what I mean?
R: A mean guard, or whatever, whatever, for sure, ’cause I always go for the points. So yeah, I’d be a guard, a mean guard. I could play center too, though, know what I mean?
R: I’d be the livest, shortest center you ever seen in your life.
5. FM: Probably. So be honest, who’s your favorite member. I’m sure you have one—everyone’s parents have favorite kids.
R: A favorite member of my group?...I would say, um, that’s a hard one, though, because it’s like everybody got different things that I look at that I think makes them special, you know what I mean?...I mean like Deck, because Deck always comes through with a nice verse, you know what I mean. And I might like GZA for his intellectual...preference for how we put it down. So I can’t really say, that’s a hard one, trying to say with The Clan though, but everyone got they own style. That’s hard, you know what I mean?
FM: Do you have a least favorite member?
R: Not with The Clan...I don’t really judge my brothers’ lyrics because I know everybody gets busy. Everybody gets busy.
6. FM: Do you call Wu-Tang Clan ‘The Clan’ normally? How do you abbreviate it?
R: We abbreviate it different, different forms. Sometimes its just Wu, it’s Wu-Tang, it’s The Clan, it’s The Killa Beez, you know, it’s whatever we call it at the time, because we don’t really look at it as just Wu-Tang Clan, we just look at it as Clan. Clan is the crew, the family, everything is family-oriented.
FM: When you say ‘The Clan,’ I just think, it just sounds like...doesn’t it sound like...
R: Ku Klux Klan?
FM: Yeah. Does that sound weird?
R: (Laughs). I know, it sounds like that only because you think of it like that. But The Clan to us, it means like a family, if you got a bunch of siblings, that’s a clan too, it’s just that you never called it that...I mean, I know what you’re saying though, but you know, I guess that’s how people could look at it. It’s a team of men, or a group, but I guess you could find clan in a dictionary right now, right?
7. FM: You’re playing at Harvard after Third Eye Blind, a notoriously hard act to follow. How do you feel about this?
R: I mean, it’s cool...I never been biased when it come to any kind of music you know, I’m sure they gon’ have they fans out there, they fans gon’ love me, if not, we gon’ make ‘em love me. And it’s likewise, my fans may love what they do. So we’ll see what happens, though it’s definitely gon’ be fun I think.
8. FM: Are you psyched to be splitting the bill with Gavin DeGraw?
R: Say that again?
FM: How do you feel about splitting the bill with Gavin DeGraw? Do you know who that is?
R: Nah, I don’t even know who that is. Who is that?
FM: Well, he sings the theme song to “One Tree Hill,” if you’ve ever seen it.
R: He sings songs on One Tree Hill?
FM: He sings the theme song, it’s called “I Don’t Wanna Be.”
R: Oh, ok, ok. You like him?
FM: He’s alright.
R: Alright, well we’ll see how many other people like him. I mean, one thing about me...I do music all over the world...So let’s just hope that people, you know, they know about him (laughs).
9. FM: Let’s hope so. Ok, let’s imagine you’re playing Yardfest and the crowd is not that into it...maybe it’s raining and people are all tired from singing along to “I Don’t Wanna Be.” What’s your strategy for getting everyone into it?
R: Well, we just basically coming out with good energy on stage. You know, sometimes, you gotta just wake the crowd up. I guess sometimes the crowd goes according to however the artist may be moving, but you can never tell because some people just wanna look at a show, some people wanna react with the show. I’ma want them to react with the show but I guess it’s gonna be determined when the music comes if they gon’ get involved with it. But you don’t gotta worry about that with me because I perform both ways—they can sit there or they can get involved...In fact, you know how it’s like when somebody go to church and the holy ghost come into they spirit? That’s how I do when I get on stage. I put the spirit in people.
10. FM: Can you cook us a rap on the spot?
R: I can’t really get my energy levels together right now because I’m in a different zone right now. I’m tryin’ to get out of traffic. I’m in a traffic jam right now...I’m going to my DJ’s house right now, going to listen to some more beats and all that, though, but I promise I catch you another time. Just trying to get through this.
11. FM: Someone in a Wu-Tang Clan Facebook group got a Wu-Tang tattoo on his arm. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done?
R: I seen a fan with a tattoo of Ol’ Dirty Bastard on his leg before, looked just like him, I thought that was pretty hot.
FM: Is that the craziest thing, tattoos?
R: It’s one of the craziest things...but I think it’s just traveling all over the world and just seeing different people from different nationalities that don’t speak English be knowing our records, that’s amazing to me. You can to go a country that they don’t know no English but they know hip-hop, you know what I mean? And they know my hip-hop, so it feels good to have that kind of effect on people.
12. FM: So what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
R: We don’t wanna go there.
FM: “We” don’t? Really? If you say so.
13. FM: We read on your Web site that you think “Cuban Linx” is the “Scarface” of hip-hop albums, which is a pretty bold claim. Do you ever have moments of doubt or are you always that confident?
R: Nah, I’m always confident. But you know, I’m human, it be times when I panic, it could be a big game and you start sweatin’. That don’t mean you don’t feel like you gon’ win, it’s just an adrenaline rush. I always live off the competition, I live for the excitement of the game, period. So yeah, sometimes you have hot flashes of good days and hot flashes of bad days but that comes with the territory of being an artist.
14. FM: Speaking of the territory of being an artist, what’s your best pick up line? Is it “Hey, I’m in the Wu-Tang Clan?”
R: Hell no. I ain’t never use that, you know what I mean...I never was like that...I feel like if you gotta do that, then your lines is like, played out, it’s like that ain’t the truth.
FM: That’s true. So what would it be?
R: “How you doing?” “What’s good?” “How you feelin’?” “How are you?” Get to know your personality and see if I can hold a conversation with you, a grown conversation. That’s what it’s about...Just good conversation, that’s all.
15. FM: We really like introducing new words into everyday language, like “inapropro” instead of inappropriate. What’s a word that you think people should start saying?
FM: What does it mean?
R: Politickin’ means to keep moving into politics, like learn and grow from it. Like if you sayin’ that you doin’ something and you being the best at it, and you stepping into that arena, you dealin’ with politics...Time is of essence. Time ain’t always there for us, it’s just what you make of it. So I think I should probably start throwin’ that word on the map. Politickin’. That’s what we say in the hood when we doing something that makes something happen. To start a movement, it’s like you politickin’ with whatever politics you dealin with. Got me?
FM: We got you.