Latin Grammys 2018

Raekwon Talks New Signee JD Era, Wu-Tang Anniversary Plans

COREY WOODS (a.k.a. Raekwon)

Raekwon is ready to make Toronto "rumble": the NYC rapper, who celebrates two decades with the Wu-Tang Clan next year and plans to drop another solo album next year, has opened a Canadian office for his record label, Ice H2o, and signed Toronto rapper JD Era to the imprint.

"We heard he was a cat that had been on the scene for a long time -- this was even before I knew that he knew the Drake guys," Raekwon tells "I automatically [say], 'Let me hear something,' and I was blown away. He had a nice little style, but on top of it he was still underground, but he was still able to be mainstream. And as a businessman, I have to look at both sides."

The Squeeze: Q&A with Raekwon

Raekwon says his team had been working on tracks with JD Era for the past year and a half before the signing became official, and they are still "staying inside the kitchen, baking." Translation: No album until next year.

Raekwon formed Ice H2o in 2009, and although he says he made a "gang of money" with distributor EMI Music, he is now a free agent in the U.S. while linked with E1 Entertainment in Canada. "When I do deals, I do short deals," he says. "I don't do deals to have me trapped in a situation for a while."

Raekwon also has some other projects on his plate: his next solo album, the follow-up to 2009's critically acclaimed "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2," will drop sometime in 2012, and in the meantime he'll offer a free mixtape on his website on or around Christmas day. There's also a biopic in development, which he says will star Erykah Badu and Cee Lo Green as his parents. Raekwon says the pair "had an opportunity to see the script. They read it, and they were blown away."

"It's a life story that paints a picture of an urban guy in the inner city," Raekwon continues, "and all they know is they wanna get out of here one way or another, whether they're making money in the street or whether they get a job. There are just so many obstacles you have to go through to learn how to survive the streets, because you want this green so bad."

Next year also marks the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Wu-Tang Clan, the legendary hip-hop group that first introduced the world to Raekwon, the rapper says that the collective has big plans. "We've been sitting around talking," he says. "We got something lined up. I can't speak on it yet because it's still confidential until it's actually solidified."