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Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

Raekwon

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Album Review

A serious contender for the title of best Wu-Tang solo album (rivaled only by the Genius' Liquid Swords), Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is also perhaps the most influential, thanks to Raekwon's cinematic imagination. If the Genius is the Wu's best overall lyricist, Raekwon is arguably their best storyteller, and here he translates the epic themes and narratives of a Mafia movie into a startlingly accomplished hip-hop album. Raekwon wasn't the first to make the connection between gangsta rap and the Cosa Nostra (Kool G Rap pioneered that idea), but he was the one who popularized the trend. Cuban Linx's portraits of big-money drug deals and black underworld kingpins living in luxury had an enormous influence on the new New York hardcore scene, especially Mobb Deep and Nas, the latter of whom appears here on the much-revered duet "Verbal Intercourse." The fellow Clan members who show up as guests are recast under gangster aliases, and Ghostface Killah makes himself an indispensable foil, appearing on the vast majority of the tracks and enjoying his first truly extensive exposure on record. Behind them, RZA contributes some of the strongest production work of his career, indulging his taste for cinematic soundscapes in support of the album's tone; his tracks are appropriately dark or melancholy, shifting moods like different scenes in a film. Cuban Linx's first-person narratives are filled with paranoia, ambition, excess, and betrayal, fast rises and faster falls. There are plenty of highlights along the way — the singles "Criminology" and "Ice Cream," the gentle "Rainy Dayz," the influential posse cut "Wu-Gambinos" — and everything culminates in "Heaven & Hell" and its longing for redemption. Like the Genius' Liquid Swords, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx takes a few listens to reveal the full scope of its lyrical complexities, but it's immensely rewarding in the end, and it stands as a landmark in the new breed of gangsta rap.

Customer Reviews

amazing

one of the greatest rap albums of all time, raekwon is legendary

Legendary

one of the best rap albums of all time. the beats, the lyrics, everything is just SICK on this album... I've been listening to this album since it came out 15 years ago, and it is just as enjoyable now (even more, actually) as it was then. i hope raekown does the album title justice with Cuban Linx 2.

Absolute classic

This album is by far one of THE greatest albums ever produced by any rapper!! Absolute must in your library!!

Biography

Born: January 12, 1970 in New York

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Raekwon may not have achieved the solo stardom of his fellow Wu-Tang Clan mates Method Man or Ol' Dirty Bastard, but along with Genius/GZA and frequent partner Ghostface Killah, he's done some of the most inventive, critically acclaimed work outside the confines of the group. Born Corey Woods and also nicknamed the Chef (because he's "cookin' up some marvelous sh*t to get your mouth watering"), Raekwon joined the Staten Island, NY-based...
Full bio