• Mvnyc Fisher


Raekwon’s 1995 debut studio album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… is one of hip-hop’s most celebrated works of all time. The album introduced the mafioso rap subgenre to the masses and put Raekwon and Ghostface Killah in the spotlight.

In a recent interview with VladTV, Raekwon gave the surprising backstory of how he was urged by the New York Mafia to change the name of his legendary debut album.

Raekwon has a high respect for the New York mafia and how they handle their day-to-day business, so much in fact that he refers to himself and his fellow Wu-Tang members as “Wu-Gambinos.” Rae loved the name so much that not only did he record a song on the album under that name, but he also wanted that to be the official title of the project.

“They was like, ‘Yo, you can’t call no albums that,’” Raekwon said. “This was a conversation I had with [Steve] Rifkind, because Rifkind’s pops — rest in peace — 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.’

“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 Gambino Family, one of the five major Mafia organizations in New York City, didn’t appreciate Raekwon using their family name for the album. Rae continued to explain that they were pushing to name the album “Wu-Gambinos” when they already had the song recorded. He explained he was young and wanted to do it any way but soon understood the business side of things.

​​“It was something funny to me because I wanted to do it anyway. But then it was something like, ‘Steve, you ain’t with it, so even if we wanted to bum rush and do it like that, we can’t because you wasn’t even down for it.’

“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.”

Check out the full segment of Raekwon explaining the naming of his classic debut album, and interview with Vladtv below