Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...

It isn’t often that an MC can use the fact that he’d appeared on another MC’s album to big himself up, but that’s exactly how it worked for Ghostface Killah when he rapped, “The world can’t touch Ghost/Purple Tape, Rae co-host,” on “Mighty Healthy” from Ghostface’s sophomore album, 2000’s Supreme Clientele. The “Purple Tape” he refers to is Raekwon’s debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, released in 1995 as a special purple-tinted cassette. Co-host is an accurate depiction of Ghost’s role here, the guesting MC appearing on 14 of Cuban Linx’s 18 tracks. “Me and Ghost, we was doing a lot of writing together,” Raekwon tells Apple Music. “One rhyme said something about ‘only built for Cuban links n***as who pull strings,’ so right there, it hit me. I'm like, 'That shit sounds like the biggest chain of them all.' It can't be broken. It’s the most gleamingest chain that comes in the party, and you know when you see n***as with those on, those ain't your everyday n***as. Those n***as is different.” Different is exactly what Wu-Tang was—a prodigious nine-member kung-fu-film-influenced rap group forged in New York City’s least recognized borough, Staten Island. The impact of their Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album and the first of the crew’s critically and commercially successful solo outings (Method Man’s Tical and Old Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version) set the precedent that Rae made sure to uphold. “You got some dudes that got a lot to say, but don't really be passionate about what they feel and where they want to go in life,” Raekwon says. “When I made my solo album, I wanted to be one of the greats. Because I studied, I did my homework, I lived it.” Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is the by-product of collaborative brain trust Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and producer and creative mastermind RZA. The album delivered the Abbot’s most dynamic and ornate production to date, over which Rae and company delivered immaculate tales of hustling and the goods and experiences people with an elevated taste level lusted after. Songs like “Wu-Gambinos,” “Criminology,” “Incarcerated Scarfaces,” and “Glaciers of Ice” defined the lifestyle, while selections like “Ice Cream” and “Verbal Intercourse” positioned the MCs as the penultimate storytellers of their era. There are additional guest spots from Clan members Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, RZA, and a fresh-out-of-jail Cappadonna, as well as a single non-Wu MC, Nas. According to Rae, this was all an extension of the mission to present the very best of everything and everyone he knew. “For us, it was like everything had to be silk,” Raekwon says. “It had to be perfected, from titles to the way we set off on the mic, the skits, to outfits, clothes, colors. All of these things was something that I was passionate about, because I wanted to win.”

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