Album Review: Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II

9 09 2009

Raekwon-Only_Built_4_Cuban_Linx_2

In the 90’s the Wu-Tang Clan were an elite rap group from Staten Island made up of nine unique, hard body MC’s. Throughout their reign, they released group albums and a long list of solo albums. Some of the most known solo albums from Wu-Tang members are Method Man’s Tical, Ghostface Killah’s Ironman, and Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Any fan of Hip Hop can easily identify Only Built 4 Cuban Linx as arguably the best album from a Wu-Tang member and it still receives positive recognition from Hip Hop fans till this day. OB4CL pioneered the “Mafioso” rap style in ’95, and since then Raekwon has released solo albums and group albums which didn’t come near the caliber of his debut album. Ten years later, it was announced that Raekwon was going to make a sequel to the classic album, but after a number of changes and push backs, it didn’t hit the stores until 2009. Does Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 live up to it’s predecessor, or is it another Immobilarity?

4.5/5 –

The album picks up right where the original left off by using the closing track “North Star (Jewels)” from OB4CL as the albums opener; minus the rap performance and replaced with spoken word. The intro alone sets the tone of the album, and takes fans directly back to ’95. To keep both albums in the series consistent, Raekwon “co-stars” Ghostface Killah on this album having him appear on a majority of the tracks. One of his standout appearances is on “Gihad” when goes in on a jumpoff over the haunting Necro beat:

Yo, but on the otherside of town it’s Toney laid up/this white chick wanna gargle my nuts/I put the baileys down, tapped the blunt out/Grabbed her by her hair watched blondie love whip my dick out/Spit drippin down my balls, she slober me/That’s right, suck that dick get it hard for me/pyrex in one hand, large amount of grams in it rocked up/and she pregnant my lil man got her knocked up

One trademark that did change on this sequel is the production. RZA was responsible for producing the entire Cuban Linx Pt. 1, but this time he only returns with three contributions out of 22 tracks. While The Chef’s chemistry with RZA is undeniable, Raekwon proves he can work with other producers and still make Wu-bangers. Take the J. Dilla produced “House of Flying Daggers”; the Wu-Tang reunites over this hard hitting beat, dropping vicious rhymes in traditional Wu-Tang fashion. On the other hand, the RZA produced tracks like “Black Mozart” and the lead single “New Wu” are incredible as well.
Originally the album was supposed to be released on Dre’s Aftermath records, but unfortunately didn’t work which led to the Indie release of the album. Dr. Dre however, still managed to produce two tracks for the album. One is the Busta Rhymes collabo “About Me”, and the other is “Catalina” featuring Lyfe Jennings. The two Dre efforts are the closest to singles that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 has to offer with “Catalina” being the most single worthy.
The Chef has a reputation for vividly rapping out slang filled crime stories. He shows no sign of losing his storytelling abilities on tracks like hostage themed “Sonny’s Missing”, “Fat Lady Sings”, one of my favorite joints; “Pyrex Vision”.
To bring this review to an end, there aren’t any below average songs on this album. Raekwon did an excellent job at following up to the ’95 classic, and managed to keep some of the same qualities but make it appeal to today’s audience. One thing missing from the album is a good closing. The previous Cuban Linx ended with “North Star” (as mentioned earlier in this review) bringing the album to a soulful end. This time around, there isn’t an outro track, but instead ends with “Kiss The Ring” with Inspecktah Deck and Masta Killa. A perfect ending track would’ve been the ODB dedication “Ason Jones”. Regardless of the choice for a closing track, the album overall is gritty, filled with sick, descriptive storytelling, and dark, New York styled production. Raekwon made a favorable follow up to the ’95 classic album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.

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