Raekwon was one of the most exciting MCs in the Wu-Tang Clan. The 1990s Staten Island crew exploded into the mainstream with their 1993 hit ‘Protect Ya Neck’ and continued to churn out hits. However, Raekwon was one of the most lyrical, and his debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, was one of the most critically acclaimed. Strangely, though, the lyricist was forced to change the project’s initial name.
In an interview with DJ Vlad for Vlad TV, Raekwon (real name Corey Woods) made a groundbreaking revelation about his debut album and revealed how the New York Mafia played a role in renaming it.
Woods admitted that growing up in New York, he was a fan of the Mafia and loved the way they handled business. As such, he often referred to the Wu-Tang Clan as the “Wu-Gambinos.” He used the phrase so much that he utilised the term for a track title. Moreover, he even named the album Wu-Gambinos.
However, Woods claimed that the late founder of Loud Records, Steven Rifkind, was cautioned by associates of The Gambino family about the project’s name, stating, “They was like, ‘Yo, you can’t call no albums that.’ This was a conversation I had with [Steve] Rifkind because Rifkind’s pops, he was connected. He had a lot of relationships. I remember me enforcing the title on Steve and saying, ‘Yo, this is what we want to call it. We want to call it Wu-Gambinos, and he was like, ‘Yo, I’m gonna look into that.'”
He continued, “And I remember him coming back to me and saying, ‘Yo, that’s not happening.’ And I was like, ‘You serious?’ And he was like, ‘It’s not gonna happen. They not having that.'”
The Gambinos are an infamous Italian-American gang founded in New York and are one of the notorious “Five Families” that ran the East Coast during the early 20th century.
Reflecting on why they blocked it, Woods declared, “At the end of the day, a song is a song, but when you start using somebody’s likeness or whatever on that level, it could’ve been a situation where now you gotta take a conversation or meeting behind this.”
He concluded, “It was something funny to me because I wanted to do it anyway. Back then, our mentality was to take the risk, fuck it. But like I said, being young and kind of immature and not understanding the business to the fullest, we had to second-guess that motion and be like, ‘You know what? Don’t do it.”
You can watch Raekwon’s interview in the video below.