Raekwon The Chef and his foodRaekwon Raps: Ice Water, Wu-Tang, ‘Cuban Linx’

August 15, 2007, 10:20 AM ET
Gary Graff, Detroit

With the unveiling of his proteges Ice Water, Wu-Tang Clan and solo albums on the horizon, and a run on the Rock the Bells tour, Raekwon can make a case for being the hardest-working man in hip-hop these days.

“One things about the Chef — I’m constantly working, man,” the Staten Island MC tells Billboard.com. “If I’m not doing one thing, I’m doing another thing. I’m trying to wear all these hats right now as far as being an artist, a writer, a businessman, a producer. I constantly stay on my job.”

Make that jobs. Raekwon has actually put his next solo album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II” — which he says is “99 percent finished” — on “freeze” while the Wu-Tang Clan finishes its new album, “The 8 Diagrams,” which is set for release on Nov. 13, the third anniversary of group member Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s death.

“I guess (Wu-Tang leader) RZA stressed to the people he had to about how much that date meant to us,” Raekwon (real name Corey Woods) says. “It’s like just thinking about our brother, just wanting to keep him around us mentally, y’know?”

Raekwon describes “The 8 Diagrams,” Wu-Tang’s first studio set since 2001’s “Iron Flag,” as “authentic and hot,” adding that the album will feature several guests — including producers — he declined to name them as yet. Raekwon did confirm that the track “Gently Weeps” samples the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and features the late George Harrison’s son Dhani and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante.

“We’re still debating about certain tracks as far, as will the people understand or will they be able to ride with it,” Raekwon says. “If you’re a real Wu fan then you know what to expect from Wu-Tang. But if you’re trying to expect anything close to anybody else, you don’t really know us.”

“Built 4 Cuban Linx II,” meanwhile, will be 14 or 15 tracks of “raw hip-hop,” with production he says is “a little deeper.” Collaborators on the album include Dr. Dre, RZA and the late J. Dilla, the latter on what Raekwon calls “a brother and sister track” to “Triumph” from 1997’s “Wu-Tang Forever.” He may also be looking for a new label home for the album, as Raekwon says he and Interscope “didn’t come to a complete understanding about the project.”

Before any of that, however, comes the Aug. 28 release of “Raekwon Presents … Ice Water: Polluted Water,” the first album by the Staten Island quartet the rapper has been training and nurturing for several years. “I always knew they had potential but had to grow to that level of coming into the business on my strength,” explains Raekwon, who recruited guests such as Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Three 6 Mafia, Jagged Edge and others to appear on the album.

“The guys had to figure out what they wanted to do before I could actually give them the opportunity to be heard, and it just finally arrived,” he continues. “The dudes got their heads together and the music is flawless. I’m just trying to be more of a businessman and bring in some talent. The game needs that right now, man.”

Raekwon Raps: Ice Water, Wu-Tang, ‘Cuban Linx’ (Billboard.com)

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