Brooklyn Radio’s Lara Gamble (not the woman in the pictures) got some time to chat with hip-hop veteran Raekwon down on the LES about his invitation to headline this year’s Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival 10th Anniversary show. We learned that The Chef was born in Brooklyn, and he was happy to give an update on what he’s got going on these days but played it cool and kept quiet about what to expect from his set at BHF ’14.

How did you become involved with the tenth anniversary of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival?

I received a call from some people, and I guess they knew that I’m originally from Brooklyn. They said, “This is where stars are born at.” You know, I never had the opportunity to do the Brooklyn show, so I just received that call. I was in the studio that night, and I got the call. I was like, “Oh shit. They want me to come out to Brooklyn.” I barely ever do shows in Brooklyn, and I was just overwhelmed with the opportunity to be on it.

So Brooklyn Bodega reached out to you directly?

They reached out. They said, “Yo, we want The Chef.” So I’m like, “I’ll take it. What do I do? Jump on the train to get there?” I’m excited though. It’s an honor though to do anything in New York City that represents where we come from. But Brooklyn is a little bit special to me because that’s my home front. I’m a Shaolin dude. Don’t get me wrong. Still Shaolin every way you put it, but BK is where my mom brought me out into the world. Kings County kid, you know?

How do you feel about what’s going on in hip-hop nowadays?

I think everybody is just making great music in their own little way. Of course, there’s different styles of music being made. My thing is, if you’re making music that soothes the minds of people who want to listen to it, it don’t matter what kind of hip-hop it is if it attracts the people that love music. My thing is the music is being made. Now, is it being made organically or authentically? I could question that because a lot of things do sound the same, but I still respect the growth part. Cats is out there working hard. It probably ain’t about authenticity. It’s probably about entertainment to that person or to that group. So my thing is, at the end of the day, I still respect it. It’s just that everybody has their own kind of music. I like where hip-hop is at today.

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Photo Credit to Dmitry Chislov.

Are there any surprises fans can expect from your upcoming performance in July?

Absolutely, you know what I mean. I can’t give all the goods out, but you’re going to see something happen in a minute. Just get ready. Mmhm.

What’s going on with ICEH20 Records?

ICEH20 Records, you know what I mean. Right now, we basically just you taking our time with the new development artists that we’re working with. It’s so important that artists understand the business and understand how to make the music that makes sense to the business and makes sense to hip-hop. So, everybody is in training right now. They in basic training. Of course, if I put my hands on somebody, and I say, “You talented, you great,” that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gonna win. That just tells you from my perspective that I believe in you. But then there’s rules and regulations to this business on how you win. My thing is, I want my empire to gain that respect on that level of being successful and not just doing it because they assume that, “I’m attached to Raekwon. It’s easy to get in this business.” So everybody right now is a work in progress until I say, “Yo, it’s a go.” Or, to the stacks, “You know what? You look like you need to play on the field today and go to that next level.” But right now, everybody is just in basic training. We’re just training all of them.

Who are you listening to these days?

I’m listening to the radio. I don’t listen to nobody particularly in the car or by myself because I try not to indulge with it too much. I just respect it. You know what I mean? If I like something, hey, I like it. I get with it. But when I’m listening to my own music, I might be listening to slow music. I’m a big R&B guy. That’s why you’ll always see me come out with R&B rap songs and certain shit that I love because it keeps me calm. It keeps me calm, my mind is fresh, I can think, but when it comes to listening to everybody else, I just go to my jam and work. You know what I mean? Period.

How is the fam?

The family is beautiful.

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