Raekwon The Chef of the Wu-Tang Clan is not only a elite wordsmith – he is a certified sneaker collector. His razor sharp lyrics have made history with his solo albums as well as collectively with the Wu-Tang Clan. Those NB’s was lucky enough to catch up with Raekwon for an exclusive interview. Join us as he breaks down his favorite New Balance silo, growing up learning about New Balance shoes and feelings about U.S. shoe production.
Tell me how you got started liking New Balance back in day?
I’ve been a New Balance king forever. New Balance might have been one of my top three shoes growing up. It was a sneaker that was different from the average. You know what I mean? To me New Balance was the next level up in the sneaker world. It had a mean grip and it had a three digit number system. Come on son! My uncle schooled me on them because he was a tennis player. I would look in his closet every now and then and check out his sneakers. He might have had some Lottos or something different and then I saw them with “N” and I was like uncle what sneakers are these and he said New Balances. They have letters on them and at night they would glow! As a kid I felt like that was the hottest sneaker in the world. To have a glowing sneaker! Ever since then I was a New Balance fan. In my teenager days I started rocking the 574s, to me they were perfect for sweat pants, one leg up, good socks on – you know. Ever since then I would always throw them in my rhymes. You know like New Balance Assassin on the Island, New England.
Would you say 574s are your favorite New Balance shoe?
574 without a doubt.
What colorway are you checking for?
I was always rocking the chocolate or dark blues with grey strings. Wore them mostly with sweat pants or good jeans, a leather jacket and a Yankee on. Mostly had the colors of the Yankees. It made it easy to be on a grown level. New Balance is a grown shoe on top of being a running shoe. Growing in time, like as a kid growing into an adult.
You were at the West NYC release part for their New Balance. Tell us a little about that?
Shout out to the West crew. These are cats I’ve known in the city that are passionate about what they do and they love hip-hop. They orchestrate their whole situation around the whole culture, that’s what I love. They would call me up whether it’s an event or whatevers and they actually think about me and I appreciate that. I always come out to support the movement because this is what creates the movement. It ain’t just about going to parties, blinging and girls. I live the culture. I love everything and every body and I’ve always been a sneakerhead.
What New Balances are you feeling today?
I’m checking the new collection of the 574 and 575. I got all colors from the orange to dark brown. A lot of people think that just because it’s a running shoe that you only capitalize off of it with sweat suits. I might have a mean timberland wool shirt on and I come out with a coco brown New Balance and crush the building. Nice and grown, no time for games.
You travel worldwide and you probably have seen some wild limited New Balances, do you think that that the UK and Asia joints are one upping the US?
That is a tough one. Overall everybody challenges each other. You have a lot of retro ones out there making you say oh shit! But these companies are challenging each other and I think that is so important. Look at it like food, if he has the motherfuckn spicy chicken sandwich with jalapeño sauce on it then you better have some as well. They all have been going at it though. But I would have to say with all the traveling I do, overseas is representing a bit more.
What’s your favorite go to outfit to go with New Balance runners on a summer day?
I keep cool in the summer with some cargo shorts, New Balance and a smooth light rugby. I like rugby’s, with the collar and the flags and all that. I also got to have a new haircut and watch on. On some real cool out shit.
New Balance is coming out with new silos in a bunch of other models, are you checking for those?
Yea I’m checking those but I am a very particular cat when it comes to shoes. Don’t get me wrong I know they have to make certain shoes because everybody is not going to like everything. But a shoe that I rock, I have to really love it. Right now I am rocking the 710s. They feel like gor-tex but more importantly they are a boot that feels like a sneaker. So I’m all for it, they are very comfortable. The wrong shoes can mess up your feet. But these they feel good, they feel like I’m in a new car. The colors are ill – you know. Hopefully you might see chef out there dealing with New Balance on another level. Hopefully they will see I am a sneaker master. You know what I mean. I am! Man I will design a shoe that fits that particular person. New Balance get ready!
How do you feel about New Balance still producing shoes in the US?
That’s dope right there. To be around and to still take the brand to another level is amazing. You have other brands elaborating around sports and entertainment and New Balance has been able to last in that department as well. Probably not to much in the urban areas of today society. As far as sports and running, they make shit official, New Balance has always been in the books. At the end of the day, hard work prevails. It’s like being in a group; you have to still keep that brand going. And they have been able to survive the sneaker wars of today.
So what’s next for Raekwon?
I am making one of the most illest album called “Fly International Luxurious Art.” Get ready for it, it is so incredible. I have a lot of strong producer and fresh new talent. People will be excited to hear who I am working with. And I am going to blow motherfuckas away!