This August marks 22 years since Wu-Tang Clan stalwart Raekwon dropped his groundbreaking debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Now Rae is unleashing his seventh solo album, The Wild, on IceH20/Empire. "I was trying to give [fans] a grown Raekwon album," he tells Exclaim, "a record that people can say is well rounded and full of moments."
In contrast to 2015's Fly International Luxurious Art, on which Rae flew solo on only three of the 13 songs, features on The Wild are subdued and methodical. "I wanted to come from a different perspective; [Lil] Wayne, I never worked with Wayne before, and I felt like that would be interesting. I never collaborated with CeeLo Green before, so I felt like that would be interesting." Also on the project is new school hero G-Eazy, an artist Rae admits he's been into for a while. "I respect what he's doing, and he's an artist I feel he deserves that platform to be recognized as one of the great MCs in the game."
The LP also serves as an introduction to his new artist, P.U.R.E. "I think he might be the first kid that I know that comes out the door from this new generation that's going to make a classic album. I'm excited about that."
The project as a whole explores a more insightful tone than his past releases. "I wanted fans to say, 'Look, Rae ain't just on some gunman shit, he's talking about surviving and stuff too,'" he says with a laugh. "I feel like, as an artist, growth is so important." He acknowledges that his age and his family have helped shape his evolved maturity level as an artist. "We get older and have children; you want the best for your kids. You want them to know that it ain't about being negative all the time in the music."
With a documentary set to drop this year, releases on his label, and The Wild all helping to bolster his personal brand further, he's quick to clarify any perceived animosity between himself and the Wu-Tang Clan. "It's never an issue with my brothers. They doing their thing; we already in discussions talking about moving forward together."
It has always been about the sum, though, as Raekwon explains: "I think I was always designed to make albums, and not just sit on singles." Ultimately, he feels that The Wild is one of his most complete projects to date, and his excitement about it is infectious. "I just wanted to give you guys a collage of great thoughts from a great person. I'm feeling great; the fans keep me motivated."
How does it stack up to OB4CL? "It's a classic in my eyes," he says confidently. "It's me giving y'all the best that I can give you."