Raekwon is a highly respected New York emcee who made his name during the early 1990s. The Brooklyn lyricist (real name Corey Woods) was a member of the iconic Wu-Tang Clan and put himself on the map with his 1995 debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
Before he joined the Wu-Tang Clan, Woods was part of a dynamic duo alongside Ghostface Killah, with whom he went to high school. The Staten Island school saw Woods befriend Remedy, Method Man and Inspectah Deck, who would invite him to join the Clan.
After moving to Staten Island in the late 1980s, Raekwon began befriending some of the locals. However, what he did not know was that he would end up in the middle of a heated gang war. At this time in the artist’s life, he had no intention of entering the music business. However, one incident would change that.
In Woods’ 2021 memoir From Staircase to Stage: The Story of Raekwon and the Wu-Tang Clan, the ‘Protect Ya Neck’ rhymer opened up about his adolescence and revealed that after getting caught in a crossfire. He was shot in the leg four times.
Delving into the details, Woods wrote, “I was shot by accident and me seeing my friends going through things and knowing these are friends arguing and fighting with one another, the next thing you know, something happened — and I took a penalty for that by being around it. It just made me sit down, reflect and say to myself, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do? Where are you going?'”
Woods began writing poetry during his reflection period, which eventually led to him writing raps. Then, everything became clear to him. Despite the event being physically painful and mentally traumatising, the rapper once revealed it positively affected his life.
In an interview with HipHopDX about the shooting, Woods stated, “Today I say to myself, ‘It was a good thing that I got shot. You don’t often hear that. But for me, it was almost like the important eye-opener that I needed to have. It gave me a lot of time to sit down and reflect on where I’m going and where I’m trying to get to.”
He continued, “And that’s all I was just trying to figure out. But it really made me open up my mind to saying, ‘Yo, you’re good at other things, man. And you have to surround yourself with a more positive outlook on life.'” The change in mindset would eventually lead Woods to spiritual figures such as GZA who was focused on music and change.
You can listen to Raekwon speak about the incident in the video below.