Review Summary: Raekwon’s best solo effort.Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
is Raekwon’s fourth solo album. He released it on September 8, 2009 a bit of an extended wait. It is the sequel to his similarly titled and critically acclaimed solo debut: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
. Raekwon announced the album’s release 2005. This album has multiple producers that are held in high regard, including Dr. Dre, RZA, and J Dilla (to name a few). Also, along with a multitude of producers, there is a lots and lots of guest appearances on the recordings. Wu-Tang Clan members GZA, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, RZA, and Masta Killa all make an appearance on Cuban Linx II, and more often than not make multiple appearances. Other notable artists showing their faces are Jada Kiss, Busta Rhymes, Styles P, and Blue Raspberry.
OB4CL2 is arguably Raekwon’s best solo effort. His rapping is superb and his guests are almost always on the mark. The beats are consistent in quality and keep the listener interested instead of boring them to tears by being repetitive. The samples compliment Cuban Linx II perfectly by giving it a more diverse sound. The album is only really marred by a few misplaced quirks and some shoddy choruses. The surprising amount of good material more than makes up for this though.
After the interesting intro track “Return of the North Star” ends, the album really kicks off with the single “House of Flying Daggers”. At the beginning of the song, you begin to hear one of the aforementioned “shoddy choruses”. The monotone/off-key gang chant of “Soldiers in the front, let the heat pump….” just really doesn’t strike any chord with me or even invoke any feeling. Everyone featured in the song does a great job in their verse. Ghostface Killah really shines on this track. His verse is even better than Raekwon’s delivery. Also, “Gihad” is a notable track where Raekwon’s and Ghostface Killah’s flow is just awesome sounding. As far as the album’s concept goes, this song really puts a picture in your mind, as if there is dialogue or something:
“***in' gun, mutha***a
I di—pull a ***in' gun on me again, I blow ya lil' balls off
Go to the store and get me a ***in' 40 'fore I smack the *** out'chu, man”
Cuban Linx II also has some great sung moments. For example, Suga Bang Bang’s chorus on “Cold Outside” just sounds great over the soft and brooding horn melody.
The beats on this album are great. They manage to stay up to par with the rapping side of this album instead of being like a bunch rap/hip-hop albums in which they generally are just there to make some half-sung poem musical. A good example of the beats and the music on this album is “Sonny’s Missing”. The ominous bass line and the saxophone line that fades in and out of the song really give the track an urban/nighttime sort of feel. Also, “Pyrex Vision” has an extremely effective guitar in it. It’s simple, but the minimalistic chords really add to the feel of the song and the concept Raekwon is trying to push across despite the song being under a minute. Lastly, the rather Eastern-influenced “10 Bricks” is a unique and welcome addition to the album.
With over 20 tracks, this album is bound to at least have a few issues. For one, “House of Flying Daggers” and “Catalina” have pretty crappy choruses. The wail in “Fat Lady Sings” is really overpowering and unnecessary. It ruins an otherwise pretty good song. “Have Mercy” is generally just a boring song that I skip when I’m listening to the album in full because there really isn’t anything good about it. The bastardized semi-cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” in Raekwon’s “We Will Rob You” is just stupid and not funny at all to be honest. It really hurts a song in which Raekwon and company have good verses.
Overall, I highly recommend this album to fans of the Wu-Tang Clan. I personally think it is better then most of the Wu’s discography and is as great, if not better, than most of the material 36 Chambers. The rapping is consistent, fast-paced, and aggressive. I’d be hard pressed to find many weak points; it is as tight as nails. The beats have a lot of thought and effort put into them which really helps the feel and flow of the album. Despite a few minor quirks, this album is not to be ignored and is definitely amongst the better ones of 2009.
OVERALL RATING 4/5