Raekwon, one of the most lyrically gifted members of of the 9-deep Wu-Tang Clan, dropped his classic debut in the mid-90’s. Rae is a great complex lyricist, extremely grimey wit the rhymes and up there with Mr. Meth himself. It took me a while to get used to RZA’s weird production style but now that I’m used to it I see he’s a genius.
1) Striving for Perfection
Rae and his guest through the album, fellow Wu-head Ghost Face Killer talk back and forth about their last attempt at a big payoff. The music in the background is tight, probably some old kung-fu movie shit. Sets the tone for the album perfect.
2) Knuckleheadz ft. Ghost Face Killer AKA Tony Starks, Golden Arms AKA Lucky Hands
Raekwon and co. lay tight rhymes over a hard drum track with a kinda bouncy piano chord. (Good)
3) Knowledge God
RZA shines here, the beat is dark and creepin with a little trumpet blare and a sinister piano, and the hook is backed by a 70’s movie-type wistful violin sample. Gotta hear it to know what I’m talkin bout. Rae carries the song nicely. (Excellent)
4) Criminology ft. Ghost Face Killer
Starts off with a clip from the movie Scarface, goes into a strong drum beat with a 70’s-style suspense music sample. Rae and Ghost Face lay their usual great verses. (Excellent)
5) Incarcerated Scarfaces
Begins with a clip from an old Japanese kung-fu movie, which you’ll hear throughout most of the album. RZA’s beat on here is excellent, a dark cut with a disjointed piano. Raekwon fits it nicely as always with hard, grimey lyrics. (Excellent)
6) Rainy Dayz ft. Ghost Face Killer, Blue Raspberry
Starts with a woman singing the hook over the same music from the intro track. A kung-fu movie clip is cleverly used. The beat here is nice, dark and sinister. All verses tight as usual, but I felt the screechiness in the chorus unnecessary and the woman’s singing a little overdramatic. (Good)
7) Guillotine (Swordz) ft. Ghost Face Killer, Inspectah Deck AKA Rollie Fingerz, Genius
This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The beat is crazy and sinister, Inspectah and GZA/Genius are on this track! Great shit, always laugh at the lyric “hypnotized wit hypnosis.” (Excellent)
8) Can It All Be So Simple (Remix) ft. Ghost Face Killer
A remix of a track off the Wu’s first album 36 Chambers. Starts with a skit about someone bein shot in a shootout. The beat is real cool, pretty laid back. Rae and Ghost are good on here and the girl wit the chorus gives it an eerie feel. (Great)
9) Shark Niggas (Biters)
About biters. Rae talks about them with Ghost, no rapping or beat.
10) Ice Water ft. Ghost Face Killer, Cappachino
Another laid-back beat, nothin that special (for this album). Lyrics are still top-qual tho. (Good)
11) Glaciers of Ice ft. Ghost Face Killer, Masta Killa
Starts out with Rae talkin about ice, goes into a song about riches with a really good, dangerous organ-like laced beat. The chorus, a Mariah Carey-style whine, isn’t that good, but each Wu member on here delivers a good verse. (Great)
12) Verbal Intercourse ft. Nas, Ghost Face Killer
DAMN. The beat laced with a violin is great, but this has to be one of the most lyrically proficient tracks on the album. Nas, on some early 90’s shit back when he was still ’matic, introduces the track with a fiery-as-hell verse, and Rae and Ghost hold their own. (Excellent)
13) Wisdom Body ft. Ghost Face Killer
Starts off with a pimp’s monologue about hoes (probably from a movie). Goes into a song about women (of course), but Rae talks about meeting the woman of his dreams, instead of hoes. The beat is again great, a deep piano counterbalanced by a whistle. (Excellent)
14) Spot Rusherz
One of the few solo joints on here, Rae kills another piano-ish beat with a story flow, grimey as hell. (Excellent)
15) Ice Cream ft. Method Man, Ghost Face Killer
With no ado, over a crazy, dark killers’ beat with cries of the damned in the background, Meth opens the song with a few crazy bars before Ghost comes in with his great verse. Of course Rae comes correct; another one of the best songs on a great album. (Excellent)
16) Wu-Gambinos ft. Ghost Face Killer, Method Man, RZA, Masta Killa
Starts off with a clip of an FBI agent asking the Wu clan to kill a drug lord in central america. An insane piano-laced beat over a whiney siren, Meth comes in with the chorus and a nuts verse. Everyone kills it on here, even RZA. (Excellent)
17) Heaven & Hell ft. Ghost Face Killer
An okay, harp-like string beat sees Ghost and Rae trade rhymes crazy on some gangsta story shit. (Great)
18) North Star (Jewels)
Rae ends the album with another solo track. The beat is great, an emotional string chorus that gives it a sad, regretful feel. Rae spits about doin what he gotta do for money to feed his kid. (Great)
Rating: 5/5 (Classic)
Only Built for Cuban Linx helped establish the gangsta phase of hip-hop and definitely the grimey style of NY in the 90’s. There is nothing wrong with the album, especially when you start to get used to RZA’s production. It helped establish the Wu as a rap powerhouse, and Raekwon as one of the greatest lyricists of the time.
My Recommendation: Pick this album up!! Don’t matter if you’re lookin for a good album, or if you wanna go back to the roots of new-school Hip Hop, or whatever, just buy this shit!