|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2003-12-16
Retro "Shaolin" Classic: Only Built for Cuban Linx - Raekwon, Loud Records 1995
Check this scenario right ... Let's say the classic Godfather movie was set in Staten Island, NYC. And instead of the Corleone family being a powerful Mafia clan dealing in illegal gambling and racketeering, it was instead a street gang dealing narcotics and firearms all through the tri-state area. The director for this flick would probably have to be Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) or maybe the gangsta flick impresario himself, Martin Scorcese. Which director would do a better job is debatable, but the choice for the soundtrack would be easy as cake. Hands down, it would have to be Raekwon the Chef's masterpiece debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
So how good was the Cuban Linx album? Good enough that I had to do that elaborate "Godfather" set-up just to introduce it. How dope was it? Dope enough that I stayed up late burning the midnight oil coming up with ill analogies, similes and metaphors to describe the album. Try this one on for size ... If the songs on Cuban Linx were crystallized and distilled into liquid form, the resulting serum could be used to inoculate wack mc's against the dreaded SMS (sucka-mc-syndrome).
Okay enough of that - let's get serious. Quite simply, Rae's debut album was the Wu-Tang at its best. Excluding maybe the Wu's debut 36th Chambers and Ghost's Supreme Clientele, the argument could be made that Cuban Linx was the single best Wu outing. RZA was ridiculous with the beats throughout the LP, and the Clan (Chef, Ghost, Deck, Meth, Masta Killa, The GZA, etc) murdered every track.
EXHIBIT 1: The first single off the album, Glaciers of Ice. Yep, you neophytes, the Wu was freaking all that "ice" vernacular before all dem wanksta clones bit the Clan to death. The beat Rza cooked up for this song sounded like a chorus of avenging church bells, and Rae, Ghost and Masta Killa laced the raucous track with wicked gusto. It served as an excellent appetizer for heads craving the solo release from the portly Wu lyricist.
EXHIBIT 2: Rainy Dayz. This melancholy track started off with a sample from John Woo's 1989 classic shoot-em-up flick, The Killer. (If you haven't seen this flick, go to BlockBusters now and cop that shit - Chow Yun-Fat shoots up a storm in this one). If heads thought the Wu was a one-dimensional rap outfit, a listen to this track would crash that premise to pieces. It was one of those street tracks that depicted the gritty project life, but there was a hope that permeated through it that took the track to the next level.
EXHIBIT 3: Verbal Intercouse. The line up for this joint featured Rae, Ghost and Nas and God's Son scorched it with what has to be one of the best series of opening lines ever.
[quote]"Through the lights, cameras and action, glamour, glitter and gold / I unfold the scroll / plant seeds to stampede the globe / When I'm deceased / By then the beast will rise like yeast / To conquer peace / Leaving savages to roam in the streets."[/quote]
Y'all don't even know, I could go on like this for all the tracks on the album. Why do you think so many cats out there still get a hip-hop hard-on whenever the Iron Flag emblazoned with the mighty "W" is waved? It's because the Wu wasn't just a crew putting out music, it was a goddamn movement. Damn, I've gotten myself all hyper over this one. I'm about to slip in my "36 chambers" CD and zone the fuck out.
Cop that new "Lex Diamonds" album when it hits stores today too. Staten Island, stand up!
Written by George Hagan for SOHH.com