September 24, 2009

Kiss the Ring - Why Only Built for Cuban Linx II is the album of the year

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 I’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. Dre’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, “if you saw the game don’t tell me” immediately upon every new conversation. I don’t listen to leaks, I don’t download, and I don’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 I’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. “They think I’m out of shape so I have to jog their memory…” Nah Jay, this is tired, the flow is weak and the lyrics aren’t interesting. I don’t care if you have Obama’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. I’ve listened to Blueprint 3 twice all the way through and I’m done with it. With OB4CL2 I’ve been thinking about for the past 2 weeks and it hasn’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 “I pop off like a mobster boss” A perfect start to Only Built…, the loose mobster themes fit an aging Rae really well. Ghostface speaks on his position “Rae’s job is to make sure the coke is fluffy while I politic his birthday bash with Puffy.” Method Man does as well, “got a lot of piff to puff, and I ain’t come for fisticuffs or for the cop that wanna click the cuffs.” 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 “Sonny’s Missing” is a great example,

“they had him spread out
T position, opened his jeans up
Shot him in the leg bone, he rose up like King Tut…”

And on New Wu…

“hibernation yo, switch up, live-r nation, fly information
Vivid vacation, deliberation moments
Move like 91 Romans, cloning everything
Gents only, the rent’s on the stove, I’m in rome.”

This is not radio friendly :) As if the songs with no hooks, one verse, and the skits all over the place didn’t tell you. The stories and imagery continue on Penitentiary, Baggin Crack, and I could go on, it’s almost all great. Champion hoodies, throw back clothes, jewels, drugs, fiend, gangsters, jail, etc., it’s Rae at his finest.

Ghostface is all over the album and contributes one of the better verses I’ve heard in a while on the Necro produced, “Gihad.” While socializing with a pregnant blonde he gets caught by her man “like a crooked cop, Richard Gere, big smirk on, getting my cock sucked.” 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 don’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 “10 Bricks” with weak verses from everyone on the track. Also, the Dre produced “Catalina” which just doesn’t work at any point, “About Me” is much better.

“Kiss the Ring” is the perfect way to close out the album sampling Elton John’s “Goodbye yellow brick road.” The intro sets it up as the crew popping bottles in a Wu Familia / mobster celebration. The Insspectah Deck hook paints things perfectly.

“When I step inside, kiss the ring, Wu Familia
La Cosa Nostra, it’s our thing
So salute, and toast to the best who done it
Murder rap shit, I spit, for the vets who love it”

And Rae continues…

“Blood from a horse on your spread, you tried to play me
Now I’m coughing up dough on your head you just a baby”

And a fitting end with Masta Killa

“Ya’ll rap cats had your last win, toast the kings
It’s WU TANG, it’s our thing, kiss the ring.”

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.

Posted By KritiKal at 07:18 AM

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