Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… surpassed all expectations in 1995. Wu-Tang was hurling towards greatness and Raekwon, the MC with most time on Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was up next. Hopes were high, and yet, Cuban Linx went platnium, embraced by fans and becoming a critical triumph. The New York Times named it one of the best albums of the ’95; Rolling Stone included it in their list of Essential Recordings Of The ‘90s. XXL’s 2005 feature, The Making Of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, furthered its status, giving longtime fans an in-depth look at its making process.
This year, Cuban Linx marks its fourteenth anniversary with a long-talked about sequel, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II. Rae’s legacy still rests largely on part one, which is something he knows and was very aware of when we spoke. “Motherfuckers love that shit. I know! That’s my rep right there,” he insisted, before adding: “That’s why I wanted to add more life to the original story and give fans what they’ve been asking for. We continued the new one exactly as if it was a movie sequel.” The addition of Dr. Dre and Marley Marl on the sequel adds clout, but it likely changes the overall feel of the original–as does guest spots by Busta Rhymes and Bun B. But Rae disagreed, explaining: “We kept the same vibe. I ain’t stupid. I went back and made sure that shit was compatible. RZA sat for hours and guided everyone through exactly what we needed. Trust me, this is what fans of the first one have been waiting for.”
Ahead of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II, I spoke at length with Rae about the original Cuban Linx, hearing back-stories and breaking down certain tracks individually. Could Cuban Linx ever have a fitting bookend? Here’s what The Chef had to say before the coming of part two.
When was the last time you sat down and heard Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… all the way through?
I probably heard it again around three months ago. It had been a while before that though.
What did you think of it fourteen years later?
It brought me back to a different time. It was when we straight didn’t give a fuck about what people thought. I was just trying to be a good emcee. RZA was just trying to be a good producer. This was before all the money kicked in. I was thinking about me standing on my block and me trying to get off that motherfucker. I was formulating about feeding my family the best way I knew how. At that time, I would just be earning money the negative way, you know? So it was about making people all over the world respect the Wu and what we were doing. Continue reading “Cuban Linx Revisited: Interview With Raekwon”→
Over the weekend, The Beastie Boys released a 12-inch (limited pressing of 5000) off their upcoming album, The Hot Sauce Committee. It’s a song they debuted at Bonnaroo called “Too Many Rappers” and features Nas. The beat’s hard and it’s interesting hearing these guys together on one track.
El Fantasmas Espejo (Part 1 of 2) is: “A mix I just did that’s from a large collection I was given 2 to 3 months ago from a former local radio DJ. It ranges from psych, soul, chicano anthems, covers, rock, balada, etc. It’s all over the place. All Latin records, all OGs, none re-issued and some below radar..til now,” according to AGE, Bay Area record junkie and local DJ/producer.
AGE’s last mix was a longtime favorite of mine. Listen and download his new one, El Fantasmas Espejo (which translates to “The Haunted Mirror”). Thanks holmes!
We’re big Edan fans, so we’re always stoked when he does something new. Here’s a couple radio shows he did recently. According to him, they’re “very casual”. Show 1 has been around for a while; show 2 was recorded a couple months back. Both are really good (and long, over 2 hours each!). Part 2 is flooded with some of my favorite songs ever. Supposedly, there will be more of these radio shows to come. For now, check these out!
After one listen (while skipping songs I’ve already heard), Mayer Hawthorne’s new full length, A Strange Arrangement, is pretty enjoyable. Expectations for it were high since his first single, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”, had us geeked for months. Other songs on the new one are much better than his second single, “I Wish It Would Rain“, which isn’t bad but didn’t surpass the (unfairly) high expectations I had for it.
The songs on A Strange Arrangement are varied, some are Motown-ish (“Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'”), some are slow burners (“Shiny And New”) and others, total floor-stompers (“The Ills”). After an initial listen, “Let Me Know”, a killer track, stands out as Mayer abandons his falsetto steez for an almost Neil Diamond-esque delivery. And it works. “One Track Mind” sounds like a Marvelettes album cut and “Shiny And New”, a well-placed ballad, rounds out the album nicely. The only setback is his cover of The New Holidays’ “Maybe So, Maybe No” which, in his defense, is impossible to cover due to its delicate arrangement and insurmountable cult status; and “Prelude”, an unnecessary 20-second intro of vocals.
For a debut with immense hype, Mayer lives up to high hopes, delivering 12 self-produced songs that aren’t cheesy or overly imitative. In fact, between tracks #3-#11 lies an almost perfect EP. And while his voice isn’t the greatest, he understands soul music and knows how to write catchy songs. I’ve read about people questioning his authenticity, but being authentic doesn’t make your songs good– writing good songs do. I plan on covering this more for my various outlets as the September 8th release date nears (where it will come with 2 new songs on a free 4-inch single!).
Later this month, Numero Group will put out Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday, the long lost followup to 24-Carat Black’s now-revered, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. NERDTORIOUS features a lot of Numero’s stuff and we’ll keep doing so as long as they keep coming correct like this. The packaging, the histories, the photos (how dope is the one above?) and the music itself, are all stellar examples of Numero’s excellence. Here is Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday‘s backstory and some song snippets from it, including a lost track that Numero left off the upcoming release… Continue reading “oh yesterday came suddenly”→