Friday, Sept. 4, 2009

Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II Meets Expectations

By Evan Rytlewski
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Official streams of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II went out today, and the album is every bit the swift Tim boot kick to the head Wu-Tang fans hoped it would be. It's a remarkable, beast of a record—it's 21 tracks long—and it manages what few Wu-Tang projects have this decade, taking that classic, grimy, cinematic Wu-Tang sound and making it fresh and vital again.

Raekwon is on the top of his game here, as his sideman Ghostface and, perhaps most surprisingly, Inspectah Deck, who's all over the record but more than earns his prominent placement, but the real brilliance is the record's crisp, updated production, which sticks to the spirit, but definitely not the sound, of RZA's '90s work. Dusty beats have been replaced by crisp, booming loops from J Dilla, Pete Rock, The Alchemist and Dr. Dre, as well as glorious, name-making contributions from lesser knowns like ATL, Scram Jones and Icewater. Every beat aims for the bleachers; most make it there; many are grand slams.

The first Only Built 4 Cuban Linx earned its reputation over time. This sequel arrives an instant classic.
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