NEW YORK — [artist id="1025"]Wu-Tang Clan[/artist] member [artist id="1190"]Raekwon[/artist] the Chef will be forever lauded, not just because of his lyrical exploits on proper Wu-Tang Clan LPs, but because his solo debut, 1995's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is one of the greatest rap albums ever.
But nostalgia can only take you so far; you have to live in the here and now eventually. Over a decade later, Raekwon finds himself a relevant MC again after cooking up that great product once more. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II was released on Tuesday, and some have already certified the album as a classic. With RZA sharing production with J. Dilla, Dr. Dre and others, and the Chef opening up the recording session to Beanie Sigel, the LOX and his Clan, the LP takes off where the last album ended.
On Tuesday night, Rae, in conjunction with former Mobb Deep manager turned DVD producer Littles, threw an album-release celebration at Santos Party House that featured the likes of Ice-T, Q-Tip and host Diddy.
"Attendance is mandatory," Ice-T said onstage early in the night. "Hip-hop is on life support. Raekwon is gonna try to bring [it] back to life."
Ice then blasted part of the hip-hop hipster movement. "F--- that happy-ass rap they doing," he ranted. "If you do not have power, you should not hold the mic."
Marley Marl, Q-Tip, Redman, Erick Sermon and the Brand Nubian also joined the celebration. Craig G got on the mic and spit his verse from "The Symphony." Later, Redman started to perform "Tonight's Da Night."
Ghostface officially kicked off the Raekwon show with "Bring Da Ruckus."
Ghost then shouted out the new album. "Cuban Linx, n---a. Make some noise for the album. Tell 'em, Puff."
Diddy then took the mic. "New York, stand up! Hip-hop, stand up. We all started together. Wu-Tang, Bad Boy, Big," Diddy said. "We're gonna get real buck f---in' wild in here. We're gonna take it back to the tunnel. Are y'all ready for Raekwon the Chef?"
Ghost then went into "Fish" and was followed by a snow flurry of big hits by Raekwon, Ghost and Cappadonna (who was also onstage). The new Wu-Banger "10 Bricks" was sandwiched in between the classics "Ice Cream" and "Daytona 500." Later came "Camay" and the most popular record of the night, "C.R.E.A.M."
Diddy then realized he never properly introduced the man of the hour and put the spotlight on Rae. "Make some noise for a living legend, Raekwon the Chef!"
Rae took the opportunity to address the doubters. "They say that n---a's washed up," he said. "Look what happened."
The Staten Island general moved onto the new album's Dr. Dre-produced "Catalina," then threw it back to "Incarcerated Scarfaces" and "Heaven and Hell."
After the "Wu Oh," Rae compared his battle to sell records against Jay-Z, who also dropped The Blueprint 3 this week, to David vs. Goliath.
"Good luck with your album, sir," he openly addressed Young Hov and wished Jay the best of luck from the bottom of his heart.
"Flying Daggers" was the last Clan record before Rae gave up the mic to Melle Mel and Grand Puba.
"Shout to MTV!" the Chef yelled.
Rae's party is the first of many in New York that coincide with MTV's week-long VMA celebration. Check back at MTV News for the latest from all the parties and high-profile concerts going on up until the big show this Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET.
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards will take place this Sunday, September 13, at 9 p.m. ET. Stay tuned all week long for news on additional performers and celebrity presenters.