As part of his “Storytime With Raekwon” feature with DJBooth, Wu-Tang Clan lyricist Raekwon offered his thoughts on a variety of topics, and even shared a handful of stories about Wu-Tang’s early days.
He also offered praise to artists including Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, and KRS-One. According to the rapper, those were the artists whose styles and techniques they studied as if they were English lessons.
“I grew up under the Rakims, and the Kanes, and KRSs, and Kool G Raps, and the NWAs,” Raekwon said. “And it’s like sitting there just watching they style and they technique on how they made music, we felt like they was talking for us. Whether it was Rakim and he was kicking ‘My Melody’ or something. And certain things that he might have said, we would start to emulate the words…At that time, it was just a sound that it was needed for us because it was like English lessons for us. It was like school.”
Raekwon later spoke on his Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… record, “Criminology.” Produced by RZA, the New York City wordsmith says it was a record that could have easily not come to fruition.
He went on to explain that at the time “Criminology” was created, receiving a beat from RZA was more of a first come, first served opportunity.
“When we made ‘Criminology’ it was like it was a lot of energy in the room,” he said. “It was actually—We made this record on Staten Island in RZA’s basement. At the time, RZA he never really came outside. He stayed on top of his machine…and he had it all in his basement. I remember coming to the studio and the shit was just blasting. This was before we put the Scarface skit on top. I’m like ‘Oh shit! RZA, you did it with this one.’ And it’s so crazy because if I wasn’t there that track probably might not would have been mine. It’s like that’s how it was back in the days for us. If you came to RZA house or whatever—whoever made it there first, nine times out of 10, if he was making the beat you had the first dibs on that beat because it was already—it was fresh off the stove.”
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