Update from Canoe: Raekwon discusses setting up shop in Toronto [Article]
Check out this Ice H20 update from QMI Agency, a Quebecor Media Division. Jane Stevenson sits down with Wu-Tang’s Raekwon to discuss setting up shop in Canada, his first signee JD Era and his love for Toronto.
Toronto, ON – Wu-Tang’s in the house. Literally. Raekwon (the Chef), a member of hugely influential rappers Wu-Tang Clan, just opened the Toronto office of his new Canadian label, Ice H20, and is hoping to find the next big hip-hop act to unleash on the world.
The timing couldn’t be better given Toronto rapper Drake’s sophomore album, Take Care, debuted at No. 1 in North America last week.
“What brought me here is because of the fact the city is so rich and filled with talent that’s being overlooked,” said Raekwon, 41, wearing a Toronto Blue Jays baseball hat and holding court in his Ice H20 offices on the city’s Yonge Street on Monday afternoon after an official launch party last Thursday night in Toronto’s club district.
“Alright you got Drake who made it but there’s still more people here. And if you really look at the table chart of Canadian artists that made it out of here, the majority of them, you could say were successful. Avril Lavigne. Melanie Fiona. Kardinal Offishall. Justin Bieber, my little nephew. So my thing is we want come in and diffuse anything that’s not real, anything that doesn’t associate with real hip-hop. We want to be the one that says, ‘Yo, we want to help build and build a bigger and better industry.’ I’m just like. ‘Yo with talent from Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec,’ who’s paying attention?’ The Drake factor is definitely a big factor. It’s a thing to respect. It’s like Drake being Wu-Tang back in the days for us. That’s who he is now.”
Raekwon — born Corey Woods in Staten Island, New York — says Toronto reminds him of New York City and one of his business partners in the new label is from the city’s Jane and Finch area.
“I have a relationship with him for almost 20 years, and he would always feed me information and show me places that I needed to be at to understand the culture. This city has so many great things attached to it because you have a multi-cultural city that’s talented.”
The first signing to Ice H20 is Toronto’s JD Era, whose debut will be released in 2012.
Raekwon discovered the rapper about a year ago.
“As far as the MC-ing level his name came up. And for me I was blown away from the talent. So I invited him to come out to Winnipeg when I was doing a show and said, ‘Yo, I want to pay for your flight. I just want to meet you. I just want to see you, whether I do business with you or not.’ And the energy was great. I’ve seen that he was a diverse MC where he was able to still make hardcore music and still know how make song music. Be a writer as well as a rapper.”
The final test was putting him in a recording studio in Toronto.
“We got him, how can I say, in training. But he’s in a great space right now. Next year, we’re counting on him coming through and making an impact but it’s about having your business together first. You being an artist that people can say, ‘Yo, you’re paying your dues.’ You can’t just come in and run to the top.”
FINDING A NEW HOME
Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon resides in L.A, and Atlanta, and now T.O.
In addition to opening the Ice H20 office of his new Canadian label in Toronto, he bought a condo down near the city’s waterfront,
He says his children — a 16-year-old daughter, nine-year-old son, and a two-year-old girl — love T.O.
“Down by the Raptors building (the Air Canada Centre), I love that area, I’m up in the sky, I get to see Toronto and look at it and think about all the visions that I have for this city. I wanted to be here like that. I wanted to be hands on. And I bring my kids here and they love it. Toronto’s a beautiful city.”
Raekwon is also working on his next solo record, with Kanye West among his collaborators, a possible Wu-Tang Clan 20th anniversary tour and CD in 2012, and a non-traditional biopic about his life called C.R.E.A.M. starring Erykah Badu and Cee-Lo Green as his parents.
“You know the things I went through as a youngster, coming into the business, all the good, the bad and the ugly that came,” he said. “I’d had a rough life. I grew up single parent. My moms she was like a father to me. Now that’s like my best friend. It touches on the inner-city kid with a couple of unfortunate friends that had the biggest dreams in the world.”
By: Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency