After splitting with Eric B., Rakim signed with his good friend at the time DeShamus “Q=BOB” Sallis of Q=BOB Records to commence his solo career, however, the label folded shortly afterward. He eventually returned in 1997 with The 18th Letter, which included collaborations with DJ Premier and Pete Rock; which was released in two versions, one of which included an Eric B. & Rakim greatest hits disc titled The Book of Life. The critical reception of the album was positive, and it was certified gold. In 1999, Rakim released The Master, which received very good reviews as well.
Rakim was signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment record label in 2000, for work on an album tentatively titled Oh, My God. The album underwent numerous changes in artistic direction and personnel and was delayed several times. While working on the album, Rakim made guest appearances on numerous Aftermath projects, including the hit single “Addictive” by Truth Hurts, the Dr. Dre-produced “The Watcher Part 2” by Jay-Z, and Eminem’s 8 Mile soundtrack. However, Rakim left the label in 2003 and Oh, My God was indefinitely shelved, a result of creative differences with Dre. Rakim signed with DreamWorks Records shortly afterward, but the label closed its doors shortly after that.
Raekwon joined the Wu-Tang Clan, a nine-member hip hop group based in the Staten Island borough of New York City, in 1993. He went under the stage name Raekwon and aliases Shallah Raekwon, Raekwon the Chef, and Lou Diamonds. Wu-Tang Clan debuted that year with Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. Singles from the album included “Protect Ya Neck” and “C.R.E.A.M.”, the latter of which reaching #8 on the Billboard rap chart. Method Man became the first Wu-Tang member to release a solo album; his was Tical, released in 1994. Wu-Tang Forever followed in 1997 and was certified four times platinum by the RIAA, quadruple the certification given Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Alongside other solo albums by its members, Wu-Tang continued recording as a group, releasing The W in 2001 and 8 Diagrams in 2007.Stage 48 605 W. 48th St. New York, NY 10036 (212) 957-1800 http://www.stage48.com