On the Goe: Catch a piece of music history when Raekwon comes to town
You are witnessing history. I know that sounds like a cheesy generic rap lyric but in this case, it might be the truest statement I have ever written.
When Raekwon takes the Mesa Theater and Club stage on Thursday, March 29, he will easily be the greatest MC to ever play a show in Grand Junction. With every braggadocio step, Raekwon the Chef carries with him a long and significant history of hip-hop.
From the early 1990s heyday of gangsta rap to the hip-pop crossover of today, Raekwon has been a part of it all.
Let me set the scene for you: Firehouse Studio, New York City. It’s 1992. Under a cloud of smoke you have the RZA, the GZA, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Raekwon. It’s the killa bees, collectively known as the Wu-Tang Clan.
They are recording one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).”
Undoubtedly a classic kung-fu movie plays in the background while Raekwon records his verse for “C.R.E.A.M.” (cash rules everything around me).
“A young youth, yo rockin’ the gold tooth, ‘Lo goose / Only way, I begin to G’ off was drug loot.”
The song tells the story of a young Raekwon growing up in New York City. No big deal. It’s just the bellwether recording for all future East Coast gangster rap.
Raekwon is the Shaolin warrior poet of the Staten Island underground. His rhymes slice and dice from directions you can’t anticipate. They feature heavily on the Wu-Tang albums and each member’s solo projects.
As a solo artist, Raekwon is no slouch. He’s one of the most successful and well-respected members of Wu-Tang. Often credited as the godfather of Mafioso rap, Raekwon’s influence can be heard in Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep and Jay-Z recordings. In fact, anyone rapping today about the inner city hustle owes a little something to the Chef.
The whole lineage of mobster rappers starts with 1995’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” The album plays like a gangster film a la “Scarface,” with Raekwon playing the role of Tony Montana. Just like the film, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” plays up the same themes: drugs, sex, violence and ruin.
The influence of that album and the sequel, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt II,” cannot be understated. Americans love their outlaw gangster stories. So much so, when “Pt II” was released in 2009, it outsold the mighty Jay-Z’s “The Blue Print 3” and became iTunes’ No. 1 album of the week.
When you see Raekwon perform live, you’re seeing 20 years of hip-hop heritage. He’s a game changer.
Rappers separate themselves from the pack by their flow style and swagger. Raekwon is a kung fu, mobster hustler. An absolute one-of-a-kind.
If you’re lucky enough to be at the Mesa Theater when the lights turn low and the beat drops, know that Raekwon will bring da mother ... uhm, ruckus. Fair warning: Be en garde. He just might let you try his Wu-Tang style.