There is no specific ritual that Raekwon goes through on August 1. In fact, the Chef woke up this morning not even realizing that it was the 17th anniversary of his classic solo debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…
When Rae dropped OB4CL on August 1, 1995, his group, the Wu-Tang Clan, was already taking the world by storm with their kung-fu-themed rap standouts. With Cuban Linx, the Chef took the Wu’s already familiar sound and added a mafioso twist by crafting a cinematic crime narrative throughout the course of the 18-track opus. Before the LP was released, Raekwon knew he had an album that would resonate with rap fans everywhere, even if the people at his label did not.
“When I made that album I had so many visions for it; I was a super-visionary,” he told MTV News over the phone on Wednesday. “I would try to create everything to prove to the world, to prove to my company that this album is classic; it’s ahead of its time.”
Not everyone was a believer. “I remember a lot of times people didn’t understand that I was a dreamer on the level that I was with this project. And to be able to know that it attacked the world in the great way that it did and that it’s legendary, all I can remember is telling people ’I told you so, I told you so.’ … I told them then it was a classic.”
With songs like the sinister-sounding “Criminology” or the dramatic “Glaciers of Ice,” Rae, along with the album’s co-star Ghostface Killah, left a rap blueprint that would inspire future generations of MCs. Even R&B superstar Chris Brown paid homage, first at the 2012 MTV VMAs when he danced to Wu-Tang Clan’s “Protect Ya Neck” and then again in June when he performed on “The Today Show” wearing the Polo brand Snow Beach pullover which Rae made famous in the Clan’s 1993 “Can It All be So Simple” music video. “I love that kid Chris Brown for that. He just really been showin’ his Wu support forever to me,” Chef said.
Though Rae has released a number of highly regarded LPs, Cuban Linx, or The Purple Tape as fans have so affectionately dubbed it, remains his crown jewel. In 2009, Raekwon revisited his classic with the carefully crafted Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II and he intends to supply the demand and complete a trilogy.
The Chef says fans can expect Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. III before 2014, but he plans to drop a currently untitled project first. “I know that, at the end of the day, people are paying attention to The Three, and my thing is when I give them The Three, I wanna give you The Three and I’m gonna give it to you at the level you can respect it,” he said in his usual cryptic speech before switching to talking in the third person. “I just want people to be open and understanding that he is concerned with us wanting to have Three, and at the same times, he gonna do other things to impress the masses as well.”
What is your favorite song from Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…? Drop them in the comments!