It’s no secret that Hip Hop icon Raekwon is a huge film fanatic, as he and his Wu-Tang Clan family have boasted an array of influences in their music from movies, comic books and video games since they emerged on the scene nearly two decades ago. Now 41, Raekwon is preparing for the release of his fifth studio album Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, slated for release on March 8 via his own Ice H20 imprint and EMI Records.
Given his vast knowledge of movies, we asked The Chef to give UrbLife.com his recipe for the perfect Top 7 cinematic line-up! Read on as Raekwon tells us about his personal classics!
1. Once Upon A Time In America
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Starring: Robert DeNiro, James Woods, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Treat Williams, Danny Aiello, Tuesday Weld, William Forsythe
This is definitely one of my top movies. It’s a real long movie, it has a lot of principles in it. It starts off with childhood friends with dreams of being on top. I feel like that story is so similar to my raising, and how I came up – that’s how we were feeling. That movie really implemented a lot of things that takes place in the neighborhoods all over the world.
Directed by: Brian De Palma, Screenplay by Oliver Stone
Starring: Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
It was definitely a tale of a cat coming out of nowhere, with dreams of being big. Scarface taught you how important family was, and how karma comes back in many different ways. It taught you to stand for something that you believe in and protect it by any means.
3. Menace II Society
Directed by: The Hughes Brothers
Starring: Tyrin Turner, Larenz Tate, Jada Pinkett, Samuel L. Jackson, Glenn Plummer, Saafir, MC Eiht, Clifton Powell, Bill Duke, Too $hort
Menace II Society is a classic movie with cats from the neighborhood. I guess I’m influenced by great movies that got a lot of principles in it with friendship, loyalty, and trust. I feel like these stories are real life stories.
4. State of Grace
Directed by: Phil Joanou
Starring: Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright, Jon Turturro, John C. Reilly, Burgess Meredith
It’s also about childhood friends growing up and getting into everything, but at the same time the movie ends with a brother killing his own brother for power. He had a brother that loved him so much, but the other brother didn’t feel the same way.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, Tony Darrow
Goodfellas has a lot of mafia-related principles in it. It shows how you think a person could be with you from day one, and then find out they’re not even built for the sh*t they say they can be built for. Being from Staten Island, where it’s majority Italians, I could relate, because I saw different kids come up and fill these same shoes in a way, and roll over on their friends.
6. Super Fly
Directed by: Gordon Parks, Jr.
Starring: Ron O’Neal, Sheila Frazier, Carl Lee, Julius Harris
It was a great movie about the early ’70s – the drugs, the gangs, and everything that was taking place back then. Showing how dudes coming out of the street and turn something to nothing, and then make it happen again.
7. The Education of Sonny Carson
Directed by: Michael Campus
Starring: Rony Clanton, Don Gordon, Joyce Walker, Paul Benjamin, Mary Alice (The Oracle in The Matrix)
It’s about childhood friends as well – especially one character had it really hard and really rough his entire life. Even when he became grown it was still rough on him. He went through hell and back, but he kept his head up.
BONUS: The Five Deadly Venoms
Directed by: Cheh Chang
Starring: Sheng Chiang, Meng Lo, Feng Ku, Philip Kwok, Feng Lu, Pai Wei, Chien Sun,
We grew up watching these movies. We took these movies as a reality check as far as coming from where we come from.
You seem to be very attracted to the stories about childhood friends. How do you feel these films related to your own life and music?
Raekwon: It’s definitely related to it, because at the end of the day I feel like anything I learned, I learned from a father figure in my life. I felt like me and my team in the streets was a father figure to us. The streets, certain brothers that I looked up to, that I felt like wanted it see me in a better position. It’s nothing stronger that family or a team to me, when you all are moving in the right direction.
These movies definitely relate to my life, because I take loyalty seriously. If I’m with you, I’m with you. If I tell you I’m going to ride with you all the way, then I’m riding with you all the way. We’re not going to play games. You don’t have to worry about me doing something to you or vice versa. It just seems like sometimes things take a left turn. I’ve been going through that all of my life.
Principles, to me, always matters in a situation. Karma and loyalty is definitely something to pay attention to. If you don’t stand for something and be loyal to the people that are loyal to you, then you’ll never be anything.
Follow Raekwon on Twitter @Raekwon, and check out his new video for “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang” below!