As Raekwon told Red Bull Academy Radio in an interview earlier this year, his latest release, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (named after Gordon Liu’s 1981 martial arts flick), addresses the longtime infighting between himself and his group, Wu-Tang Clan. Metaphorically, the “hip-hopera” pits the group’s collaborative roots against ever-present conflicts that disjointed the clan. But, musically, it seems Raekwon’s making peace with himself and, hopefully, his fellow Wu-mates.
“It’s almost like ‘disciplined versus egotistical,’ ” Raekwon says of the album’s concept during a phone interview from his tour stop in Seattle.
In Raekwon’s analogy, “Shaolin” represents Staten Island, N.Y., where Wu originated in 1992, and the disciplined outlook the group used to embody.
Conversely, the “vs. Wu-Tang” represents ego taking over, possibly after selling gold and platinum records or, possibly, from members falling out with producer RZA over artistic differences, caustic words spouted off in interviews and money supposedly coming up short after 2007’s Rock the Bells tour.
Raekwon headlines Live Loud Industries’ Tri-State Hip Hop Fest this Friday at Covington’s Mad Hatter. Go here to read Mildred C. Fallen's full interview.