With razor sharp wordplay and luxury slanguage, few rappers in their 40s have enjoyed the same prolonged relevance as Raekwon. In the summer of 1995, Corey Woods released Only Built For Cuban Linx and ushered in a new era of Mafioso rap along with his Wu Tang Clan co-star Ghostface Killah. A masterpiece in criminology, the album heavily influenced the early careers of Jay-Z, Biggie and countless others as well as furthering the Wu Tang’s unparalleled rise.
Raekwon pulled off a rare feat by following it up with a quality sequel in 2009 and has continued to earn a reputation as one of the most consistent and digitally savvy members of the Wu. While the group celebrates their 20th anniversary, Rae remains focused on his solo career and is preparing for the April 28th release of his sixth album Fly International Luxurious Art as well as a documentary about the making of his classic debut.
Let’s talk about your new album Fly International Luxurious Art. You’ve said previously that it’s going to be “for all rap fans.” How do you cater to a wider audience without diluting your individual style?
I just try to be open-minded about creating music and also give them [the fans] an opportunity to see growth as well. Even though I’m a ‘90s artist, I still know every now and then, I have to give it a little shine in certain pieces of the music instead of just giving them that raw ‘90s sound. I just go with the determination – “this is what you do, this is your job, you’re supposed to know how to do this.” I collaborate with the right producers who understand the music that we are going after and we just go into it with a strong will and make it happen.