Raekwon
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...


5.0
classic

Review

by Apocalyptic Raids USER (7 Reviews)
May 6th, 2007 | 336 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Raekwon gives us a sprawling Hip-Hop epic, which lines up besides Liquid Swords and Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) as a pinnacle of the Wu-Tang's career.

Raekwon's debut solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., was part of the first round of Wu-Tang solo efforts that appeared in the three years following Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). It's an exclusive club, sitting alongside albums such as Liquid Swords and Ironman, which are not just excellent spinoffs from the Clan but are Hip-Hop classics in their own right.

Not unlike the rest of Wu-Tang's early material, the production here is credited solely to the RZA. Where previous Wu-Tang albums like Method Man's Tical and Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) were short, raw and relatively focused affairs, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is a long, theatrical and over-the-top epic. It sees RZA moving away from the gritty style of earlier Wu-Tang projects, and embracing a cinematic lustre which relies heavily on strings and classic soul samples.

While the production is the obvious exponent of the cinematic quality I've been rambling about, it wouldn't really work without a talented group of MCs to tell the tales, and Raekwon and Co. deliver the goods. Lex Diamonds (aka Raekwon) and his sidekick Tony Starks (Ghostface Killah) present rhymes telling stories of drug trafficking, street life and even a stealthy diss directed toward The Notorious B.I.G. They are assisted by their fellow "Wu-Gambinos" Maximillion (GZA), Bobby Steels (RZA), Johnny Blaze (Method Man) and the rest of the family. Ghostface in particular is in career best form.

While many Hip-Hop albums can struggle when they get past the 60 minute mark, for the most part Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... manages to keep the listeners attention throughout eighteen songs, with only two of those being skits. While I could do without a few tracks in the second half of the album, the fact it seems to drag is more to do with the brilliance of the first half. From the intro Striving For Perfection through to Guillotine (Swordz) is an amazing run of songs, the highlight of which is probably Rainy Dayz, with Ghostface and Raekwon delivering musings on the street life which are complemented perfectly by Blue Raspberry's sublime vocals. Another highlight is Verbal Intercourse, particularly Nas' fantastic guest spot which gave birth to his "Nas Escobar" persona and is a glimpse of the lyrical style and overall sound his It Was Written album would contain just a year later. GZA and Inspectah Deck also have guest verses which should be noted for their excellence. Amongst all the guest spots and verses from his partner in crime (Ghost is even on the album cover, such is his contribution to the record) sits Raekwon. He might not be the most spectacular of the nine MCs that make up the Wu-Tang Clan, but he is the backbone of the album and provides consistently great verses throughout. He might not be as over the top as Ghostface, or as skilled a wordsmith as GZA, but his words carry a genuine conviction, and he is the perfect foil for Ghostface.

While Raekwon and Co. weren’t the first to rap about Mafioso themes (that accolade goes to Kool G Rap on his albums with DJ Polo in the late '80s/early '90s), he certainly popularised it. In wake of this album, records such as Nas' It Was Written, Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt and AZ's Doe or Die all showed the influence of this album’s atmosphere, lyricism and production. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... was the beginning of a brief but memorable era in Hip-Hop, and stands proudly alongside Liquid Swords and Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) as one of the Wu-Tang’s finest moments.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Apocalyptic Raids
May 6th 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

first review for ages I shouldn't be so lazy.

Sepstrup
May 6th 2007


1563 Comments


I need Liquid Swords and this.

sgrevs
May 6th 2007


698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rainy Days is like :wow:

This review is like :wow:

This album is like :wow:


Wyko
May 6th 2007


150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. It's a good album but I don't like it nearly as much as Liquid Swords and 36 chambers.

slep
May 6th 2007


1604 Comments


Good to see a review on this. From what I've heard it's a good album, so I'll probably end up getting this.

The Jungler
May 6th 2007


4827 Comments


Great review, I guess I'm gonna download Liquid Swords tonight. Maybe I'll go looking for this afterwards.

pulseczar
May 6th 2007


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review. I'd rank this second in solo albums, behind Liquid Swords and ahead of Ironman. I'd say though that the beats on Liquid Swords are as cinematic as they are here, but are stylized in a different way.

Producer1337
May 6th 2007


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is off the chain...
I have both it and Liquid Swords... I love both, probably Liquid Swords a lil more though. This tells a dope story tho, and the rhyme schemes an lyrics are insane at some points.

smokersdieyounger
May 9th 2007


672 Comments


you definately shouldnt be so lazy with reviews this good man. Now the first wave of Wu have all been reviewed

Apocalyptic Raids
May 9th 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks.

The Jungler
June 19th 2007


4827 Comments


i think Raekwon is my favorite Clan member, at least based on Chambers. I'll listen to this tonight or tommorow.

spillane
June 19th 2007


85 Comments


raekwon isn't even near your favorite clan member
sorry

Apocalyptic Raids
June 23rd 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ghostface my favourite clan member. Rae would probably be third or fourth.

blackmilk
June 23rd 2007


584 Comments


Pretty good, but nowhere near the quality of a lot of other Wu side projects.



Fort23
June 23rd 2007


2475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed^...

Zebra
Moderator
January 17th 2008


2647 Comments


I just listened to this front to back for the first time. It's got some solid cuts, and functions well as a whole even if it doesn't compare to other Wu-tang related efforts. This is definitely going to get another spin sometime in the near future. Great review as well, you should do it more often.

MrKite
April 24th 2008


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I need to listen to this again. I only remember Incarcerated Scarface which is one of my favorite songs.

MUNGOLOID
April 25th 2008


4323 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best Wu solo album ever!!!! Hopefully the sequel doesn't suck.

J34
May 13th 2008


24 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The trilogy:

Liquid Swords, 36 Chambers, and Built 4 Cuban Linx.

These 4 albums are must gets for your Wu Tang and rap collection. Dont forget the Illmatic by Nas!

LifeInABox
July 29th 2008


3709 Comments


wtf trilogy? what about
Tical, Return To The 36 Chambers, Ironman.
Nas has nothing to do with Wu Tang, but Illmatic is still fantastic. There are plenty more rap albums necessary than those 4



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