Raekwon Opens Up About ‘The Purple Tape Files,’ Nas’ Studio Session for ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx’ [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Raekwon, the self-appointed Chef of Wu-Tang Clan, has been hard at work prepping for the April 28 debut of his sixth solo studio album, Fly International Luxurious Art (F.I.L.A.). But as he moves forward with his musical journey, Rae is also reflecting on the past with his debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary in August.
The album, possibly one of the top five (if not the best) solo efforts from a Wu member, is regarded as a hip-hop classic. The effort is credited with helping to build the foundation of the East Coast rap movement. To celebrate 20 years in the game, Rae is putting together The Purple Tape Files, a documentary that gives a retrospective look at the creative process for Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. The rapper teamed up with producers Steve “Raze” Julien and Raj “Trini” Maharaj to add the cinematography elements to his audio masterpiece.
Although Ghostface and Rae teased the trailer for The Purple Tape Files at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the doc will likely not be ready until August, which is closer to the LP's actual anniversary date. Before the project arrives, we got a chance to chop it up with the Chef to discuss some of the standout memories he has from recording his debut effort. While he prefaced the conversation by stating he couldn't reveal too much, he did share details on a recording session with one of Queensbridge's finest.
“One of my greatest memories is bringing Nas to Shaolin, to RZA’s house for him to come do his verse for 'Verbal Intercourse,'" Raekwon tells The Boombox about recording Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. “That was one of my moments because we were chillin’ back then. A lot of people don’t know that Nas and I we were real cool back in the '90s. He would come to my crib or I would go to his crib."
Rae details how the magic happened on "Verbal Intercourse," which came to be due to his ear for solid lyrics. "We got him out to Staten Island -- 'cause you know he’s the only feature on the album -- we are in the studio at RZA’s crib, we played him the beat and he loved the beat,” the MC recalls. "But he just didn’t know what rhyme to throw… Next thing, you know me, I had to go into A&R mode and play some s---. I’m like, ‘Give me some ideas or sing some joints.' When that, 'Threw, the lights, camera action' thing came out and he pieced that muthaf---- together I said ‘That’s it, homie.’ And that was illest verses from a feature that I ever had in my life."
Nas' appearance on the album may have been a shock to some Wu heads since the album was originally intended to feature just Rae and his brothers in the Clan. "For us, how Nas got on the album was like, if there could be a 10th member of the Wu, it would have been him," the "Wall to Wall" rapper states. "I had a lot of friends who I could have called on at that time, but that was an album that I personally wanted to make one of the illest rap albums of the world... and I knew [Nas] fit that chamber."
Taking a stroll down memory lane like this is exactly what fans can expect when they finally see The Purple Tape Files. The project is not only meant for Raekwon to reflect on his growth as an artist by retracing key moments surrounding the project, but it's also a way for him to connect with his supporters. “It is so important for me as the person that everybody loves their album to have my consumer and fans part of the project,” he explains regarding the crowdfunding site he created for The Purple Tape Files. “If this is what you want, then I want your input.”
Fans have a little more than a month left to donate to The Purple Tape Files fund. If all goes well, we can expect to see the documentary by Aug. 1, the 20-year anniversary of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
Watch Raekwon's The Purple Tape Files Trailer
Listen to Raekwon's "Verbal Intercourse" Feat. Nas & Ghostface Killah
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