Published concurrently on Waxpoetics.com
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”