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Raekwon at the Pitchfork Music Festival.jpg
Raekwon at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival
Background information
Birth nameCorey Woods
Also known asLex Diamonds, Raekwon The Chef, Sha Raider
Born (1970-01-12) January 12, 1970 (age 50)
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Origin Staten Island, New York City, U.S.
Genres Hip hop
  • Rapper
  • actor
Years active1991–present
Associated acts Wu-Tang Clan, Wu-Tang Killa Beez, Fat Joe, Scram Jones, Capone-N-Noreaga, Kanye West, Davina (R&B singer)

Corey Woods [2] (born January 12, 1970), [3] [4] better known by his stage name Raekwon ( /rˈkwɒn/ ), is an American rapper and a member of Wu-Tang Clan. He released his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... in 1995 to universal critical acclaim and has since recorded numerous solo albums, as well as continuing to work with Wu-Tang and providing an extensive number of guest contributions to other hip hop artists' works. He is the founder of his own label ICEH20 Records.


Raekwon has been cited as a pioneer of mafioso rap. [5] In 2007, the editors of About.com placed him on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007). [6]

The Miami New Times described Raekwon's music as being "street epics" that are "straightforward yet linguistically rich universes like a gangsta Iliad ." [7]

Early life

Raekwon stated in an interview posted on the Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM YouTube channel on July 30, 2020 that he and Ghostface Killah attended Junior High School together on Staten Island. [8]

Raekwon attended New Dorp High School, where he became friends with Remedy, Method Man and Inspectah Deck. [9]

In a 2009 interview, Raekwon stated that the name "'Raekwon' came from part of the Nation of Islam — The 'Five Percent Nation'— when I was a young kid." [10]

Music career

Wu-Tang Clan

Before Woods joined the Wu-Tang Clan his rap name was Sha Raider. Woods joined Wu-Tang Clan, an originally nine-member hip-hop group that later added rapper Cappadonna, based in the Staten Island and Brooklyn borough of New York City, in 1992. He performed under the stage name Raekwon The Chef as well as the aliases Shallah Raekwon, Louis Rich and Lex Diamonds. [11] Wu-Tang Clan debuted one year later with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) . Singles from the album included "Protect Ya Neck" and "C.R.E.A.M.", the latter of which reached #8 on the Billboard rap chart. [12] Wu-Tang Forever followed in 1997 and was certified four times platinum by the RIAA, quadruple the certification given Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). [13] Alongside other solo albums by its members, Wu-Tang continued recording as a group, releasing The W in 2000, Iron Flag in 2001, and 8 Diagrams in 2007. [11]

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...

In 1994, Raekwon signed a solo deal with Loud Records and released his debut single "Heaven & Hell" for the soundtrack to the movie Fresh . His first solo LP, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... , was released August 1, 1995 to rave reviews, though not to as much commercial success as fellow Wu-Tang member Method Man's Tical . [14] Nonetheless, the album was immediately deemed a hip-hop classic. [15] According to Steve Huey of AllMusic, "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... contained a narrative album format revolving around cocaine trafficking, criminal activity, and a rise through the ranks of the illegal industry." RZA added, "It was always like a crime mafia story for me." [16] Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah appeared on over half of the album's tracks, with Wu-Tang member RZA producing the album in its entirety. [17] Apart from working alongside RZA on Staten Island, Raekwon and Ghostface went to Barbados and Miami to write lyrics for the album. [8]

Raekwon insists Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was aimed at listeners who could relate to the underground, street culture. In an interview with HipHop DX, Rae said, "This album was just the definition of everything that was in front of us. So where we was trying to go, we was trying to get out the hood. We wanted to buy the most expensive cars and jewelry and different things like that. So that’s why I guess I always call the album...Only Built 4 Cuban Linx because it was only built for a certain lifestyle or people that understood that language. But eventually, it would break off to people looking at it as a movie and respecting it saying, ‘Yo, wow! This is authentic. This is something that never been done before’...So, I just wanted to give the world something that they could feel is brand new, it's different, but it's real." Cuban Linx debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It sold roughly 130,000 copies the first week - eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in October 1995, two months after its release. [18]

On August 1, 2020, Elliot Wilson, of TIDAL and Rap Radar, announced Raekwon will be releasing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 3 soon. [18]

Immobilarity and The Lex Diamond Story

After Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Raekwon appeared on a track by the R&B group Allure from the group's self-titled debut in 1997. [19] He also appeared on Fat Joe's song "John Blaze" alongside Nas, Jadakiss, and Big Pun; "John Blaze" also had a music video. [20] Raekwon's next effort, Immobilarity , came out in 1999 to mixed reviews, which were mainly attributed to the absence of RZA and Ghostface Killah. [14] The Lex Diamond Story followed in 2003 on Universal Records, to mixed reviews as well (generally lukewarm critical reviews and wildly varying public reviews) and moderate success. Raekwon later voiced his distaste for the album's lack of promotion and budget and vowed that future releases would not suffer the same fate. [21]

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II

Raekwon in 2008. Rae gotta get a plate now.JPG
Raekwon in 2008.

Raekwon planned to release the long-delayed sequel to his debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II in 2007 through Aftermath Entertainment. The album was informally executively produced by Busta Rhymes, whom Raekwon cited as getting him in the "Cuban Linx mindset", and RZA, with RZA handling most of the production. Dr. Dre, Scram Jones, and J Dilla were other producers that were announced early on as working on the album. RZA explained the collaboration between him and Dr. Dre as "yin and yang" when it came to their styles. [ citation needed ]

Raekwon and EMI both confirmed at one point that Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt. II would be released in the summer of 2009 with EMI serving as the distribution label for the album, which was officially released on Raekwon's ICEH2O label. However, Raekwon and EMI later announced that the album would be pushed back to September 8, 2009 due to sample clearance issues, and the leak of a song from the album entitled "Surgical Gloves." [22]

On September 8, 2009, Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt. II was released after many delays. The album features many Wu-Tang members and affiliates, as well as Slick Rick, Jadakiss, Busta Rhymes, Beanie Sigel and more. On September 28, 2009, Raekwon was named the #10 Hottest MC in the game by MTV. He also converted to Islam in 2009. [23]

In December 2009, major hip hop site HipHopDx released their 2009 Awards, with Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt. II being chosen as 'Album of the Year'. Dx described it as "...the Hip Hop equivalent to The Godfather 2 , with Rae as revitalized as Marlon was...". In addition, Raekwon was selected as 'Emcee of the Year' (fellow New Yorker Nas had won in 2008). Their staff justified this pick with this description of Raekwon's career in 2009:

Raekwon brought it back to lyrical, dope rap. He released an album that spoke to teens, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, and beyond. Without compromising, the Chef made an edgy Hip Hop record that refused to bastardize the catalog he laid down 15 years ago. On top of that, Rae (along with Ghostface) was a go-to for numerous rappers making albums, ranging from the Playaz Circle to Jadakiss to BK One. That's beyond real, as was a year filled with performing in arenas, clubs and even churches. When it came to mastering the ceremony, Rae had 'em all following the leader. [24]


Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang

After the critical and relative commercial success of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, Raekwon collaborated with Method Man and Ghostface Killah for Wu-Massacre , a short trio album designed to showcase unity within the group. Following this release, Raekwon resurrected talk of Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang , a project announced in 2007, originally planned as a Wu-Tang album, minus RZA, due to his response to the previous group album 8 Diagrams . Raekwon forwarded his projects continuously through his growing label Icewater. He both worked on his own project while signing other underground artists.

Although not a Wu-Tang Clan project, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang was released in March 2011, serving as Raekwon's fifth solo LP. As originally planned, RZA did not participate on the project, [25] however, several other Wu-Tang members made appearances, as well as Black Thought, Nas and Rick Ross, [26] among others. Raekwon revealed that he intends on eventually releasing a third installment to the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… albums. [27] [28]

Lost Jewlry, Fly International Luxurious Art, The Wild, and Present

In 2012, Raekwon launched his own record label, Ice H2O Records. Raekwon announced on November 30, 2012 that he will soon release an EP titled Lost Jewlry . [29] On December 20, he released "Never Can Say Goodbye", [30] which did not end up on the EP. Lost Jewlry was released on January 15, 2013. It features guest appearances from Maino and Freddie Gibbs, as well as production from Scram Jones, among others. [31]

On January 1, 2013, Raekwon announced that the title of his new album will be F.I.L.A., which is an acronym for Fly International Luxurious Art and a release date to come in the second quarter of 2013. [32] [33] He would later specify a release month of September 2013. [34] Following the release of the first single "All About You", he confirmed that the album would be released in January 2014, however it was not released. It was eventually released on April 28, 2015. In November 2016, Raekwon announced a new album was complete. [35]

On March 24, 2017, Raekwon released a studio album, The Wild, his first without collaborations from Wu-Tang members. Critical reception was positive, with Pitchfork saying the album was stronger than Fly with its "bloated roster". [36] Consequence of Sound agreed, saying The Wild was largely a return to form by Raekwon, with fewer features from other artists, and more focus on Raekwon's longstanding style, while keeping the "maximalist modern production" of Fly. [37]

Raekwon's cultural relevance perseveres in 2020 – he was featured on the intro track for the WWCD compilation from hip-hop supergroup, Griselda. [38]

Personal life

Raekwon is a Muslim, having converted to Islam in 2009. [39]


Studio albums

Collaboration albums

Related Research Articles

Wu-Tang Clan American rap group

Wu-Tang Clan is an American hip hop group formed in Staten Island, New York City in 1992, originally composed of RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa. An important act in the East Coast hip hop and hardcore hip hop styles, Wu-Tang Clan are regarded as a highly influential group in hip hop. Their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang , released in 1993, is considered one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time.

Ghostface Killah American rapper and actor from New York

Dennis David Coles, better known by his stage name Ghostface Killah, is an American rapper, songwriter and actor and lead member of the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. After the group achieved breakthrough success in the aftermath of Enter the Wu-Tang , the members went on to pursue solo careers to varying levels of success. Ghostface Killah debuted his solo career with Ironman, which was well received by music critics, in 1996. He has enjoyed continued success in the years that have followed, releasing critically acclaimed albums such as Supreme Clientele (2000) and Fishscale (2006). His stage name was taken from one of the characters in the 1979 kung fu film Mystery of Chessboxing. He is the founder of his own record label, Starks Enterprises.

Inspectah Deck

Jason Richard Hunter, better known by his stage name Inspectah Deck, is an American rapper, producer, and actor. He is a member of the groups Wu-Tang Clan and Czarface.

<i>Immobilarity</i> 1999 studio album by Raekwon

Immobilarity is the second studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan-member Raekwon, as a follow-up to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.... It was released in November 1999 on Loud Records, and peaked in the Top 10 of the US album charts. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on December 20, 1999.

Derek Harris, better known by his stage name True Master, is an American hip-hop producer and occasional rapper known for his affiliation with the Wu-Tang Clan.

Mathematics (producer) Rap music producer

Mathematics, also known as Allah Mathematics, is a hip hop producer and DJ for the Wu-Tang Clan and its solo and affiliate projects. He designed the Wu-Tang Clan logo.

<i>Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II</i> 2009 studio album by Raekwon

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II is the fourth studio album by American hip hop recording artist and Wu-Tang Clan-member Raekwon, released September 8, 2009, on Ice H2O/EMI Records in the United States. The album experienced numerous delays to its release due to Raekwon's approach of continual re-writing, as well as distribution issues with his record labels. Serving as the sequel to his critically acclaimed debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995), Pt. II maintains many of the themes covered on its predecessor, and features guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members, as well as Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss and Beanie Sigel.

The Wu-Elements are a production team closely affiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan. A loosely knit group, it consists of five producers who typically support main producer RZA in handling production duties for Wu-Tang group, solo and affiliate releases.

Can It Be All So Simple

"Can It Be All So Simple" is the fourth and final single on Wu-Tang Clan's critically acclaimed debut album Enter the Wu-Tang . It features production from RZA that samples Gladys Knight & the Pips' cover of "The Way We Were". The song reached number nine on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart, number twenty four on the Hot Rap Tracks chart and number eighty two on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

Heaven & Hell (Raekwon song)

"Heaven & Hell" is the solo debut single by Wu-Tang Clan rapper Raekwon, released as the lead single from his solo debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.... It features fellow Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and backing vocals from Wu-Tang affiliate singer Blue Raspberry. Allmusic stated "everything culminates in "Heaven & Hell" and its longing for redemption"

<i>Wu-Massacre</i> 2010 studio album by Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon

Wu-Massacre is a collaboration studio album by American rappers and Wu-Tang Clan members Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, released March 30, 2010 on Def Jam Recordings. Production for the album was handled by several hip hop producers, including RZA, Allah Mathematics, Scram Jones, Emile, Ty Fyffe, BT and Digem Tracks Productions.

<i>Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang</i> 2011 studio album by Raekwon

Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang is the fifth studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan-member Raekwon, released March 7, 2011, on Ice H20 and EMI Records. Guests for the album include Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Lloyd Banks, Method Man, Nas, and Rick Ross, among others.

Wu-Tang Clan anthology

The Wu-Tang Clan is a New York City–based hip-hop musical group, consisting of ten American rappers: RZA, GZA, Raekwon, U-God, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. This list chronologically displays the albums of each group member including collaboration and side group albums. This list does not include compilation albums, mixtapes, or extended plays.

<i>A Better Tomorrow</i> (album) 2014 studio album by Wu-Tang Clan

A Better Tomorrow is the sixth studio album by American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. The album was released on December 2, 2014, by Warner Bros. Records. The album was supported by the singles "Keep Watch", "Ron O'Neal" and "Ruckus in B Minor". A Better Tomorrow received generally mixed reviews from music critics. The album debuted at number 29 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 24,386 copies in its first week of release.

<i>Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...</i> 1995 studio album by Raekwon

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is the debut studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon, released on August 1, 1995, by Loud Records and RCA Records. The album was loosely composed to play like a film with Raekwon as the "star," fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah as the "guest-star," and producer RZA as the "director." It features appearances from every member of the Wu-Tang Clan except for Ol' Dirty Bastard. The album also features debut appearances for affiliates Cappadonna and Blue Raspberry. It also features an acclaimed guest appearance from rapper Nas, which marked the first collaboration with a non-affiliated artist on a Wu-Tang related album.

<i>Ironman</i> (Ghostface Killah album) 1996 studio album by Ghostface Killah

Ironman is the debut solo album by American rapper Ghostface Killah, released on October 29, 1996, by Epic Records. It was produced by fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA. The album's music draws prominently on blaxploitation films and soul samples. More so than on other solo debuts from the group's members, Ironman contains references to the Nation of Gods and Earths.

<i>Supreme Clientele</i> 2000 studio album by Ghostface Killah

Supreme Clientele is the second studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah, released on February 8, 2000 by Epic Records. The album showcases Ghostface's signature up-tempo, stream-of-consciousness rhyme style, and features guest appearances from Cappadonna, GZA, Masta Killa, Method Man, Raekwon, Redman, RZA, U-God, and others. It features affiliates of what would become members of Theodore Unit and T.M.F. Supreme Clientele contains a large amount of production from group member RZA, who also re-worked and remixed beats from other producers involved, as a means to create a unified and cohesive sound for the album.

Soul Temple Records is an American record label founded in 2012 by hip hop recording artist RZA and Bob Perry after the release of the RZA directed The Man with the Iron Fists. The label's first release was that album's soundtrack. The label has since released studio albums by Wu-Tang Clan members Ghostface Killah and U-God. All albums released on the label are executive produced by RZA.


Darryl Hill, better known by his stage name Cappadonna, is an American rapper. He is a member of the hip-hop collective the Wu-Tang Clan and is a member of the rap group Theodore Unit together with Ghostface Killah.


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