A Tale Of Two CD’s Part 2
Continued from A Tale Of Two Cd’s Part 1…
So now that I’ve expounded on the few successes and many shortcomings of The Blueprint 3 (though I will say if the spirit so moves you, by all means cop it) let us move on to another highly anticipated and critically acclaimed LP this quarter. Seems that this is the year for Emcee’s to follow up on the LP’s everyone has always deemed as an instantaneous classic.
Just as “The Blueprint” series is to Jay-Z what “The Carter” is to Lil’ Wayne, you cannot mention Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and not immediately think of Raekwon. Well that is if you aren’t among those bitten by the Wu-Tang bug back when the crew was its most viable as a unit…
OB4CL influenced the albums dropped by some of the best rappers during this time period, like Nas, Mobb Deep, Biggie and even Jay-Z. They might not wanna admit it but this album’s motif of Mobster tinged stories of the underworld caused the chain reaction of those artists to craft their respective albums of that time with the same pattern. But just in case you aren’t in full understanding yet, let’s go down the listing:
Raekwon’s “OB4CL…” dropped August 1st 1995…
Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” dropped June 25th 1996…
Nas’ “It Was Written” dropped July 2nd 1996…
Biggie’s “Life After Death” dropped March 25th 1997…
So for today’s Hip-Hop Trivia Question:
What was one of the main thematic elements all these LP’s had in common?
Take your time, I’ll wait and even be good enough to give you some
The Mafia related story telling and element later labeled as “Mafioso Rap“.
Now it’s not really debatable that Kool G Rap actually first brought the style to the table in the late eighties and carried it on into the nineties with classics like
Kool G Rap – “Ill Street Blues”
or to go back even further
Kool G Rap – “Road To The Riches”
but that’s another story all together. Let’s just stay where we are now and agree that though he pioneered it, the style and amount of artists using it wasn’t on the same level until OB4CL… came forth from Rae.
Moving forward, earlier this year via his Twitter account, several other blogs, sites and his own vlogs, Chef Raekwon started to drop hints and even a few tracks from it to garner more attention as to when Only Built 4 Cuban Linx pt. II… or The Purple Tape 2 as it’s also being marketed, would be making an appearance.
Before now, his last full length LP was “The Lex Diamond Story“ in 2003, which was preceded by another album “Immobilarity“ in 1999. I had both of them at one point but they never really got the kind of playback that the first installment of Cuban Linx did, though Immobilarity had a few tracks that did make it into my regular rotation like
Raekwon – “Live From New York”
but before those two albums dropped though, the first Purp hit the music scene back in 1995 causing havoc, destruction and instantaneous line for line comparison for any other LP’s that quarter and for the next two years as well. That may sound a little far fetched but I know that’s how long the CD stayed in the changer for me and just about everyone I’ve ever spoken to about it, at the very least.
Ok, wait…did you stop and calculate the time frame just now? For almost 15 years, Wu followers (myself included) have waited on this LP. Granted, between both of those other albums and right before this new addition, Rae did drop a few solid efforts in the form of compilations/mixtapes, some with and/or without Ghostface Killah including the stellar “Blood On The Chef’s Apron” the 2009 version, which according to most sources is where a good bit of OB4CL II buzz was laid, though none of the songs on it will appear on the finished product. Not to mention Rae dropped more than a few heatrocks on a couple of features here and there over the years too. I copped all of those mixes and though still within the same confines of Rae’s lyricism they just weren’t the same for me, though BOTCA was a great warm-up.
So with a bit of the background now out-of-the-way, let’s pick this one up the same way as the last post shall we?
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2…
I awoke on the Wednesday after obtaining the BP3 leaked retail copy to another Gmail from the same “Media Pirate” contact telling me he also had the retail copy of Purple Tape 2. I didn’t question him at all this time since he did have BP3 early. Instead I did my quick search and voila!, I had a copy at my disposal. I did my usual ritual of hitting the front door, boarding the coach and pressing play for the intro track to begin
Raekwon – “Return Of The North Star” feat. Popa Wu
Just with the addition of Popa Wu alone spittin’ that Nation of Gods and Earths ish was enough to get me hype, let alone the way the track faded in like it was picking up right where
Raekwon – “North Star”
left off. Brilliant way to set the tone and show that this album is going to be an extension of the first one. It was an intro though so it wasn’t long before one of the tracks that first leaked earlier this year jumped out at me
Raekwon – “House Of Flying Daggers” feat. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah & Method Man
Believe it or not, that’s J. Dilla (R.I.P.) production on that one. I’m also extremely impressed by Meth’s verses as well. Been a while since he’s blessed a track like that. If only his last solo effort was as good as that one verse. But he and Redman’s “Blackout 2” disc shows Tical still has the same kind of potential though. Anyway, this track is a monster and also helps to set the tone for the entire CD as well. Also the official video for that track is out now too and watching it is a must! Peep it here.
From now on out, Rae takes you on a serious trek into the World of Wu as we go from the clan attacking you to Rae showing his patented hood storytelling ability with
Raekwon – “Sonny’s Missing”
It’s a gritty, grimy and vivid as hell depiction of a gang initiation. He brings you right up front and center for that one, right? Yeah, I didn’t catch that being the situation he was speaking on at first either but on second listen I can see it all unfold clearly in the mind’s eye.
Still on the ride to work and Rae hits me with what sounds like his Stream of Consciousness flow in
Raekwon – “Pyrex Vision”
I have no words other than while just one sixteen or so long, Rae still goes in on this step by step of the mind frame one might be in while crafting “Street Pharmacudicals“.
Just when I’m getting past the vibe of that one, he goes and puts me on full alert with
Raekwon – “Cold Outside” feat. Ghostface & Suga Bang
I really don’t know what more to expect from this album now. It’s like I’m hearing Cuban Linx but from another perspective. Just as Blue Raspberry put her stamp on
Raekwon – “Rainy Dayz” feat. Ghostface Killah & Blue Raspberry
Suga Bang does the same but from a male perspective. Either way it’s the icing on the marvelous ish Rae and Ghost cook up with the rhymes for this one.
Next up is the RZA produced
Raekwon – “Black Mozart” feat. Inspectah Deck & RZA
which only goes to show that although RZA hasn’t been in the forefront for a while doesn’t mean he still can’t produce a banger or two. Add Rebel INS to the track and it’s a wrap. Plus The RZA wylin’ out the hook doesn’t hurt either. Instant headnod.
Ok, much as I hate to do it, I’m going to have to cut this one short. Normally I would go into each and every track for you, even the bonus ones that were added to the iTunes release but we are talking about 22 tracks here. I just don’t have that kind of time this go round. So I’m gonna end this one with another J. Dilla produced track
Raekwon – “10 Bricks” feat. Cappadonna & Ghostface
No long winded closing this time around either. If this short preview isn’t enough you can always check the homie @SunnyBricks‘ uStream page “The Stomping Grounds” where he previewed the whole LP for you as well the other night.
If that still ain’t enough to get you in the car and at the store picking a copy up, then IMHO you’re suspect on calling yourself a lover of noncommercial Hip-Hop anyway….maybe you should continue your meager attempts at being “Forever Young” and just stick with listening to BP3…