[artist id="1190"]Raekwon the Chef[/artist] is having a good year. "I feel like Martin Luther King right now, just getting the Nobel Prize," he said, closing out 2009 with more accolades. Already voted one of MTV News' Hottest MCs in October, the Staten Island swordsman just received another honor — his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx ... Pt. II album was voted #7 on Time magazine's Top 10 Albums of the Year.
"He's still rhyming about cocaine deals, hustlers and urban menace — which makes for an elevated degree of difficulty, since a song about the production of crack ('Pyrex Vision') should be not only impotent in 2009, but deservedly so," writer Josh Tyrangiel said. "The reason it works, like all of Cuban Linx ... Pt. II, is that Raekwon is a poet of grime, a storyteller who understands that rap is less about an easy hook than the collision of carefully chosen words."
Linx ... Pt. II was also voted as the Best Rap Album of 2009 by iTunes.
"It's a great feeling ... I just look at all the hard work I put into it and gives me a sense of relaxation knowing that people respected what I did," he told MTV News. "For me, confidence is a mutha----a. That's something that I had, dealing with so many pressures in life right now, as far as making this album. For people to reward me for achieving something so great, it's the confidence that gave me the spirit to move forward. For me to know people are really saluting the album, it just reassures me about hip-hop, that people still look at hip-hop as something people still love. Regardless of whatever is taking place, people are still acknowledging cats from the 'hood such as myself making great music."
The Chef says he was most surprised by the Time accolade.
"We know Time is one of the most real magazines you can get on any level — politics, whatever is going on. That blew my mind right there. Even when we glanced at it, it didn't have no rappers on it. I was like, 'I must've been competing with a lot of different types of music, whether it be pop, alternative, country or whatever.' That blew my mind. To be in the top-10 list with everybody, it was crazy."
The Chef, who is currently on tour, says his album cycle doesn't end now that he got some kudos — he's going to continue pushin'.
"This was an important album for the world, for hip-hop," he explained. "I wanted to keep it moving and do all the videos for the album. I wanna do the dirty video ['Ason Jones'], the 'Kiss the Ring' video, 'Cold Outside.' Just letting everybody know we appreciate people still believing in what we can do. I give all the credit to the fans. They allowed me to rewrite my history again and not really take for granted the part I played in this business. Like, 'Yo Rae, you still ill, but you gotta make sure you know what you gotta do and not let nobody take you away from what you believe in.' I knew this album wasn't going to get any airtime, but I wanted people to know I still gave them something from the heart."
Rae's next album will be a group effort with fellow Wu members Ghostface Killah and Method Man.
"Everything is still underground right now. We're still putting pieces together and making sure we give the world what they want," he said. "But everything is coming out how it's supposed to be. We're still in the operating room right now."