Image Credit: C Flanigan/FilmMagic; Kevin Knight/Retna Ltd; Scott Legato/FilmMagicThe Justin Bieber–Kanye West team-up that began with a Twitter conversation this week has become a reality. Take it from the Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, who flew to NYC yesterday at West’s invitation to add a verse to West’s remix of Bieber’s “Runaway Love.” “This is definitely taking place,” Raekwon tells the Music Mix. “It’s a historical moment for hip-hop.”
Raekwon and West have been meaning to work together for years. But the Staten Island rapper was as surprised as anyone to see his name come up in West’s tweets with Bieber last weekend. “Justin being a young cat, he probably wasn’t even really there when I was doing my thing [in the ’90s],” he says. “But he recognizes the Wu-Tang legacy.” Indeed, Bieber wasn’t even born until four months after the Wu-Tang Clan’s classic debut dropped.
The Staten Island rapper arrived at the historic Electric Lady Studios yesterday to find West hard at work on assorted projects with a handful of other stars. “He had Mos Def there, just chilling on the side. Akon was there. Charlie Wilson, the legendary soul singer. Everybody was running through this studio. Kanye is running around doing him. We’re having drinks, we’re vibing, great music is being made. It felt good to be there, man.” Bieber, sadly, was not present. “I’ll get a chance to see shorty sooner or later,” Raekwon laughs. “We’ll discuss it over a glass of water or something.”
After hearing West’s near-complete “Runaway Love” remix, Rae came up with something slightly different from the gritty crime tales his hardcore fans might expect. “I made it rated PG, not rated R,” he says. “I stayed with the concept of the record. When you’re doing a record with an R&B person, you’ve gotta make sure it glides into the hook and complements what it needs to complement. There’s no curses up there. It’s not me giving you the raw Raekwon.”
West also let Raekwon hear a substantial portion of his own mysterious fifth studio album. “It’s uncommon brilliance,” Raekwon raves. “He’s mastering the art of sound… Any time a man can put on eight or nine records and you’re still like, ‘Gimme more! Gimme more!’ — you know you’re in the right building.” While he hasn’t yet contributed any vocals to Kanye’s project, he hopes to do so soon: “We discussed that. I’m definitely shooting to be on his album.”
As for his own music, Raekwon is “96 percent done” with Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, the album he told me about earlier this year. “It’s going to be an action-packed thriller,” he says. “I was going to drop it before the year is out, but I decided to take my time. I never want to rush my product.” He’s particularly excited about a song called “The Masters of Our Fates,” featuring the Roots’ Black Thought. “When I heard this track, I needed his voice,” he says. “I needed him to explain to me on the track why he’s so ill. He just went in.”
Are you excited to hear Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and Raekwon’s “Runaway Love” remix? How about those other projects? Speak up in the comments.
(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)
More news from EW.com’s Music Mix: