History doesn’t only include the past, it can include the present too. One of the historic figures in hip hop is Raekwon, considered by many to be one of the pioneers of the Mafioso rap sub-genre, who doesn’t perform songs, but rather “street epics” that are “straightforward yet linguistically rich universes not unlike a gangsta Iliad.” (Matt Preira, Miami New Times)
In 1993, hip-hop would be forever changed by the emergence of Rawkwon and the gritty, Shaolin style of the seminal rap clique, the Wu-Tang Clan. It provided listeners with a fresh approach to hip-hop. Moreover, the Wu set trends in a time when hip-hop’s radio play and sales were championed largely by west coast artists. Wu style was soon imitated. Their grimy, sparse beats and incredibly diverse lyrical flows, which creatively drew from Kung-Fu flicks, became the musical blueprint for many hip-hop cliques. To this day, the Wu-Tang’s impact on hip-hop culture is unyielding. The Wu not only influenced the state of music as a group but also as individuals. Each member seems to have his own exceptional characteristics which resulted in almost cult followings.
Raekwon (the Chef), one of the nine talented emcees, shines as the purist of lyricists. Watching him perform is watching history being made. So listen up and take note – Raekwon, arrives at The Colonial on June 13, 2012 at 7:30pm with his musical prowess and unstoppable talent. It’s going to be a night to remember.
Pittsfield-based Nostalgia will take the stage to open for Raekwon. Nostalgia features core members DRAMATIC, J.Soul and Quik Monee who have been performing together under various names for the past 10 years. This is locally grown hip hop with a message.
There’s a long history and evolution of both the sound and the concepts pioneered by Raekwan, and we detail many of them below, album by album.
But even more illuminating are the two videos below that – to me at least – show the yin and yang of Raekwon’s creative approach to the genre. It’s best to watch them for yourself, they tell their own stories.
Corey Woods aka Raekwon, joined the Wu-Tang Clan, a nine-member hip hop group based in Staten Island, NY, in 1992. Wu-Tang Clan debuted one year later with the album, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. Songs from the album included “Protect Ya Neck,” and “C.R.E.A.M.,” the latter of which reached number 8 on the Billboard rap chart. Wu-Tang Forever followed in 1997 and went platinum four times. Alongside other solo projects by its individual members, Wu-Tang continued to record as a group, releasing The W in 2000, Iron Flag in 2001 and 8 Diagrams in 2007.
In 1994, Raekwon released his debut single “Heaven & Hell” for the soundtrack to the movie Fresh. His first solo LP, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, was released in 1995 to rave reviews. Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah appeared on over half of the album’s tracks, with Wu-Tang member RZA producing the album in its entirety.
On September 8, 2009, Only Built For Cuban Linx… Pt. II was released after several delays. The album features many Wu-Tang members and affiliates, as well as Slick Rick, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Beanie Sigel and more. On September 28, 2009 Raekwon was named the #10 Hottest MC in the game by MTV. On top of that, Rae (along with Ghostface) was a go-to for numerous rappers making albums, ranging from the Playaz Circle to Jadakiss to BK One.
After the critical and relative commercial success of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II, Raekwon collaborated with Method Man and Ghostface Killah for Wu-Massacre, a short trio album designed to showcase unity within the group. Following this release, Raekwon resurrected talk of Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, a project announced in 2007, originally planned as a Wu-Tang album. Though not a Wu-Tang Clan project, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang was released in March 2011, serving as Raekwon’s fifth solo LP. As originally planned, RZA did not participate on the project, however, several other Wu-Tang members made appearances, as well as Black Thought, Nas and Rick Ross, among others. Shortly after Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang was completed, Raekwon revealed that he intends on eventually releasing a third installment to the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… albums.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Raekwon is still expanding his empire. He established Ice H20 Canada, with the hopes of presenting to the world some of the untapped talents of Canada. In addition, he also developed 3783 Media, a collective based in Los Angeles, which serves as a full service production, digital and management company. This music giant will never stop and his musical prowess is sure to astound and entertain audiences.
Tickets and Prices
Tickets to Raekwon on June 13, 2012 are $20-$55. Tickets may be purchased in person at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Office at 111 South Street Pittsfield, MA 01201 or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until intermission.