Raekwon

Raekwon
Raekwon chooses his words carefully when talking about his latest project, Wu-Massacre, with Wu-Tang brethren Method Man and Ghostface Killah. Instead of saying, "This isn't my project," for example, he says, "This is a Def Jam, Method Man and Ghostface Killah production." Instead of saying, "I wish I had more control over it," he says, "I was required to do a service and I'm here to do my service." Instead of saying "I'm not fully happy about this situation," he says, "That's something I accepted due to loyalty of the fans and loyalty of Wu-Tang." He speaks the language of someone who's survived nearly two decades in the music industry by being verbally agile, and focused in the face of politics. At a recent stop in Vancouver, the Chef spoke with Exclaim! about his new project with Ghost and Meth ― kind of.

How did the idea of the three of you doing an album together first come about?
It wasn't my call. It was a call from Ghost and Meth. This is what they wanted to do, and they called me in, saying, "Yo, we want you to be a part of it." How many times am I going to tell my brothers, "No, I'm not going to be a part of it?" I was basically dragged into it, but it's good. It's a good feeling, knowing that fans are really looking for this record. I'm doing it for the fans. If it was business-wise, or whatever, I'd be trying to do this independent, because there's so much laying on their side of the table for us. I would rather make the money. What the fuck I want to make the money for another company for? That's where I'm at right now. We the label now; we go straight to where we want to go to do the deal. What we need Def Jam for, you know what I mean? But they have obligations with Def Jam. I don't have obligations with Def Jam.

What was the reason for the name changes, from Wu-Massacre to Three the Hard Way, then back again to Wu-Massacre?
I found out about it just like you. [Laughs] This is more or less Method Man and Ghostface's situation at Def Jam. I just come in to do my thing. I don't know nothing about all that other shit; I wasn't notified of that.

What can you tell me about Wu-Massacre?
It's going to be tough; it's going to be a nice sound. You already know that we sound good together, number one. It's going to be mesmerizing.

Can you speak on producers or whether there are any guests?
I can't talk about that. I can't tell you about something I don't know. This is a Def Jam, Method Man and Ghostface project. I'm just coming into this project being associated to Wu-Tang, of course, but the whole business side of it, I have no knowledge of it. All I do is set up and rhyme. You know what it is? It's politics. I'm doing this for the fans, right here. This is a Def Jam thing. We have no ownership in it, our voice is little in it. We coming to do a job. I come in and spit bars. I think, really, that was something that I accepted due to loyalty of the fans and loyalty of Wu-Tang Clan. It's business. I didn't know the album was [at one point] going to be called Three the Hard Way, I didn't know the [first] video was going to be "Our Dreams." I'm getting calls saying this is what's going to happen. I just come in to do a job. I'm not doing this for the label, though; I'm doing this for Method Man and Ghostface. When I was doing what I had to do, Def Jam wasn't helping me. I respect Def Jam ― well, I respect the old Def Jam ― but I'm on some independent shit. Now I'm able to make ten times more than what I was making dealing with labels.

So are you satisfied with how this album is coming?
One thing about me, when I get out on stage, all that falls off of me.

Am I correct in thinking that you're clearly doing this for the fans, but that you're frustrated―
I'm not frustrated; you're putting words in my mouth. I'm involved in this project because the fans want this. They want to see a Rae, Ghost and Meth album. I can't front of the fans even if I feel like I don't like Def Jam. I ain't gotta like Def Jam, but I was required to do a service and I'm here to do my service.

How would Wu-Massacre be different if it was a Raekwon project, and not a Def Jam project?
There would be more communication in the building with all of us. Communication is everything. It's like, I can't be mad that they believe in the project and they're moving forward, but communication is everything. I feel sometimes that people take things into their hands without looking at what the artist may feel. Now, if I'm on the project and I'm considered one-third of it, don't I need to know what's going on? But I'm not mad, because I believe in what we got. I believe that the world is ready to see a Method Man, Raekwon and Ghost collaboration. I can't front on that, no matter how much I may feel like, "You know what? They need to do this, they need to do that." I'm not on their label; I'm independent. I'm not being notified, I'm hearing a lot of shit like the fans, but it's all good. We're going to take it for what it is. That's how this project is going down.

So you're glad to be doing this project, you're doing it for the fans, you wish you had more communication and freedom, but overall you're happy?
Exactly. I'm happy to see that the fans are really repping us and our music, saying we're still putting it down, because we're still some bad motherfuckers when it come to rhyming. I come as the people, still. It's like, I'm not Republican; I'm Democratic. At the end of the day, we're going to deal with the politics and we're going to be real with it. If I was involved in the way that I wanted to be involved, then I could talk the way I want to.