Raekwon Sets Up Canadian Hip-Hop Label, Toronto Office

Ice H20 has its sights set on Toronto, and the Wu-Tang champion believes there's more to the city than Drake & Bieber.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Wu-Tang Clan cornerstone spitter Raekwon has opened a Toronto office of his new Canadian label, Ice H20, with the hopes of finding the next monster act in Hip-Hop.

"What brought me here is because of the fact the city is so rich and filled with talent that's being overlooked," Kwon told the Toronto Sun from his Ice H20 offices. He's thankful to have a presence in a city most recently known for launching Drake and "my little nephew" Justin Bieber, but the seasoned rap veteran believes there's plenty more gems to find in the Northern wild.

"Alright you got Drake who made it but there's still more people here," he explains. "And if you really look at the table chart of Canadian artists that made it out of here, the majority of them, you could say were successful. Avril Lavigne. Melanie Fiona. Kardinal Offishall. Justin Bieber, my little nephew. So my thing is we want come in and diffuse anything that's not real, anything that doesn't associate with real hip-hop. We want to be the one that says, 'Yo, we want to help build and build a bigger and better industry.' I'm just like. 'Yo with talent from Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec,' who's paying attention?' The Drake factor is definitely a big factor. It's a thing to respect. It's like Drake being Wu-Tang back in the days for us. That's who he is now."

The first artist signed to Ice H20 is Toronto's JD Era, whose debut will drop next year. Raekwon's got big plans for the rapper he discovered a year ago, but it mindful of the gaps many – if not most – promising upstarts fall victim to.

"Next year, we're counting on him coming through and making an impact but it's about having your business together first," he explains. "You being an artist that people can say, 'Yo, you're paying your dues.' You can't just come in and run to the top."

Additionally, Raekwon is working on his next solo album, as well as a possible Wu-Tang Clan 20th anniversary tour and CD in 2012. A non-traditional biopic about his life is planned as well, called C.R.E.A.M. and starring Erykah Badu and Cee-Lo Green as his parents.

"You know the things I went through as a youngster, coming into the business, all the good, the bad and the ugly that came," Raekwon said. "I'd had a rough life. I grew up single parent. My moms she was like a father to me. Now that's like my best friend. It touches on the inner-city kid with a couple of unfortunate friends that had the biggest dreams in the world."

Read the entire interview at the Toronto Sun, and check out our most recent interview with the Wu-Tang master.

Image credit: Raekwon