Raekwon, the Chef
Some have suggested that Raekwon’s name comes from the Five-Percent Nation, which may very well be true. Yet, nobody has ever come forward to firmly explain its meaning. That won’t stop me from taking a stab at it though. Based on the pre-established pattern that I’ve shown in this piece, it’s hard to buy that RAE’s name is exempt from having a kung fu movie origin. Everything about the word RAEKWON smells of kung fu. Seriously. Just say it.
As a warning, I would kindly suggest that you suspend your disbelief for a moment and read everything that follows with a grain of salt. In other words, read this in the same mental state that you would watch an episode of Monday Night RAW. It is only a theory, but until the Chef himself debunks it, I believe it holds at least a bastion of merit.
My theory is that Raekwon stems from the title character of the ultra-violent movie adaptation of the Japanese Manga Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (力王, 1991), starring Louis Fan (樊少皇).
The kanjis representing the title character’s name are 「力王」, which literally translate to Power King. In Japanese, these characters are pronounced as ‘Riki Oh’, but since the movie was filmed in Hong Kong, its original language track was in Cantonese, and thus the main character’s was pronounced ‘Lek Wong’.
Say it. What does it sound like?
So in theory: 「力王」(Power King) = Riki Oh (Japanese) = Lek Wong (Cantonese) = Raekwon.
I know I should just stop right here, but I’ll do you guys one better. As you all know, RAE is commonly referred to as The Chef. The popular explanation for this moniker is that RAE is an expert at cooking that crack, but I also read that he does have legit culinary skills. Once again, I am not disputing any of these claims, but since we are talking about the Wu, everything is layered and laced in a matrix of subliminal references.
The Chef reference could be based on the Cook character portrayed by Simon Yuen (Ol’ Dirty) in The Mystery of Chess Boxing. Interestingly, there is a little known link between this cook character and Riki-Oh:
As I mentioned earlier, ‘Ol’ Dirty’ Simon Yuen, who portrayed the role of the Cook in The Mystery of Chess Boxing was set to reprise his famous role as Beggar So (aka Sam the Seed) in Magnificient Butcher. When Simon Yuen died, that role went to a lesser-known actor named Fan Mei Sheng. As it turns out, this Fan Mei Sheng is the father of Louis Fan, the guy who played Riki-Oh (aka Lek Wong).
MIND = BLOWN!
Remember folks, this is just a theory. I’d respectfully leave this up until the Chef himself tells me otherwise.
“I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times sideC.R.E.A.M., Raekwon the Chef
Staying alive was no jive
Had secondhands, Mom’s bounced on old man
So then we moved to Shaolin land”