In late 2006, Wu-Tang Clan founding member Raekwon reportedly signed with Dr. Dreís Aftermath Records, adding to the anticipation for his long-delayed fourth solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. With the good doctor at the helm, The Chefís sequel appeared to be on the right path to living up to his 1995 classic debut. Word of RZA and the late great J Dilla contributing beats as well added to the buzz. But almost a year later, thereís still no sign of the album, which some have said has been complete for months. After two disappointing LPsó1999ís Immobilarity and 2003ís The Lex Diamond Storyóthe success of his next project could play a major role in Raeís career.
Before Cuban Linx II hits stores, Rae will work with his Wu-Tang brother once again on Wuís next reunion LP, The 8 Diagrams, which is slotted for a November release. XXLMag.com caught up with Lex Diamonds during the West Coast leg of the Rock the Bells tour to get the lowdown on whatís been holding up the next purple tape, the science behind The 8 Diagrams and his relationship with Ghostface.
Whatís the current status of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II?
Iím just leaniní right now. I gotta feel comfortable with whatever distribution place Iím gonna put it out on. I gotta feel that [my] house is a home, and not feel like Iím just giving it to some muthafuckas who really donít understand it. I really worked hard on it and I wanna have the best push that I can have. Itís like, right now, these companies tryiní to puppet a nigga to make a nigga believe or do what they feel is real. I know, in all reality, this right here is a different level of respect. When you think of this record, you think of Scarface 2. Therefore, it has to get treated with that kinda power. You just canít take my record and say, ďYo, weíre going to throw it out in three months,Ē and nobody knows itís coming. Iím not allowing that on such a classic project. Iím not selling myself short for nothiní. I ainít asking to get my dick sucked. Iím asking a nigga to just treat me accordingly and respect what Iím dealing with. If you coming up with all these excuses and acting like itís a new day and all this shit, and I gotta suck dick? Nah, my mouth is too little to suck dick, pa.
So Aftermath/Interscope Records isnít giving you creative control?
Like I said, we ainít them type of rappers where a nigga can control what weíre dealing with. We gonna work as a team, but I donít got no bosses thatís goní tell me how this record needs to be made. Before I give this shit to a sucker ass label, Iíll throw this shit out on the Internet and tell niggas, ďYo, thatís yours, man.Ē If I feel like niggas is playing me, Iíll throw that shit out on my own, man. This one is for the people. It ainít for no bullshit, Hollywood purposes. Iím not sucking my own dick. Iím just recognizing the power that I got on this record.
If the product is so dope, whatís the problem in getting it out on the streets?
I donít even get caught up in it like that. It ainít nobodyís problem. I guess it ainít pop off at the moment ícause [Dr.] Dre is busy. And then I look [at] the reality of that [and] itís like, if a nigga is too busy to stop and see what Iím dealing [with], how much does it really mean to a nigga? I donít give a fuck how busy you is. If we goní work on something that people lookiní at as a classic, we gotta respect each otherís movements. Iím a big fan of Dre, but sometimes I may get spooked ícause itís like, yo, you doiní a lot of shit my nigga. So thatís why that ainít really kick off at the moment we wanted it to. At the end of the day, Iím a big Dre fan, Dre is a big Rae fan, [but] we both have to feel comfortable. We donít wanna fuck our friendship up [by] doing wack business. Itís about communication.
Do you regret signing with Aftermath, then?
Nah, I donít regret [it]. I never got to the pointÖ a lot of shit was based on hype. We was working the paperwork out, but I never signed nothiní because I gotta feel real good about what weíre dealing with. It was feeling good for a second, but it gotta feel real good for me to sign it, baby.
What if you guys canít resolve this issue? Is there a breaking point where youíll just put it out on your own?
My breaking point is definitely [next] summer. I was going to do it last year, but the timing wasnít right. We had to get a lot of shit cleared and all that. [But] I donít ever wanna rush something and just deal with it ícause people is rushing me. Thatís like somebody is rushing you to run out there and give somebody some crack, and the next thing you know, itís hot outside and you get bagged. Like, yo, I gotta feel comfortable but at the same time, serve the people. Nigga been in the game too long to let a ********** talk him out of what he knows is real. When I came in this shit, I was dictating what I knew. Now you trying to dictate it for me? And you talkiní some other shit? It donít add up, baby. Iím a G for real. That G stands for general. Iím not no fuckiní goofball. [So] itís gonna strike in the summertime [of í08] by hook or by crook. If itís on a label, itís on a label. If it comes out through the Internet, youíre gonna have it. So I ainít even worried about it.
Letís talk about the new Wu-Tang Clan album, The 8 Diagrams. You guys have been playing some of the new tracks during your European tour, specifically the ODB tribute. Was it real emotional for you all to record that song?
In my eyes, we should have been put [that song] out around the time we was mourning. But RZA, he decided to put it on the [album]. Itís a renaissance record. It ainít necessarily trying to be on a sad note. This is more like a real memorial tribute to him. Brothers speaking they mind, saying, ď[We] miss you Russell.Ē íCause now itís about who he really is. Before all of that other shit, his old earth birthed him as Russell. So you might have a brother like Inspectah Deck say something in a rhyme like, ďI miss you Russell/Hope you forgive me, Dirty.Ē Just speaking from the heart, man. Itís well written. The record is going to be on the Wu album as a bonus cut. If it wasnít for him, we wouldnít be doing it this long like this. He had a lot to do with our success. I donít give a fuck how wild he was. I donít even wanna get all crazy over this shit right now. Fuck around and have me start tearing out this bitch. Overall, the record is something that we wanted to let the world know how we felt about him. The beat is crazy and itís something thatís going to make you vibe, open your mind up and remember him.
The diehard fans were worried that Ghostface wasnít going to be heavily involved in the Wu album. Do you think people blew that out of proportion?
People make it bigger than what it is. Ghost already knows what he gotta do because thatís his backbone. Sometimes shit probably doesnít get the chance to pan out ícause everybody got different things they dealing with. But itís never intentional not to get on a Wu record. Come on, I could be mad busy with other shit, but to just act like Iím not getting on a Wu-Tang album, thatís just pure dumb shit to me. So I think a lot of people misunderstood the perception of whatever was going on at the time when Ghost wasnít available. But he knows better. He knows what he gotta do. We all recognize that with whatever we do collectively, itís for the strength of the people.
Is it frustrating that the fans always see you and Ghost as one unit and expect you two to constantly collaborate?
Yeah, [ícause] when we came into this business, we told you we all had something different to offer. So as far as people loving what they love, hey, itís all real. We respect that, but at the end of the day, heís a grown man [and] Iím a grown man. When itís time to do other things outside of doing work with one another, thatís just what it is. People gotta get it through their head and know that this is what niggas already said from the door it was going to be. I love the fact of rhyming with my brother, but hey, if it donít happen, it donít happen. The show still goes on, man. We wanna be able to get a lilí bit of Rae and Ghost together. Then, get a lilí bit of Rae, then a lilí bit of Ghost. Thatís three fucking pieces of meals right there. So why not eat it? You ainít always gotta eat marble cake. Eat a fuckiní lemon cake or a pineapple cake and cool out. But thatís to the diehards that really donít get it. All you doing is getting different elements. Take it for what it is. We donít wanna bore yíall niggas out. So if youíre a real fan, don, donít deal with favoritism, just deal with the reality of it.