By Keith Nelson Jr (@Jusaire)
For a five-part series, I will use quotes and coaching tips from the greatest living NBA coach, Phil Jackson and help five rap labels in turmoil fix their situation. His book Eleven Rings and various interviews will be used.
Yesterday (May 5th) we explored how Phil Jackson could help prevent the impending mutiny over at TDE from happening. Hours after the article was released, Ab-Soul finally announced the title to his first album in two years and Top Dawg Entertainment's CEO announced that he will reveal the release date later this week.
Today, Phil Jackson will need all 11 of his rings to handle...
Raekwon and RZA are at odds over business differences associated with the new Wu-Tang Clan album, A Better Tomorrow. RZA claims Raekwon is the only member of Wu-Tang Clan that has not begun working on the new album. Raekwon alleges that RZA has not been interested in including outside producers and that RZA is "not in the music world no more."
The last time Raekwon went Gold with either Wu-Tang Clan or his own solo album was 14 years ago on Wu-Tang Clan's third album, The W back in 2000. Few factors drive Hip Hop album sales more than nostalgia and remembrance. Some of the highest selling albums skyrocketed to millions of records because the artist died (Life After Death), placed their careers in limbo for over a decade (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below) or constantly reminded the buying public of one time they were shot A LOT of times (Get Rich or Die Tryin'). Phil Jackson would make this point incredibly salient to Rae and explain how a 20th Anniversary's accumulative sales from touring, countless documentaries, TV licensing(RZA, call your boy) and more will balance out any current contract issues:
“I often reminded the players to focus on the journey rather than the endgame, because if you give the future all your attention, the present will pass you by"
Raekwon, as a Chef should know to never bite the hand that feeds you. Especially when you're one of the fingers.
Solution # 2
“Instead of expecting them to be somewhere else and getting angry and trying to will them to that place, you try to meet them where they are and lead them where you want them to go"
Raekwon stated that RZA was "like being a coach and you won rings back in the day, but now your team is in ninth place. It’s time for a new fucking game plan." RZA has been implementing the strategy of lead by example so perplexingly isolated that the message becomes construed as defiance until compliance. Don't go on TV telling Raekwon he has 30 days to join a Wu-Tang Clan album, two months after you surprisingly announced a double disc Wu-Tang Clan album (Once Upon A Time In Shaolin) that you admit NO ONE in Wu-Tang Clan has heard.
As much as Raekwon and the rest of Wu-Tang Clan needs to understand that the Clan brand is the best thing they have going in their respective music careers, RZA, in order to sustain his role as leader, must empower them:
What I’ve learned over the years is that the most effective approach is to delegate authority as much as possible and to nurture everyone else’s leadership skills as well. When I’m able to do that, it not only builds team unity and allows others to grow but also, paradoxically, strengthens my role as leader.
Spread power, it's the (Phil) Jackson way. Yes, for three (some argue only two) Wu-Tang Clan albums in the 90s, RZA was a masterful orchestrator of both production and talent. However, recapturing the magic to fuel the nostalgia(and in turn generate sales) does not mean repeating every single step that made it work. Since Raekwon has shown an interest in working with outside producers, why not embrace that and empower Raekwon with a new position in your production oligarch. Maybe he can be Head of Production Acquisition (and U-God could be Administrator of Blunt Wrap Retrieval).
If all else fails, someone can turn off the lights and hope for the best according to Phil Jackson:
When I had the players sit in silence, breathing together in sync, it helped align them on a nonverbal level far more effectively than words. One breath equals one mind.
Namaste Ain't Nothing To Fuck With!