interview RAEKWON (PART 1)  (September 2009) | Interview By: Javon Adams

   The word legendary and classic is overused in todayís vernacular but dare I say that Raekwon is legendary and his debut opus Only Built for Cuban Linx is classic? Javon Adams was able to link up with Wu-Tang member Raekwon for a Dubcnn exclusive. On the eve of his newest release, the follow up to the aforementioned classic, Rae talks about being his own marketing team and how he balances the demands of fans with his artistry. Iím sure you all know about the oft delayed Only Built for Cuban Linx II and the Aftermath situation. Rae talks about what he learned after going through that whole deal.

Rae is honest and spits fire on the mic. Not a bad combination for a dubcnn conversation. We have a Part 2 to follow that looks back on his career - stay tuned!

As ever, be sure to leave your feedback in our forums or email them to javon@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in September 2009

Questions Asked By: Javon Adams 

Interview Audio

Dubcnn: Alright, this is Dubcnn sitting with the one and only Raekwon. So I know you have a busy schedule with the album about to come and everything. So, how is life for you right now?

How is life?

Dubcnn: Yeah

I mean its still normal though. Iím a grounded fellow you know? Iím definitely overwhelmed with the fact that everybody is respecting what Iím putting out right now. So that gotta be the best feeling for me but Iím just staying grounded though. I donít wanna get too hyped yet. I wanna just pay attention and focus and give back to my people, yo.

Dubcnn: You talked about not wanting to get too hyped. Now when you go intoÖthe way the industry has changed over the last few years with the sales going up and down even for really talented artists and really good projects not getting what you would think they would get in terms of salesÖhow do you approach that in terms of your expectations for this project?

I mean, it goes up and down like a scale to me. I want to see all the people that have been routing for me for years to go get it but then Iím looking at the young generation taking over as well. So I just sit back and let it be what itís gonna be.

When it comes to making music the first thing I want to do is represent. Outside of the sales Iíve done every number from wood to platinum so what do I really have to prove? My thing is to be able to make money and take care of my family and continue to make strong music man.

Dubcnn: Youíve been around for a minute and I follow you on Twitter so I see you are really active and embracing new media and the new technology and everything. So what has the response been like from the folks as youíre staying connected out there?

I mean, itís been crazy. When youíre on the Twitter and all of that youíre opening up your house to everybody else. I really took time to not get too tranquilized by it but use it as a component as far as opinions and stuff because itís about yíall right now. I want to be able to let everybody know to just give me what you want and Iím gonna serve it to you.

I really make sure that I utilize that because I have no marketing team. I am my own marketing team. Me, Myself. And I give all this thanks right here to my brother. My young brother really got me on my toes to where I was supposed to be and all that goes to him.

Dubcnn: I wanna talk real quick about expectations. Not your own, but the way fans kinda put expectations on you. Because the same way that you have an album that comes out..because I bought the purple tape and I was bumpiní it. So when you have an album like that and its classic and everybody wants another one of those but youíve grown and you go through different experiencesÖtalk about that struggle that you go through when fans want one thing and if you give them that then they complain and if you give them something that you feel that they might complain about that too. How do you handle that?

I mean, like I said earlier, I go back and forth. Thereís times when Iím like f-ck the game, f-ck everybody and then there are times when my mind will be like, ĎBut you still gotta listen.í But you can never satisfy everybody. Then you wouldnít know what struggle meant if you could do that. You wouldnít really know how to handle the struggle if youÖits like for us we feel like certain White people canít come live in the hood because they never really witnessed it first hand the way we witnessed it. And it goes for Black people going over to rich sh-t because we donít know how to appreciate sh-t. So thatís just a part of life. Ups and downs with peoples emotions. But for me, Iím a G and I know what I have to do.

Iíve been doing it long enough to know the sh-t but at the end of the day you just take your time and let it be what its going to be man. Weíve said that on albums, skits and all of that. Itís gonna be what itís gonna be.

Dubcnn: You talked about you being your own marketing team and really taking on the responsibility. So with taking it all on you shoulders and being proactive about stuff, whatís the biggest thing that youíve learned in this whole process? Because this has been a long time coming with this project with the whole aftermath thing and all thatÖwhatís the biggest thing youíve learned in this whole ordeal?

Thatís a good question too. And you know what? If nobody donít believe in you, then you believe in you. You know what I mean?

Dubcnn: Gotcha

I believed in myself all the way from when I first picked up the pen to start writing the album. But it was like, honestly, it was like 90% hate on me and I only had 10% love. Everything else was just not for me. Not believing in me. I was having certain insecurities inside of my family. My household was going crazy. But Iím still managing to deal with it the best way I know how. And I guess thatís all a part of going through pain sometimes. Because you could be thinking that you are doing the right thing and then you donít get a chance to see your kids. And your kids are really on you like theyíre the parents now. Like, ďYo dad! Whatís up? You breaking out again?Ē

So Iím just going through a lot as a man and Iím learning the business more and more and I always tell people that I feel like Iím at my best right now. Whether you see it or not. Anybody that knows Rae, they know Rae is super boisterous and heís going to say what he means and mean what he says. Heís going to approach everything the way heís supposed to. The way Rae is always supposed to be.

And thatís how I move man. Iíve been through a lot. My life is a movie too. Iím just glad that people are able to understand the kind of Hip Hop that weíre making and still know that it exists as far as being at the top of the emcee chart, you know what I mean? And I just wanna show n-ggas that I still know how to do this sh-t. I donít give a f-ck if I was f-cking 49 years old. I will take my belt off so fast on one of these little rappers! *laughs*

You feel me? But at the same token I want to sit down with them and have some cookies and milk with Ďem and salute them. You know what I mean? Real talk though. You canít ever hate on a little ni**a trying to get his money. From where Iím from, if anybody little was getting money then we respect you. Its about giving it back and making them feel comfortable too. But you know the older ones gotta tear that a@@ up if you get out of place.


Dubcnn: One of the things that I talk aboutÖbecause I have a radio show as wellÖI talk about age in Hip Hop. And the thing is if youíre a writer (author) as you get older youíre expected to get better. If youíre in the Rock genre you have the Rolling Stones that are 80 or 90 years old and they are still doing their thing. And in Hip Hop I think it is so wrong to try to push emcees out the door because they hit a certain number in terms of the time that they have been on earth.

True story. And I always look at some of the greatest emcees that are still around and doing their thing and I feel that they walked away more so than we pushed them out. Only because dudes get to a point where itís ĎLayback Seasoní now. They say to themselves, ĎI already did what I did and I want to get excited again. But I have nothing to get excited about.í You know what I mean? So that how you get sometimes a lot of famous rappers that do their bid in the game and then just fade back.

But its all about unification. Itís about respecting the new as well as respecting the old. We have to do that as being artists. So how I look at the whole thing for Rae is like, ĎRae, you love this. You live through it.í And you have to understand that itís a new elite in the building. At the same time show them that you still wanna be here. You wanna be here, not gotta be here or have to be here. (Show them) you wanna be here. This is what we do. And we do this for a living man.

I feel like, overall, I wanna put 100 n-ggas on before Rae lets it go. You dig it? Honestly. You know, Wu-Tang was a stepping stone for each man. It was something for you to be able to bring your face to the whole situation and make it work. Thatís what itís all about. So for me to come from that strong familyÖwhy am I not out there providing the things that I know that I can? Somethingís not right if Iím not doing that

Dubcnn: Gotcha. So, Only Built for Cuban Linx IIÖwhen is it dropping? Let the folks know.

It might be in the stores now. Iím getting a lot of calls that itís out there for sale, no bootlegginí or nothing. But itís all good. I just want brothers to know that I did it for the world man. I did it for yíall man. Thatís nothing to a G man. For real. I got a feather in my hat when I say that.


Dubcnn: I appreciate the time. I hope we can hook up again. Thanks for taking a few minutes.



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