September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 Iâ€™m on my lunch break and tearing through a parking lot on my way to the local Best Buy. I had basically given up on Raekwon ever releasing a follow up Cuban Linx album and assumed the album would be relegated to the same place of Dr. Dreâ€™s Detox. But to my surprise it turns out this was actually going to happen.
Basically when I decide to purchase an album I become like the obsessed sports fan who has to work late on the day of the big game. He walks around with ear plugs shouting, â€œif you saw the game donâ€™t tell meâ€ immediately upon every new conversation. I donâ€™t listen to leaks, I donâ€™t download, and I donâ€™t read reviews. I wait until Tuesday, lunch time, and haul ass to wherever. Hoping I still have time to swing by a drive thru, listen to a few tracks, and browse through the production credits.
So after two weeks what are my impressions? Well, to understand why this album is so great Iâ€™m going to turn to Jay-Z. He also happened to release an album the same week. I was 15 years old when Vol. 2 came out. I have to say Jay-Z was everywhere, every single year of my young life and arguably the most consistent and prolific artist. After the completely lackluster American Gangster and Kingdom Come shudder I would say this was his last chance before my opinion of him would change for sure.
In a word, Blueprint 3 was forgettable. â€œThey think Iâ€™m out of shape so I have to jog their memoryâ€¦â€ Nah Jay, this is tired, the flow is weak and the lyrics arenâ€™t interesting. I donâ€™t care if you have Obamaâ€™s phone number or hang out with Oprah. The beats are all synth-shit, for lack of a better word. To sum it all up and get back to the topic. Iâ€™ve listened to Blueprint 3 twice all the way through and Iâ€™m done with it. With OB4CL2 Iâ€™ve been thinking about for the past 2 weeks and it hasnâ€™t left my CD player, iPod, or desktop computer playlist. As of now Hov has sold eleventy billion copies and Rae just under 100k, standard I guess.
The album opens with an excellent J-Dilla beat, a tried and true GZA hook, and Inspectah Deck who is on lyrical steroids from the jump. Rhymin the whole fuckin 16 with â€œI pop off like a mobster bossâ€ A perfect start to Only Builtâ€¦, the loose mobster themes fit an aging Rae really well. Ghostface speaks on his position â€œRaeâ€™s job is to make sure the coke is fluffy while I politic his birthday bash with Puffy.â€ Method Man does as well, â€œgot a lot of piff to puff, and I ainâ€™t come for fisticuffs or for the cop that wanna click the cuffs.â€ Wu-Tang is back indeed.
Rae not to be outdone by Ghost, Meth, etc. is best with the imagery, painting scenes really well in your mind in a few lines or even just a few words. The interrogation story on â€œSonnyâ€™s Missingâ€ is a great example,
â€œthey had him spread out
T position, opened his jeans up
Shot him in the leg bone, he rose up like King Tutâ€¦â€
And on New Wuâ€¦
â€œhibernation yo, switch up, live-r nation, fly information
Vivid vacation, deliberation moments
Move like 91 Romans, cloning everything
Gents only, the rentâ€™s on the stove, Iâ€™m in rome.â€
This is not radio friendly :) As if the songs with no hooks, one verse, and the skits all over the place didnâ€™t tell you. The stories and imagery continue on Penitentiary, Baggin Crack, and I could go on, itâ€™s almost all great. Champion hoodies, throw back clothes, jewels, drugs, fiend, gangsters, jail, etc., itâ€™s Rae at his finest.
Ghostface is all over the album and contributes one of the better verses Iâ€™ve heard in a while on the Necro produced, â€œGihad.â€ While socializing with a pregnant blonde he gets caught by her man â€œlike a crooked cop, Richard Gere, big smirk on, getting my cock sucked.â€ Who then attempts to kill Ghost. In a plead for his life Ghost emphasizes her slut-like tendencies and manages to grab the gun before things get too heated. My words obviously donâ€™t do it any justice here.
There are solid guest appearances from non-Wu members Jadakiss, Styles P, and Beanie Sigel who all add to the album and take nothing away. The only low points to me are the J Dilla produced â€œ10 Bricksâ€ with weak verses from everyone on the track. Also, the Dre produced â€œCatalinaâ€ which just doesnâ€™t work at any point, â€œAbout Meâ€ is much better.
â€œKiss the Ringâ€ is the perfect way to close out the album sampling Elton Johnâ€™s â€œGoodbye yellow brick road.â€ The intro sets it up as the crew popping bottles in a Wu Familia / mobster celebration. The Insspectah Deck hook paints things perfectly.
â€œWhen I step inside, kiss the ring, Wu Familia
La Cosa Nostra, itâ€™s our thing
So salute, and toast to the best who done it
Murder rap shit, I spit, for the vets who love itâ€
And Rae continuesâ€¦
â€œBlood from a horse on your spread, you tried to play me
Now Iâ€™m coughing up dough on your head you just a babyâ€
And a fitting end with Masta Killa
â€œYaâ€™ll rap cats had your last win, toast the kings
Itâ€™s WU TANG, itâ€™s our thing, kiss the ring.â€
5 stars/5 all around, I pick up something new each time through the album and enjoy it more every single day. A modern day classic and definitely not forgettable.