Raekwon the Chef

Real Name: Corey Woods
D.O.B.: January 12th, 1970 Brooklyn, New York

Label: Aftermath/Interscope Records

In The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA explains that Raekwon also derives the "chef" moniker from his experience as an actual chef ("He was known for cooking up some really good fish.") However, the Wu-Tang Manual also defines "chef" as a cocaine cook.

Raekwon is a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Raekwon may not have achieved the solo stardom of his fellow Clan members Method Man, Ol' Dirty Bastard or RZA but along with Genius/GZA and frequent partner Ghostface Killah, he's done some of the most critically acclaimed work outside the confines of the group. His 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is widely considered to be one of the best Wu-Tang solo albums, and one of the finest and most influential hip hop albums of the 1990s. Over the years, Raekwon has become known for staying true to his New York street fan base and making little effort to appeal to those outside of the city.

Recording Career

  • Only BUilt For Cuban Linx...
  • Raekwon joined the Wu-Tang Clan in time to participate on Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, the group's massively successful début. He later signed a solo deal with Loud Records and, working with Ghostface Killah, released his first solo LP, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... released in 1995 on Loud Records. It is considered to be one of the best hip-hop albums of the '90s and a pioneer of the Mafioso rap genre.

    Cuban Linx was a diverse, theatrical criminological epic that saw The RZA move away from the raw, stripped-down beats of the early albums and towards a richer, cinematic sound more reliant on strings and classic soul samples. Lavish living and the crime underworld are referenced throughout, with the mystique of the Wu-Tang Clan deepened by the adoption of crime boss aliases and the crew name Wu-Gambinos. This album is commonly referred to as "The Purple Tape", because the original cassette's plastic was entirely purple. Raekwon made this decision because he wanted to make sure people knew his album, in a way similar to how drug dealers may mark their goods. In 2008 the album will be performed live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series, which special guest Ghostface Killah reprising his appearances from the album.

    Among the album's most notable qualities are its unique production and songwriting. Raekwon, co-star Ghostface Killah and the rest of their Wu-Tang brethren created vivid images with their lyrics, giving the album a "cinematic" quality. While continuing Wu-Tang's use of the Supreme Alphabet, the album's theme was a notable departure from previous Wu-releases - coupling their traditional use of kung fu flicks with samples of Scarface - resulting in an album that was at once more grounded in the criminal world of the New York streets, while at the same time had the group adopting Mafioso-inspired aliases as the "Wu-Gambinos". The effect of Cuban Linx was so profound that, seemingly overnight, many rappers transformed from street-level hoodlums to Godfather-style crime bosses.

    Deviating from past Wu-Tang efforts and heralding a narrative-driven concept that redefined the Gangsta rap genre, Raekwon's solo album is widely considered to be one of the most influential albums of hip hop in the 1990s. In fact, it was one of the sixteen hip hop albums to be included in Pitchfork Media's Best Albums of the 90s Redux list, and was listed as one of thirty-three hip hop/R&B albums in Rolling Stone's Essential Recordings of the 90s list. In addition, Stylus Magazine called it one of the greatest hip hop albums ever AllHipHop.com calls it "incredible" and fellow rapper Busta Rhymes regards it as "one of the best albums ever". It was retroactively given a "5 Mics" rating from The Source Magazine, and in 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums. (It was rated 4.5 in the original Source review.) It is still remembered by many fans as perhaps the best Wu-Tang solo LP thus far, comparable to Ghostface Killah's Supreme Clientèle and Genius/GZA's Liquid Swords (the All Music Guide calls it "a serious contender" for that title). Cuban Linx also helped launch Ghostface Killah's solo career, as he appeared on thirteen of the album's eighteen tracks; his future solo work on albums such as Ironman and Supreme Clientèle has received notable critical acclaim. Hip-Hop Connection, the world's longest running hip-hop magazine, also voted the album as the best record of the last decade (1995–2005). Despite the criticial reception, the album did not sell very well, only reaching Gold status within the United States for sales exceeding 500,000.

  • Immobilarity
  • "It's called real life, son. It don't cost nothin', just a blast."

    Cuban Linx had an enormous influence on the burgeoning East Coast hardcore rap scene, cultivating the Mafioso rap phenomenon of the mid-1990s. Raekwon's hyper visual narratives, chronicling the crime underworld of drug trafficking and the luxurious pleasures of the high-end illegal business, led many to draw comparisons with Kool G Rap (considered as the progenitor of Mafioso Rap). Since then, the album is widely regarded as the quintessential hip-hop recording of the 1990s. After Raekwon participated on Wu-Tang Forever group follow-up album, he continued the strength of Mafioso rap and named his follow-up solo project, Immobilarity released in 1999. The name referring to The Godfather III when Michael Corleone invests into the international real estate holding company, Società Generale Immobiliare. It has been stated that it works as the acronym, "I Move More Officially By Implementing Loyalty And Respect In The Youth." It was released in November 1999 on Loud Records, and peaked in the Top 10 of the US album charts.

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