For Raekwon, the success of his 1995 classic debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx …, is a double-edged sword. While the Wu-Tang Clansman celebrated and performed songs from his first album on Saturday at Rock the Bells in New York, he admitted to MTV News that sometimes the OB4CL admiration distracts from his other work.
“It is a gift and a curse, because sometimes people get stuck off of one style I got, and that’s cool if that’s what you love,” Rae said backstage at Rock the Bells before he and Ghostface performed Cuban Linx … for thousands of fans. “I mean, I wanna be loved regardless by the fans because they help me pay my bills and allow me to still be here, but as long as you know what I’m capable of.”
The Chef got his start as a member of Wu-Tang Clan in 1993, but after dropping the much-celebrated Cuban Linx…, Raekwon was held as one of New York’s biggest rap draws, right along with the Notorious B.I.G., Nas and Method Man. Since then, Rae dropped Immobilarity in 1999 and The Lex Diamond Story four years after that. In 2009, the Staten Island MC returned with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx … Pt. II , and last year he released his fifth solo album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang . Still, having such highly regarded debut can be a lot to deal with at times.
“Of course I get tired of people dwelling on that, but at the same time, that’s me, that made me a Martin Luther King rap n—a, that put me in a certain box. So if that’s what you know me by, as long as you know me from the get-down side,” he said. “Other than that, all I can do is keep climbing and keep growing and that’s all I been doing.”
In true Chef fashion, Raekwon used food to draw his perfect analogy, comparing his albums to prime cuts of meat. “Every now and then, it do feel like, ‘Yo, check this out, leave that steak alone, that sirloin, and f— with New York steak or this rib eye or somethin’.”
On August 1, Rae celebrated the 16-year anniversary of the Purple Tape and spoke with RapFix about its impact. “I knew I had a classic when I formulated with these nine members in this group,” he said of his camaraderie with the Wu. “Everything at that time that we was making, we was so sharp, it was supervisual already.”