I usually don't even pretend to be some unbiased, objective "journalist." I do this because I love hip-hop in a way that defies logic and objectivity, not because I'm interested in creating mathematical formulas to describe music. Still, I do try to maintain some level of composure, but this right here? These Raekwon videos right here? AAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm excited about these videos in a way that could only be described as outright rap nerdery.
When we recently say down with Raekwon we asked him to breakdown his verse on his classic "Criminology," and that was amazing, but The Chef being The Chef, he refused to be contained to a mere verse breakdown and proceeded to drop classic story after classic story, stories that were way too good to be relegated to outtake status. So please, join me for a moment...
Staying on "Criminology," how about the story behind how Rae and Ghost decided to kick off the track with that Scarface sample, coupled with The Chef revealing that "Criminology" was the track that inspired Ghost to go through his robes-only period and rocking the very first Jesus piece chain in hip-hop history?
See, I told you that'd be crazy. Plus, I just acquired a new life motto, "Stay in the robes!" I think we would all be served well to live life like we're staying in the robes. As long as we're digging into "Criminology" we might as well keep going deeper. This time around, Rae talks about walking into RZA's crib and calling dibs first on the "Criminology" beat. If Method Man or Ghost or any other Wu-Tang member had happened to hear the beat first it could have easily been their's, but that song felt destined to be Raekwon's. Plus, some great insights into Wu-Tang's early recording process, including how RZA would spend weeks at a time without leaving the house, completely dedicated to making music.
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Rolling on, so many people look to Raekwon as a legend and inspiration that it's really powerful to listen to him talk about the legends he looked up to, how much he and all the other members of Wu-Tang studied legends like Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. Plus, how RZA and GZA really were the drivers behind the group's early creation.
One more for today: I don't know if this story has ever been talked about before, I'd have to imagine it has been, but I'd certainly never heard it. Apparently right after the release of 36 Chambers, RZA's basement flooded and hours and hours of music was lost, in Rae's estimation over 500 beats that we've never heard and never will hear. Thinking about all that lost music, how the entire history of hip-hop could be different if that music had come out, is mind-blowing, but so is The Chef's perspective on it. Maybe that music wasn't meant to be, maybe it was the motivation they needed to get back in the studio and record even better stuff.
I don't expect everyone to freak the fuck out about these stories like I am, but I know for a fact that there's also no shortage of people out there like me that are going to eat these up like Rick Ross making a late night Wing Stop run. And if you really can't get enough, you're in luck. We're going to drop another package of videos tomorrow, this time focused more on Rae's thoughts on hip-hop's current climate. Holy Moses I love hip-hop so much. Wu-Tang forever.
[Nathan S. is the managing editor of The DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. He also occasionally talks on podcasts/radio/TV. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.]