UNCOVERED: The Making of Raekwon The Chef’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Album Cover (1995) with photographer Daniel Hastings.
Where was it shot?
Daniel Hastings: It was called Dakota Studios on 14th St. and 5th Ave. Well, we shot in a few locations but the main [shoot was there]. And then we did some stuff in the streets and then we did some stuff in an apartment, baking the “goods” or whatever in the kitchen. And we shot [the cover] in a studio. Basically, I gave the job commission to Cartel, my company at that time. Cartel was a group of designers and artists who worked [together], pretty much the same thing I still do. I hired a few artists to come in and help me out with like the set design. We set the table, we set the food and stuff. The jewels and all kinds of stuff. And then the curtains. And we did the Wu-Tang logo. And then [the whole Wu-Tang Clan] came up. But the only person that we were waiting for was ODB. ODB was not coming. And [finally] ODB shows up late, like 4 or 5 hours late and starts cursing everybody out. He’s like, “Fuck y’all. Fuck that! Fuck this! All y’all muthafuckas ain’t the Wu! I’m the Wu!” He was upset because nobody showed up to the “Brooklyn Zoo” video that he did. So he came and he was just fuckin’ drunk, man. He was just cursin’ everybody out. He grabbed a bottle of red wine and smashed it on the white cyc (which is the seamless background in a photo studio). He cursed all of us out.
How did you guys calm him down? What happened?
Daniel Hastings: He was basically upset that “nobody supported him” and that he was the Wu and “fuck y’all niggaz” and dada dada dah, “You ain’t real,” and whatever. But it was weird because it was like they just didn’t give him any power. Like they didn’t fight him. He was just like, “Rarararararah” [makes noise imitating ODB outburst] and everybody would just be like… like the RZA would be talkin’ to somebody else, you know what I’m sayin’? [laughs] Like ignoring him. Or Rae would be talkin’ to somebody and you’d hear [ODB yellin'] but [they acted like] it wasn’t happenin’, ya know? So that I found interesting. But I think you see that throughout [his] entire career, I guess [that's] how they probably dealt with him. ODB was fuckin’ crazy, [but] “that’s family, we deal with him.” They didn’t challenge him. Nobody was like, “Yo, shut up!” Nothing like that. He was just angry, and if you see him in those pictures he’s just like [imitates ODB facial expression], “Fuck off!”
Although the shoot was based on the Last Supper concept with the whole Clan, it’s only Rae and Ghost on the actual cover. Was that decided from the outset or did it just happen?
Daniel Hastings: That was a decision prior to the shoot that [the label] requested. Because I think they had a sort of [idea] that Ghost was the next rapper coming after Rae so they were sort of like using the momentum to propel the work in a good positive way. I mean there were a lot of cliques that were doing that though. The ones that survived. There was the Hit Squad. There was a lot of different crews that was puttin’ each other [on]. And I think by Rae putting [Ghost] on the cover that was definitely an instance of “each one pull one,” ya know?
Can you tell me about Rae and Ghost’s relationship while on the set? It’s interesting that Ghost is in the background on the cover considering how he would later become arguably the most prominent Wu-Tang member.
Daniel Hastings: Out of all of them, he has the most loyal fan base. No question. But it’s because of his consistency, you know? I mean, Method Man got popularity faster. He was more of a younger, more upbeat, more of that flavor type of rapper. But between Rae and Ghost I think they have that loyal following. And the stuff they were talking about was straight up shit that the streets was really understanding, ya know? [Instead of just] trying to put rhymes together they would write about experiences that happened to them as well as throw in some codes and words that they used for certain stuff that only certain people would understand, ya know? There’s some shit Ghost says that I still don’t understand. [laughs] I’d be like, “What the hell did he just say there?” But you’re enjoying it because that’s Ghostface and they had that chemistry. I could tell that there were unique cliques within the Wu.