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RAEKWON, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Loud
Doesn't it ever stop? That's the question that many artists, record biz execs and heads are asking themselves these days. The reason? The Wu has let loose another shot from the chambers: Shallah Raekwon the Chef is the third (and not last) Clan member to release a solo joint within the last two years. After recent strong solo debuts by Meth and Ol' Dirty Bastard it might seem like a good idea to let some time pass before delivering the next shipment of that old Wu-Tang sh--. Obviously not though as Wu-Tang seems intent on locking down a large portion, if not the whole damn rap industry, because on the real this latest chess move is no joke. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... features numerous members of the Clan, including the presence of the Ghost Face Killer, Tony Starks (who appears to be without a solo deal at this time), throughout, as well as appearances by Blue Raspberry, Nas and Cappuccino. This is the fifth RZA-produced album in the past two years and it seems that the beats are never-ending and constantly improving as the whole disc displays tight-ass production punctuated by verbal gymnastics by the Chef and friends. The album has the same dark and despairing overtones that are the Wu-Tang trademark, but there are a number of uptempo tracks helping to break up and vary the flow of the album. It is hard to pick out the highlights of the disc because its quality is so consistent, but there are a few tracks that deserve a first listen. The first number, "Knuckleheadz," sets it off lovely, while "Rainy Dayz" uses some eerie screeching noises and plaintive crooning to give the song a crazy feel. "Guillotine" may be the best track on the album; the fat instrumental hook used as the intro to Meth's "Tical" is paired with a punching bassline to allow Chef, Ghost Face, Inspektah Deck and the Gebius to wreck shop. Especially peep Genius, who rips sh-- so hard that my head bobbin' turned to neck snappin'. "Glaciers of Ice," the current single, and "Verbal Intercourse," featuring Tony Starks and Nas, are also strong tracks, while "Ice Cream" and "Wu Gambinos" let Clan members including Method Man, RZA and Master Killa flex skills. The CD also includes a bonus track, "North Star," not found on the cassette version. Overall this album is the strongest Wu-Tang release yet, and the Chef appears to have been putting in work, because his lyrics and delivery have improved. The only drawback to the album is actually a bonus; for a solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... features a lot of guest appearances, but with the all-star lineup, who can really complain? If heads sleep on this one, their name might as well be Rap VanWinkle because this disc will be receiving play for quite a while. Most classics do, don't they?
Click here to find out how to buy this album.

-- Kawon

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