RAEKWON – ‘ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX… PT II’

Raekwon-OnlyBuilt4CubanLinxIICover

Whilst many of today’s Hip Hop fans searched for ‘leaked’ Blueprint 3 tracks, the nostalgia-filled ’90s rap fan eagerly anticipated the sequel to one of the most seminal albums in Hip Hop history. Raekwon, the Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, released Only Built For Cuban Linx over a decade ago; an ensemble of unforgiving street tales, haunting productions and excerpts from Hollywood and Hong Kong’s cinema greats. In the final quarter of 2009, the Chef returns to add to a legacy which still reverberates in hip hop folklore as legendary…

Only Built… Part II sees a welcome return of unadulterated hardcore rap, which has now become ancient thanks to autotune and R&B beauties. Raekwon’s delivery is sharp and precise as ever, evident on the first joint “House of Flying Daggers” as he and rejuvenated Wu members Ghostface, Method Man and Inspectah Deck trade verses with an inspired Clan chorus to match.

Whilst RZA took charge of production on 1995’s classic, the credits are shared this time round with maestros such as Pete Rock, The Alchemist and the late J Dilla having a hand in providing beats which all unsurprisingly, pay homage to the successful score of the previous Cuban Linx chronicles. Even the good Doctor takes a break from annually postponing his Detox album to provide a West Coast cut for the Staten Island native.

Although Raekwon still has a preference for street tales and Kung Fu samples, the tracks sound far from recycled as the Iron Chef’s raspy tones sound matured when listening to tracks; most notably “Have Mercy” and “Ason Jones.” But whilst guest features from the Wu members point towards a reunion, it’s the present day generals of Jadakiss, Styles P and Beanie Sigel whose cameos leave a lasting mark on the album.

In short, no, Cuban Linx II doesn’t better its predecessor, but rather celebrates it 14 years later. Staying true to Wu legacy, the album is raw, unapologetic and steers clear of Top 40 material. Raekwon’s second instalment is truly built for those of us whose days of headbopping to grimy cuts will never die.

Henry Yanney

Watch Raekwon’s interview with SoulCulture:TV HERE.