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Old 09-02-2009, 02:44 AM   #1
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Default beautifulrock's review of Only Built for Cuban linx....part 2

Never has an album in hip hop history received as much hype and anticipation as the 4 years in the making for Only Built For Cuban Linx...part 2. The fear and disappointment of constant setbacks and release pushes had Wu-heads scratching theirs, and doubting whether Raekwon's opus even existed at all. Those fears subsided in past weeks and months, however, as tracks from the mythical album started to leak and listeners rejoiced at the product that was slowly being released from the Ice water camp. Fast forward to September 1st, and as the first leaked copies of the album spread like wildfire across the internet, Wu-Stans couldn't wait to post their first opinions of the record in mass. Indeed, nary a negative reply was heard, and for at least a tiny instance, Wu-Tang and Raekwon had climbed to the pinnacle of hip hop perfection, dangling their skills over the lackluster Slaughterhouse crew, as if to say, "Nice album, now toast to the best whodunnit."

Between momentary lapses in beat strength and purpose, on tribute tracks and mild R&B crossovers, what remains is nothing short of a head nodding masterpiece. Although infused with a bevy of producers, and reworked executive production, Raekwon has managed to harness the Wu sound with all involved, and create a seamless blend of soul, mafioso, and Kung Fu samples not necessarily reminiscent of the first album, but as an entity of originality unto itself. There will be those that insist that this is a carbon copy of the first, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is Raekwon's album, his memoir if you will. Perhaps even more intimate than the Lex Diamond story, perhaps lyrically stronger than the overlooked Immobilarity, Raekwon has definitely exceeded beat expectations and comprised a worthy sequel to it's 1995 predecessor.

Upon first listen there is nothing skippable, no filler what-so-ever. Sure, everybody may not love all of the tracks, but you would be hard-pressed to find a track that is so inferior, it doesn't belong on the album. All of the Wu-Tang members who grace the album do so in highly potent fashion, reminding us why they are the greatest rap group in history. The guest appearances are surprisingly solid, but not enough to detract from the shine of Raekwon, or what this album is all about. It symbolizes togetherness, an unbreakable bond that even death can't destroy, as evidenced on the incredible tribute track Ason Jones. For once in many many years, we were promised a superior record, and that's exactly what we got.

red = 5 of 5
orange = 4 of 5
yellow = 3 of 5
green = 2 of 5
blue = 1 of 5

vocal credit
production credit


Return of The North Star
Raekwon
Papa Wu
BT

Starting as the first album ended, with the North Star beat, Papa Wu serenades the track with wisdom in his voice as he has done many times before. A lesson about money and the "real" devil ensues with Papa Wu issuing a warning to Rae to watch out for the cheats and liars, and to get his paper because it's his. Inexplicably, the beat morphs into a preview of the Have Mercy track with Raekwon talking to himself? Not the best opening track ever, and not that standout, but it does do one important thing, that is, reminding those listeners of where the idea spawned.


House of Flying Daggers
Raekwon
Ghostface Killah
Inspectah Deck
J Dilla

The opening song of the album is Raewon's personal favorite, and it's easy to see why. All of the classic elements of Wu-Tang production and lyricism are featured, from the low moaning on the beat to the interpolation of Clan in the Front on the hook. However it's the individual lyrics that are complete head turners here, and it is all jumped off by Deck, brilliantly spitting "I pop off like a mobster boss, angel hair with the lobster sauce, summertime can't top the scorch". Ghost adds many gems from "The team gotta eat, seeds is hungry, that's why we ain't scared to dump on niggaz, our guns is chunky" to "I'm an old mummy, my gold weigh as much as King Tut's"...finally ending with Mef's clearest and most concise flow in years "Got a lotta piff to puff, and I ain't come for fisticuffs or for the cops don't wanna click the cuffs, man is Staten in this bitch or what?" A hard hitting beat and quotable lyrics are just what the doctor ordered for those dying for a solid dose of Wu.

Sonny's Missing
Raekwon
Pete Rock

From a beat with Kung Fu appeal to a darker, more mafioso-esque one, Raekwon weaves a ghetto tale with details that make it play out like a crime report. He delicately weaves his yarn with careful attention to flow and inflection. Hard dusty brass with flutes over slow rumbling bass and muffled hi hat drive this short story without need for a hook. An impressive blending of harmony and vocal that is short enough to keep the listener interested.

Pyrex Vision
Raekwon
Marley Marl

A short interlude featuring soothing vocals and an even more comfortable melody is sure to leave fans wanting more. This seems to be the calm before the storm, because what follows is a Rainy Dayz counterpart.

Cold Outside
Raekwon
Ghostface Killah
Ice Water Productions

The mild R&B crossover of the album has an almost regal feel, with classical brass dominating a slow rolling beat. A downtrodden tale by Rae with Ghost in tow, they seem to easily tear apart tracks like this with the lyrics while the hooks always compliment the verses aptly.

Black Mozart
Raekwon
Inspectah Deck
RZA
RZA

A hard to describe cross between a church hymn and a Halloween TV special, this track combines elements of an electric pipe organ, electric guitar chord strikes, and hard snare raps. The real deal here is Deck whose verse is the staple of this song. An otherwise forgettable hook and bizarre ending are the only things that prevent this from being declared an instant classic.

Gihad
Raekwon
Ghostface killah
Necro

An odd combination of Islamic chorus and uneven bass samples prevent this track from being a classic, but that's not where the strength of this track lies. An extra strong muffled hook and verses concluded by a hilarious chastisement by Ghost on the outro are the real draw here, once again a ghetto tale riddled with pristine observations and visceral moments.

New Wu
Raekwon
Ghostface killah
Method Man
RZA

RZA's second production on the album is nothing short of miraculous. Everything on the beat is perfection, from the classic drum kit used many times before, to the unending chorus of OOH WU that dominates the melody. Already a month old before the album dropped, this still remains one of the predominant songs on the record. It is hard not to regurgitate each and every lyric as it's spit by each emcee. A sure fire classic.

Penitentiary
Raekwon
Ghostface Killah
BT

A deadly serious orchestra comprised of high shrilly bells and Indian strings reminiscent of Eminem's Ass Like That make this an immediate Wu-banga. Although short and to the point, it's presence on the album is not easily missed by fans of the hardcore sound. Once again Ghost and Rae spin a yarn in their Abbot and Costello style, bouncing back and forth a few short lines at a time. The overlapping Rae hook is utterly repeatable, and BT makes his mark on the album with superb production.

Baggin' Crack
Raekwon
Erick Sermon

Another short yet impressive jab, Baggin' Crack features playful production by old school kingpin Erick Sermon of Def Squad and EPMD fame, and a drug riddled verse by the Chef. Effortlessly explaining the intricacies of the crack trade, the song is a reminder of his days on the hustle and a reminder Raekwon came from real surroundings.

Surgical Gloves
Raekwon
Alchemist

Repeating electronic percussion drowns out the background melody as Raekwon methodically rides the rhythm. Memories of Big Trouble in Little China are surfaced within this realm before a shouted hook punctuates the track. The only drawback is Raekwon solo is not nearly as exciting as Raekwon with support.

Broken Safety
Raekwon
Jadakiss
Styles P
Scram Jones

A Kung Fu sample introduces the track before jumping into a double time beat with a constantly repeating voice sample over low whole notes. Jadakiss is as usual an apt wordsmith using the same voice over recording techniques he uses on every one of his tracks. Raekwon provides a verse equal to the task, but it's Styles P that really surprises here with his offering. It's better than boring, which is a-typically better than his capabilities.

Canal Street
Raekwon

Ice water productions

On to the second half of the album where Raekwon once again turns to the Ice water production team for assistance. It is at this point in the album where you start to see Rae's vision of a drug novella becoming clearer. Although at times disjointed and out of place, most of the tales on this record can be interwoven so the overall story and theme stay consistent throughout. 70's brass samples and guttural beats litter this true life city track.

Ason Jones
Raekwon
Ol' Dirty Bastard
J Dilla

The Wu are quickly becoming kings of the tribute track with Rae saluting his fallen brother in fine fashion. A classic soul sample loop by legendary producer J Dilla, and interview clips from the one and only ODB make this an instantly memorable cut.

Have Mercy
Raekwon
Beanie Sigel
Blue Raspberry

Ice water Productions

No doubt a grower track, it may take a while for new fans to get used to Blue Raspberry's high pitched off-key fluctuating hook. Beanie Sigel and Raekwon spin a tale from the prospective of being behind bars while the cool city groove rolls along. It's a simple yet effective beat comprised primarily of piano chords and electric bass guitar.

10 Bricks
Raekwon
Cappadonna
Ghostface Killah
J Dilla

Alarm bells in the interlude remind the listener that this is a Dilla track, and a hot one at that. As if he is part of Wu's own production team, Dilla concocts a beat that could easily have been stolen from one of RZA's milk crates. High twanging strings and sharp brass provide a hard Kung Fu backdrop for Rae, Capp, and Ghost to easily destroy.

Fat Lady Sings
Raekwon
RZA

Essentially another interlude, Fat Lady Sings is a short story laid to wax courtesy of production by the RZA. Rae tells the story of territoriality wars with the Jamaicans over a steady beat with bongos for percussion.

Catalina
Raekwon
Lyfe Jennings
Dr. Dre

As the story winds down, Rae creates a song about the dangers of karma in the form of retaliation. Probably at least a few years old, it's easy to see
why Raekwon moved away from Dre's executive production if this is the best he could come up with. More a tropical feel, than a Kung Fu or Mafioso one, the subject matter is much more in line with Rae's style than the out of place beat. The last thing you ever expect to hear on a Cuban Linx album is Kettle drums. Huge upside is the Akon wannabe on the hook that i never heard of.

We Will Rob You
Raekwon
Masta Killa
GZA
Slick Rick
Karim

Wasting a legendary talent like Slick Rick for such an awful hook is almost criminal. Thank god GZA saves the day with a past glimpse of his former glory. Raekwon once again paints a clear picture of the story he's telling, truly a giant leap in the right direction as he seems to be getting better at what his partner in crime Ghost does so brilliantly. With so many mistakes on one track, this is easily one of the bottom 3 joints on the album.

About Me
Raekwon
Busta Rhymes
Dr. Dre

Beatwise the most boring track on the album, Dre is surprisingly lackluster with his dull slamming piano notes and hand claps. Also surprising is the fact that Busta gets no album credit for this song, one in which he shines with his bizarre inflections and grunting flow.

Mean Streets
Raekwon
Inspectah Deck
Ghostface Killah
Allah Mathematics

After the only lull in the album, Rae rebounds with a strong output on the final two tracks of the album. The first is Mean Streets, mixing complex metaphors with an unbelievably strong hook. Many may find this boring, but as far as knowledge being spewed, it really doesn't get any better than this. Low Brass, high recorders, and splashing cymbals are mashed together in a way that both symbolizes ending or completion and the epic nature of the record itself. A hidden jewel.

Kiss the Ring
Raekwon
Inspectah Deck
Masta Killa
Scram Jones

Talk about saving the best for last. If you ever told me that the Wu would one day sample an Elton John song, I probably would have believed you, but never would have believed it would work out this well. The chorus for Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is interpolated here, and it is absolutely one of the greatest decisions Raekwon has ever had. Putting it on this album at the end gives the listener a feeling of wanting more, so much more, that the first and only instinct is to start all over and replay the whole thing. For my money it's a top 20 track for the entire history of their catalog. Absolute perfection.


With at least half a dozen certified classics and a litany of bangers in tow, this album will keep Wu-Tang fans satisfied for at least a few months, or at best give the Stans a chance to put down that Dopium cd long enough to give their college roommate some solace after listening to Eurotrash remixes ad nauseum. The album stays on point, never skews off topic, and is chock full of vibrant beats and visceral lyrics. It may not be a crime novella or a totally seamless story, but it does one thing the first part certainly did, it makes you want to listen more.


90/22= 4.09 out of 5


compare likewise track reviews

OB4CL = 4.54
Tical = 4.05
Immobilarity = 2.40
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Last edited by beautifulrock; 09-02-2009 at 02:48 AM.
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:54 AM   #2
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nice offering there, ive only scanned thru it so far, but i think i agree with most of what your saying. I'd say NIgga Me is better than you seem to think.

but how do you figure out your score? what does 90/22 mean?90/22= 4.09 out of 5

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Old 09-02-2009, 07:56 AM   #3
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You add up the score of all the tracks and divide by the number of tracks, this gives you a track average.


If nigga me is about me, my original score was 4, but I got bored of it after about 8 or 9 listens.
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:56 AM   #4
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^^^hmmm...good review, i don't agree with some of it but I'm going to refrain on dropping my thoughts on the album for a little while
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:21 PM   #5
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up
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by beautifulrock View Post

Starting as the first album ended, with the North Star beat, Papa Wu serenades the track with wisdom in his voice as he has done many times before. A lesson about money and the "real" devil ensues with Papa Wu issuing a warning to Rae to watch out for the cheats and liars, and to get his paper because it's his. Inexplicably, the beat morphs into a preview of the Have Mercy track with Raekwon talking to himself? Not the best opening track ever, and not that standout, but it does do one important thing, that is, reminding those listeners of where the idea spawned.

orig album ends with heaven and hell
northstar -jewels was put on the re-issue..

.
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:36 PM   #7
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both my copies have northstar on it, and I bought it the week it debuted.
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:38 PM   #8
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my orig wax nor my orig tape includes northstar-jewels..
i bought a re-issue on wax a year or so ago that did include it...
..
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:48 PM   #9
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ok, I bought the CD, which had Northstar on it as a CD bonus track. The purple tape didn't have it on it because it wouldn't fit. That's the reason. Trust me, I have two copies of the cd and the only difference between them is one copy is signed on the cd.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:57 PM   #10
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ok, I bought the CD, which had Northstar on it as a CD bonus track. The purple tape didn't have it on it because it wouldn't fit. That's the reason. Trust me, I have two copies of the cd and the only difference between them is one copy is signed on the cd.
really?
that's why it was left of the wax version as well?
it couldnt fit..?
gtfo
northstar jewels was added as a bonus track on the re-issue or latter press..
face facts./.ur wrong..
just like bible was included on the re-issue of liquid swords as a bonus track..
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:02 PM   #11
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I lived it. I bought them all the first week. I don't care if you disagree with me. In the 90's there were CD bonus tracks. I have the original printing of Liquid Swords and the original printing of Only Built for Cuban Linx and they both have those bonus tracks, just like Return to 36 has them, just like Ironman has them...

13* "B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth)" 4:33 An asterisk (*) indicates a track originally omitted from the vinyl version, but present on the reissue and the CD. [17][18]





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Old 09-04-2009, 06:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by battle? View Post
really?
that's why it was left of the wax version as well?
it couldnt fit..?
gtfo
northstar jewels was added as a bonus track on the re-issue or latter press..
face facts./.ur wrong..
just like bible was included on the re-issue of liquid swords as a bonus track..
you're wrong on both accounts
both bonus tracks were on the original cd pressings of both albums

the only changes that were made was the reissue of cuban linx having the rainy dayz remix and the wu gambinos hidden chamber remix, and later pressings of ironman having soul controller removed for sample issues

north star has always been a part of cuban linx on cd
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Old 09-04-2009, 10:46 AM   #13
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^^^thank you
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:51 PM   #14
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someone i dj with has both copies of linx an swordz on cd that does not have northstar on it nor bible but bible it is listed on liner notes..1st time we can both recall hearing bible was on a 12inch released in 95 that ahd that on the b-side..
but
ill def take a pic for u..
but beyond that how can something be taken as part of an orig version of a re-lease if it is not on all orig versions of it..
even counting northstar as a bonus track it's only on 1/3 of the re-leases..
the three being cass,cd,wax....
an really why didnt u just add to the cl2 album review thread???
last time i new a bonus track means a special (jewel) kinda of ironic, that didint make the orig cut.
since u like wiki..
In terms of recorded music, a bonus track (also known as a bonus cut or bonus) is a piece of music which has been included on specific releases or reissues of an album. This is most often done as a promotional device, either as an incentive to customers to purchase albums they might otherwise not, or to repurchase albums they already own.It's not uncommon to release singles as bonus tracks on re-issues of old albums, where those weren't originally included.
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Old 09-04-2009, 12:54 PM   #15
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i also like how u dont even comment on any of the kungfu samples used in ur review..
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