If This Is Your First Time Hearing This: Raekwon Edition
Words by Nico Rud.
Jaime Black of Dynasty Podcasts was interviewed by CS Honcho, Alexander Fruchter (DJ RTC), a few weeks ago. At the very end of the interview, Alex brought up one major lesson he learned during his time in Hip Hop. It was something passed down Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan. Rae told him, “When you stop, that’s when you fall off.” A very important message to spread to everyone out there. The quote stuck with me and I figured I would talk to Alex about working with Raekwon to kick off a new column I am starting on ClosedSessions.com, "If This Is Your First Time Hearing This..." The column introduces music from CS' rich catalog that you may have never heard, or not heard in a while.
Raekwon recorded the track "Keep It Politics" in the fall of 2010, when he came to Chicago to participate in the Closed Sessions x RubyHornet party series, Digital Freshness, which featured RTC and VIPJ (of The Cool Kids) as the resident DJs. "Keep It Politics" ended up on Closed Sessions Vol 2. and was produced by DJ Babu of Dilated Peoples/Beat Junkies Crew. Peep the interview below, and get some back story on the track. And if you've never heard this before, peep the documentary above and the track below.
Were you a fan of Raekwon and Wu-Tang Clan growing up?
When Wu-Tang Clan first came out, I was too young to fully understand what they were doing beyond the music, and crazy personalities in the videos. At that age I was most captivated by Method Man and his Tical album. His personality was larger than life. As I got to High School, I really got involved with Wu-Tang and their Wu-Tang Forever album. I remember that was one of the first "enhanced CDs" and had a little video game that took you into the Wu Universe. With Raekwon specifically, his verse on "C.R.E.A.M." is one of Hip Hop's most classic of bars, and in "Triumph" he name-dropped Rod Strickland. At that age, I was heavy into basketball card collecting, playing basketball in the alley behind my parents' apt and the video game, NBA Live. So to hear Rod Strickland in a rap song put Raekwon on the map for me. I wasn't hardcore into Wu like many other kids my age, but I was always a supporter. I have all of Rae's solo albums, but it wasn’t until later in his career when I became a real fan, and eventually got to know him professionally through interviews, and then personally through CS.
When did you meet DJ Babu?
I discovered DJ Babu right before my 18th birthday, and he immediately inspired me to buy turntables and learn how to scratch and all that... I was running this website in college called Soundslam.com, and he was my second or third interview for that right around the time Dilated Peoples released their 3rd album, Neighborhood Watch and he dropped Duck Season Vol. 1. I don't think I met him though until years later after interviewing him several times. DJ Rude One had a party series called The Goodness. And Rude was bringing legendary DJs through. I would beg him to put me on lineup with some of the guys I looked up to. When Rude told me he had Babs booked, I knew I had to be on that card. I worked it out so Babu could stay an extra couple days and do a Closed Session with us. I think that was the first time I actually met him, but truly, I don't remember at this point. DJ Babu and Dilated Peoples were one of the main reasons I got into DJing.
How did you pair up Babu and Raekwon?
Babu ended up sending us a ton of beats for our Closed Sessions Vol.2 mixtape. Babu was also a big fan of Raekwon and never had a record with him. Rae was on his emcee wishlist so to speak. When we had the session booked with the Chef, my first call was to Babu. He sent through some new heat specifically for the occasion. As soon as Raekwon came to the studio, I knew I was going to make this collab happen. Being able to pair them up was one of my biggest hip-hop fan moments. The documentary is dope because Raekwon tells the story of meeting Babu back in LA while hanging out with Limp Bizkit. Before we released the documentary I was with Babu in Austin and I showed him the rough cut, he laughed and said, "that's a great story, but that wasn't me, he must be talking about DJ Lethal."
What was it like being able to work with Raekwon The Chef in the studio?
Man, it was amazing. From Day 1 of Closed Sessions, we all made a list of artists we wanted to work with and Raekwon was one of them. It was really fun, I was young and had no idea of what I was doing, but I just wanted to be able to work with my heroes. As much as it was fun, it was also very stressful, when you’re working with an artist of that caliber you do not want to mess up.
One thing you took away from working with The Chef?
I took away the mentality of never resting on your laurels. He always talked about how he was going to determine when he wasn’t relevant anymore, not anyone else. Raekwon taught me the importance of never stopping, stay consistent and stay at it.