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Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

by Raekwon

Released August 1, 1995 via Loud Records / RCA Records

Reviewed August 6, 2020

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Ice Cream (30%), Guillotine (Swordz) (29%), Criminology (22%)

Raekwon and his henchman maneuver like hired guns to make this mafioso cinema enactment a crown jewel of Wu-Tang lore. Atop razor-sharp beats from RZA, the two lead characters, Lou Diamond (Raekwon) and Tony Starks (Ghostface Killah), carve up ghetto tales in a language all of their own. Having perfected the art of diction, Rae and Ghost talk the talk in a clever and commanding way that few can replicate. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx set a standard for East Coast hip-hop, and 25 years later it still proves to be amongst the greatest debuts of all time. – Enth (9.5/10)

Although not as unique as Supreme Clientele or as cold-hearted as Liquid Swords, Raekwon etched his own lane in the Wu-Tang legacy with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. The RZA’s beats always feel tailor-made for his Wu associates, and that is especially the case here. The variety of soul and grit in the sampling complements Raekwon’s wheelhouse as an MC; although he’s mafioso, the slower beats show off a side that we hadn’t really heard in prior appearances. This is Raekwon’s peak as a solo artist, but it was merely the beginning of his journey to becoming a legend. – Ben (Synth) (9/10)

Raekwon is the Chef because he's "cookin’ up some marvelous shit to get your mouth watering.” Delivering a delicious serving of New York's underbelly on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, this classic is commonly referred to as the “purple tape” due to its cassette case colour. Any solo Wu album from 1994 to 1996 does not miss. You could go as far as saying that they're all absolute classics in their own respects, an unheard-of feat in the rap game at this point in history. NWA may have done something similar on the West Coast a short time prior, but Wu-Tang is a completely different animal. Dusty beats, Eastern influenced samples, mafioso mantras, and an overall vibe that no other act has captured quite as naturally as the Wu-Tang Clan. Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is one of the most well-done solo Wu projects, and in the overarching world of hip-hop, it remains among the cream of the crop. – Peter (9/10)

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is simply a masterwork of passionate narrative within the gangster rap subgenre. The very nature of this area of hip-hop is that of talking about achievements and conquest, of braggadocio. And although Raekwon and his co-star Ghostface Killah aren’t especially tentative when listing their accolades as certified members of the street, there’s a creative nuance and an exquisite knack for storytelling while they do so. The two have great chemistry among the always impeccable RZA production and continually one-up each other with sensational wordplay, clever punchlines, and explicit chronicling that heavily contributed to the standard set by the so-called “golden age” of hip-hop. – Pax (8.8/10)

Enth: 9.5/10 | Alan: 9.3/10 | Ben (Synth): 9/10 | Cam: 9/10 | Jared: 9/10

Pax: 8.8/10 | Dominick: 8.6/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10 | Peter: 8.5/10


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