Q&A: Raekwon Recovers Some Lost Jewelry

Categories: Raekwon, Wu-Tang

Smoking one for all the lost jewelry out there... We miss you dearly.
Raekwon is the mayor of fly shit. Snow Beach pullovers to Cuban links, his oft-imitated style and slang have been referenced for the past 20 years -- as Cappadonna once put it, "Half the East Coast sound just like Rae"). In the past, he's accused Frank White of biting his visual style. Today, if he gave a damn, he could accuse Frank Ocean, who was spotted a little while back sporting the quintessential Polo Ralph Lauren piece, the Snow Beach pullover, of the same. Rae's reach is obvious.

Over the course of his career he's kept what he calls a "jewelry box" of unreleased musical gems he's amassed. He's decided to drop that collection out of the sky as Lost Jewelry. As he put it, " it's an appetizer" for the start of the new year and as a prelude to an album he says he's releasing sooner than later in this year of The Gods, 2013. Let's just enjoy the appetizer the Chef has just presented and chat him up about the ingredients, what it took to make the dish, and of course, jewelry.

See Also:
- Ten Reasons Why The Wu Tang Clan Are The Greatest Rap Group Of All Time
- Top Ten Greatest Rap-Acronym Anthems

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The Top 3.75 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Week

Welcome to Sound of the City's scouring of the many hip-hop songs that drop every week in hopes of finding a couple of songs that stand out. This week we managed to get our hands on three and three-quarters of them—not bad at all.

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The Top 13 Hip-Hop Songs For Summer

Free lunch, fire hydrants on full blast and beach chairs on the sidewalk—yep, the summer's here Need a hand composing a playlist to go along with a hot and lazy day's activities? Just in time for the official start of summer (and today's 90-plus temperatures), SOTC has put together a list of the best songs we like to hear while poolside, seaside, passenger-side, or just sitting in front of a fan watching Do The Right Thing. (No, "Hot In Herre" is not on the list.) Drums, please...

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Peter Rosenberg's What's Poppin' Vol. 1 Takes The New York Hip-Hop Scene's Pulse

New York City rappers have been cast as something of the rap world's whipping boys for more than a few years now. Not only is it fashionable to paint the city's scene as still stuck in the '90s—that's, er, despite the man who effectively runs rap, old man Jay-Z, being pretty proud to hail from Brooklyn—even sympathetic profiles of the city's up-and-comers feel the need to ponder whether the MCs in question can break some sort of curse of the five boroughs. But this way of thinking is bunkum at best, and a cliché at worst.

But those people who've even casually cocked their ears toward the underground know that NYC rap has been doing just fine of late; a unified scene and a common vision have been slowly forming. Radio warrior Peter Rosenberg's first installment in the What's Poppin' mixtape series might not be an outright statement of hometown health, but with over half of the tape's 23 tracks showcasing artists who call NYC home, it's a timely reminder of the scene's promise.

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Live: Raekwon Turns Prospect Park Into Another Corner Of His World

Raekwon, Smif-N-Wessun, Joell Ortiz
Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell
Saturday, July 9

Better than: "Salem (DJ set)" at Brooklyn Bowl

The Prospect Park Bandshell is probably the best place to catch a hip-hop show in the New York City summer. Yes, you're going to have to stand in a line that stretches beyond the park's BBQs and puggles to get a metal detector wand waved in front of your junk. (Uh, did you guys do that before the Andrew Bird show?) But the park's all-inclusivity and neighborhood picnic feel makes it the rare occasion to see, say, Skyzoo perform his underrated, chest-caving "Speakers On Blast" while watching antsy little kids fidget like they're at the opera and earnest, elderly white ladies making the most of their Celebrate Brooklyn! memberships.

Fortunately no one celebrates Brooklyn like Joell Ortiz, who somehow managed to perform "Brooklyn" and "Brooklyn Bullshit" back to back for Saturday's Lyricist Lounge-curated throwdown. Naturally, he got a hero's welcome from his borough, but he didn't understood the neighborhood as well as Smif-N-Wessun's Tek, who performed their "Timz N Hood Check "while literally pushing his daughter in a stroller. Hello, Park Slope!

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The Ten Best Hometown Productions By Large Professor

Large Professor cuts an outside figure in the New York hip-hop scene these days. As a producer who also happens to rap in an endearingly economical manner, he's integral to any overview of hip-hop's storied golden era--he tutored under Paul C, contributed production input to Eric B & Rakim songs, scored a classic with his own group Main Source's Breaking Atoms, and helped kick-start the career of a [then] Nasty Nas when Queensbridge's golden son was still rocking a band-aid over his cheek in promotional pics. But since his late-'80s emergence, Large Pro's solo career has unfortunately faltered, with his intended solo debut The LP caught up in label politics and long-delayed, and his subsequent statement on Matador, First Class, resonating limply at best. As a producer, Large Pro has never caught a particularly pop break either--unlike, say, DJ Premier he's never been handed an opportunity to gallivant with a feisty chanteuse. Instead, he's maintained a dedication to working with grass-roots New York rap talent as if the very idea of cracking the mainstream is absurd.

Large Pro's newest project, the album Still On The Hustle, reunites him with fellow Queens resident Neek The Exotic--a pairing last heard on 2003's Exotic Is Raw set, for which Large Pro handled around half of the production duties. It's a release unlikely to trouble those whose RSS feeds frolic above rap's underground layer, but it's a collaboration that allows Large Pro to continue to dwell in a hip-hop world of his own creation. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago, he was late because he was cycling around Flushing Meadows Park while listening to his iPod--the impression given was that he'd prefer to produce at his own leisurely pace and on his own terms rather than pucker up and play the major-label game. It's a stance that should be applauded. With that in mind, here are ten commendable hometown anthems produced--as opposed to remixed, which would be a whole other lengthy listicle--by Flushing's finest self-proclaimed "live guy with glasses."

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Q&A: Raekwon On Getting His Third Wind, Rapping About Crime In A Soft New York, And Giving RZA Tough Love

"Just growing up when we grew up and how we grew up and of course where we grew up . . . I seen enough to keep me inspired for decades, man."

raekwon shaolin cover.jpg
From the moment we all heard those kung fu effects on "Protect Ya Neck," the world was hooked. Smitten by the rugged wordplay and seemingly endless lineup of furiously spitting rappers, the Wu Tang Clan was like nothing any rap consumer had ever heard before. But on their second single, "C.R.E.A.M.," the bragging, violent rhymes were replaced by somber, heart-wrenching verses about the hardships of growing up on the crime side - one particular emcee with a penchant for vivid, creative slang introduced listeners to a world few knew existed. Raekwon the Chef quickly became a Wu favorite; his 1995 solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, is still regarded by many as the finest individual Wu effort in a crowded field, and might get more than a few votes for the best hip-hop album of all time.

After 1997's Wu Tang Forever, however, things got a little funny. Excepting Ghostface and maybe Method Man, the rest of the clan didn't garner the same attention as it did during the early and mid '90s. Through the last decade, Raekwon released work sporadically to lukewarm critical reviews and wildly varied public opinions. After the release of the Clan's 2007 effort 8 Diagrams, Rae voiced dissatisfaction with ringleader RZA's beat selection and vowed to put out more work on a more consistent schedule. 2009's Only Built for Cuban Linx II . . . Part II was quickly followed by Meth, Rae, and Ghost's Wu Massacre; his latest solo effort, Shaolin vs. Wu Tang, came out last week. Rae is clearly getting his third wind: Walk with Lex Diamonds as he revisits his childhood, and discusses his redoubled efforts to stay both inspired and relevant.

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Justin Bieber Update: A Report From Never Say Never's Opening Night

I should start by stating by own critical bias. When last week I told my younger, Bieber-loving sister that I'd be seeing Justin Bieber's 3D movie on Friday night at Union Square, she told me straight up that if I were to write a negative review she would kick me out of the family. Still, neither this devotion, nor a colleague's warning that she felt more afraid when interviewing Bieber fans than at any point during the Gathering of the Juggalos, prepared me for what I was about to face when I bought my opening-night ticket for Never Say Never 3D.

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Hip-Hop's Top Ten Greatest Sneaker Songs

Kid Cudi, going all out for Converse.
Sneakers have long been hip-hop's footwear of choice. The links between the artists making the music and the companies behind the kicks are now totally intermingled, from top-end exclusive lines like Jay-Z's limited-to-five-pairs all-black Air Force 1s (decoded: they're entirely black) and Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezys to the populist-minded brand Converse sponsoring a summery release from Kid Cudi. In honor of the show that committed hip-hop sneaker freak Rick Ross played this past weekend in NYC as part of the 2010 Sneaker Pimps tour, here's a look at ten top sneaker songs from the annals of rap.

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Remembering Fat Beats, The Best Record Store In Underground Hip-Hop History

gang starr fat beats.jpg
Gang Starr flanking Fat Beats owner Joseph Abajian, who unfortunately saw this coming
In 1997, Paul Rosenberg, the attorney of an aspiring rapper from Detroit calling himself Eminem, was walking along 6th Avenue in the West Village with ten copies of an independent 12-inch vinyl single titled "Just Don't Give a Fuck." His mission was simple: try to persuade a record store called Fat Beats to stock it. He'd heard the store mentioned on Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito's WKCR college-radio show, and thought it crucial to launching the career of an underground rap artist.

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