Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (commonly referred to as The Purple Tape) is the debut studio album by American rapper and Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon, released on August 1, 1995, by Loud Records and RCA Records. The album was loosely composed to play like a film with Raekwon as the "star," fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah as the "guest-star," and producer RZA as the "director." It features appearances from every member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The album also features debut appearances for affiliates Cappadonna and Blue Raspberry. It also features an acclaimed guest appearance from rapper Nas, which marked the first collaboration with a non-affiliated artist on a Wu-Tang related album. Upon its release, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 chart, and number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, while selling 130,000 copies in its opening week. The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 2, 1995, and later platinum on February 24, 2020. According to Nielsen Soundscan, it has sold 1.1 million copies in the United States alone as of 2009. Although it failed to acquire the same initial sales success as previous Wu-Tang solo albums, Cuban Linx achieved greater critical praise, with many complimenting its cinematic lyricism and production. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... has received acclaim from music critics and writers over the years, with many lauding it as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. With its emphasis on American Mafia insinuations and organized crime, the album is widely regarded as a pioneer of the mafioso rap subgenre. It is considered to have been highly influential on hip hop music over the next decade, being heavily referenced and influential on acclaimed albums such as Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt (1996) and The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death (1997). Along with GZA's Liquid Swords, Cuban Linx is the most acclaimed solo Wu-Tang work. Rolling Stone magazine placed it at number 480 on their The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2012, and at number 219 in the 2020 reboot of the list.Wikipedia
Not my most favorite album. While I can dig a good bit of WuTang, This solo project by Raekwon, not so much. The beats are fun and the delivery is pretty good but rarely great. It would be an easy 4 star rating if it weren't for the pseudo-mafioso lyrical nonsense. It's... less than great. I get that these cats were living rough on the streets of mid-90s NYC and were struggling (like a lot of youth of color at the time) to find an identity that could be "theirs" but, dang. It's kinda dumb. That knocked it down a couple of stars for me. But, like a lot of 90s hiphop, if you listen to it long enough, it grows on you a bit. The samples lifted from old movies are a WuTang staple and a lot of fun and while the content is generally crap, the delivery really is good and the writing is periodically brilliant despite the content. Not often enough to save it from a middling grade but enough to keep it from failing.
This album is pretty bad, you know what I mean? Like, I read the wiki and it was clearly not meant for me. Judging by the number of dislikes on youtube, I guess others don't like it as well, do you know what I mean. Yeah this album doesn't have memorable songs - the best one is about ice cream or something you know what I mean? and how about that "song" that's just two dudes smoking and drinking and saying you know what I mean repeatedly, you know what I mean? You know what I mean! You know, What I mean is you know what I mean. You know?
18 tracks, are you kidding me?! That's too much. Too much aggressive fronting and misogyny for me this early in the morning. I cannot connect with or relate to any of this and the album artwork is an assault on my eyes. Do not like.
Lyrically dense, loosely cinematic, and a showcase for almost every single member of the Clan, Cuban Linx is possibly the definitive Wu-Tang album. Rae and Ghost (plus RZA's production) are undoubtedly the stars here, but the features are the record's crown jewel: Inspectah Deck comes through with one of his all-time verses (second only to Triumph), Nas delivers what feels like a refined sequel to his legendary intro from Live at the Barbeque, and even Blue Raspberry's vocals provide a welcome contrast to the rugged coke rhymes that permeate the album. Repeated listens over the years trained me to skip over the skits, but on this revisiting I came to appreciate how they set the stage for the tracks they precede—the intro is a primer for both the album as a whole as well as the heist Ghost describes so vividly in Knuckleheadz, and the scuffle at the start of Can It Be's remix feels like an appropriate companion to his following verse ("Opened flesh, burgundy blood colored my Guess"). You could easily drop the whinging about the Ready to Die album cover, though. Key Tracks: Guillotine (Swordz), Verbal Intercourse, Wu-Gambinos
Asking me to review a rap album is just looking for trouble given my almost complete lack of experience with the genre, but since it's requested I'll take it seriously. The first thing that stands out to me is the length of the album which is normally a red flag. Few artists can really fill over an hour of space without a lot of filler or underproduced tracks but in this case it feels like it really points to what I found to be the real strength of the album, the production. While I think it's a slightly weaker back half, it's not by much and closes strong. The album also flows really well for all that space. I think this particularly shows in verses where multiple rappers are layered on top of one another. With less care to the mix it would be easy for the lyrics to get jumbled or lost but everything is really deftly crafted in a way that really enhances each section. Lyrically I found parts of the album to be a bit corny but mostly in a charming way. It also felt like ideas were repeated a bit *too* often across tracks, but the style and flow of the lyrics are really well done so the content being a bit repetitive really didnt become a bother. I still cant say I know much about the genre or that it's something I would sit down and listen to beginning to end regularly, but there's a huge amount of talent here that is impossible to ignore and not appreciate.
Catchy, groovy, through and through. Thought I would like it after “Tical” and was happy to be right.
Admittedly, I should dive deeper into Wu and Wu related discography.
Quite an exhausting listen, and I'm still someone who struggles with all the interstitial skits that pepper hip hop albums, but the music itself? Quality. A fairly murky and morose album, but Raekwon's lyrical facility is superb; both he and Ghostface Killa are all over those dusty Wu-style beats.
Like a fat man struggling to buckle his seat belt, the first few tracks just couldn’t click for me. But by Criminology we were off on an amazing and thrilling ride, all the way through Ice Cream, at which point it ran out of gas fast. If this was just track 4-15 it might even be in the running for a 5, but the bloat surrounding it drags it down so hard.
A quintessential hip hop album. One of my favorites of all time.
Classic and amazing
One of the first rap albums I loved.
All time classic, lyricism invented
Heard it before, issa classic
5/5 - Awesome
Man what a great album!
it's Cuban Linx. best song: all of them
One of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and the absolute pinnacle of cocaine rap. Still sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it. An almost flawless album, the one minor flaw being the amount of skits.
I wanna learn the special technique of shadowboxing
Absolutely fantastic. Love everything Wu
It’s hard not to think of this album as a Wu Tang Clan album with its cinematic interludes and mafioso centric themes. RZA’s production is phenomenal and Raekwon’s vocal performance with its dynamic flow and shifting rhythms make this album stand out and place it in the upper echelons of 90s east coast rap. I loved this album.
Thumping beats, coke slinging rap, classic soul samples, RZA creating that dark, dark mood and Ghostface and Raekwon spitting darts. This is grade A stuff. Like a movie for your ears.
I just love this type of rap
The peak of Wu-Tang shone brighter than the sun in the mid-90s. The fact that multiple albums were lost when Rza's studio flooded likely means that there were more albums of this level of quality that the world never got to hear. Can't spend your time thinking about might-have-beens, though. Built for Cuban Linx is one of those albums that I had heard about for a long time before I listened to it. On it's face it seemed like a strange thing. Raekwon didn't go on to the level of success that other member of the clan did, so it was hard to believe that one of the best solo albums came from an artist who isn't in the top 5 most highly regarded members of the original Wu-Tang clan. When you put this album on, it seems baffling that Raekwon didn't manage to break through to the main stream. So much of what made 36 Chambers great is here, the samples that only seem to work through a form of alchemy, the lyrical storytelling, tracks filled with different voices that come together in a powerful way. Cuban Linx is incredible, right from the first song. I'm not in love with the skits between the songs, but that's how things were back then, and it does work well with the cinematic approach to the lyrics. 5/5 An absolute classic
I did not listen to this album today, but since it released in 1995 I have listened to it too many times to count! Known as the "Purple Tape," this album not only is an important album for the Wu legacy but is also an important album for the whole hip-hop legacy.
It's Raekwon's name in big lettering on the front cover but this very much an introduction to the flourishing bromance between Rae and his former street rival Ghost Face Killah (former rivals to such an extent that Rae was the perpetrator that shot up Ghost's mom's apartment as mentioned at the start of this album). Both step up their game massively here, finding their voices individually, as a pair and as part of the wider Clan. As with Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) before it and Liquid Swords shortly after it, the album excels in creating its own unique world. In this case gritty neighbourhood street life is blown up into a widescreen mafioso world. The mafia trope has been revisited and mined to the point of cliché ever since by innumerous rappers, from Jay Z to Freddie Gibbs, but it was done first and done best here. The album's cinematic quality speaks to the rapid development of RZA's production skills from the grimy beats showcased in 36 Chambers which was released less than two years before. When there's conversations about the best producers in the game, it seems to get overlooked what a stupidly high level RZA was operating at in the early '90s. Not only was there constant quality, there was an absurd level of quantity. This is the second of three Wu Tang adjacent, RZA produced albums in 1995 alone and it is generally considered the best of the Clan members' solo efforts (although Liquid Swords just about edges it for me). With this album Wu Tang changed the game...AGAIN.
One of the 3 best things made by Wu Tang or a solo member imho. Love it. criminology and verbal intercourse are absolutely brilliant.
4got to mention last entry: 9/10s are now bein registered as 5s on here. 7s r 4s. 5s r 3s. etc etc its never bad but gets very repetitive. have trouble focusing on lyrics so if thats supposed to be this albums draw there aint much here for me. some of the beats are nice but most of them arent anything that impressive to me and they all kinda blend together. ice water is my fav track here and not suprisingly its also the one (sonically) least focused on being some dark gritty mafia bs. its just kind of a banger. anyway this is pretty good but drags a lil. not bad enough to be below an 8 so im giving it exactly that score. would rather be listenin to Insane Clown Posse - Riddle Box (1995) rn !!!!!!!!
Very consistent, good beat choice, amazing features 8,6/10
Not my favorite member of the Wu-tang clan, but the lyricism is undeniable. It is laced with a significant amount of homophobia and misogyny, but I accept that a bit of that came with the time. Good beats, but a little too long to maintain my interest.
Really good, slightly too long. 8
8/10. This is really good, great lyrics and production throughout. Loses points because i think trimming it down by 10-15 minutes would have made it stronger, and the conversational interludes didn't really add much.
Great rap album with good producing, lyrics, flows, everything you can expect from Raekwon. Great features over the whole album that keep it interesting. I always liked this album one of my favs in the genre 8.7/10
I can't believe I'd never heard this before. Wu Tang.
schöner klassicher 90er Rap, eindeutiger WuTang Einschlag
Legendaran album. Top 5, ako ne i top 3 najboljih Wu Tang solo albuma. Raekwon the Chef je pokido, odlični featuringi, jedino eventualno da je skratio priču doslovce, ali valjda to ide najbolje uz taj mafioso stil.
First mainstream "mafioso" album still feels as enthralling today as it did when it was thrust to the forefront of hip hop with this. It's a bit punishing as a rap album clocking in at almost 70 minutes but Raekwon's persona looming large and being engaging enough alongside Ghostface Killa makes it work. It's an important and incredibly influential album with plenty left to still engage with.
Chacho es que hay mucho menda tocho en este álbum, Nas, medio Wu Tang clan ahí metido. Vale, la movida es que es hip hop cubano... Yo poco más tengo que decir... Me la agarras con la mano si acaso. Me han molado muchas canciones del álbum, osea no es una joya, pero esta guapo y bueno al final hay que respetar los rangos, esta gente son padres de muchas cosas. Mi favorita diría que es Heaven & hell, es bastante big stoner energy y luego la peor diría que es Criminology quizás porque la base me raya demasiado. Pues yo que se peña, ganó Raek. Fuck raperos Pirris con swing. Bobby out
Surprisingly good, I'm far away from the target audience but an enjoyable if overlong album.
Pretty awesome tracks with a couple lukewarm ones. RZA really shows off his production skills entirely in this album, whereas albums like 36 Chambers or Liquid Swords are built a lot on the rapping and beats. Raekwon really imposes a lot of help from Ghost, and most of the good songs use him. The features on here are crazy too. GZA, Deck, & Nas all kill their parts. Overall a tiny big bloated but great nontheless 8/10 As of July 13th 2021 Best Tracks: Striving For Perfection, Knuckleheadz, Knowledge God, Criminology, Rainy Dayz, Guillotine (Swordz), Verbal Intercourse, Heaven & Hell
I don’t care about Scarface that much.
I usually don’t care for English rap lyrics or pay close attention to them. For this album I read along and can appreciate them on a technical level. Everything else is excellent.
A tight album. Some really great bars are on here, and I love the use of samples.
Caught between 4 and 5 for this. Love the production, love the rapping and overall vibe. But.. I didn't feel like it was one that I will return to very regularly unlike the other 5s. Sorry Chef.
An album i know very very well. I grew up with this one. Criminology, Rainy dayz, Guillotine, Verbal intercourse, Glaciers of ice, Ice cream, Heaven and Hell, are all 100% absolute classics, some of the best hip hop ever made. The rest is made up of prime Wu Tang era production, with the two best rappers from the crew. Putting this alongside Ironman, Liquid Swords and Tical, all released within the same few years, is peak Wu Tang.
A lot better than expected! Again, I do have...opinions when it comes to rap and hip-hop, but I like to think my tastes are malleable and not super stagnant. Anyway, I could not get over how much I loved the hooks and the beats. I wasn't paying that much attention to the lyrics, I'll admit that.
The big standout here is RZA, whose production maintains such a rock solid ambience for Ghostface and Raekwon to play around in. Raekwon and Ghostface are definitely delivering bars, but unfortunately something about Ghostface's vocal delivery is just not my favorite. I respect the differentiation, but it still sticks out enough to drop down a star for me.
Some of that classic grimy east coast hip hop. Raekwon floats over RZAs production and the Wu Tang features just add to the feel. So much influence from this album on late 90s/early 00s hip hop with the mafioso wave.
I love the dark, grimey sound across this record. It might not be my favorite Wu album, but it's definitely up there.
I need to listen to more Wu-tang
Really fantastic stuff here.
Four stars An all-time classic, and an album which still holds its own many years after it was released. The only grudge I have against this album is that it's too long compared to other early Wu-Tang solo outputs such as Genius/GZA's *Liquid Swords* or Method Man's *Tical*, which are straight to the point and offer a more rewarding experience on the whole. As is usually the case with those classic albums, I won't write a full-blown review here given that others have already written wonderful stuff about them and there's not much I can add that I feel could be relevant and interesting. *Only Built For Cuban Linx* is just a timeless gem for anyone who has even a remote interest in rap and hip hop. Go and listen to it a.s.a.p. Number of albums left to review or just listen to: 952 Number of albums from the list I find relevant enough to be mandatory listens: 22 (including this one) Albums from the list I *might* include in mine later on: 12 Albums from the list I will certainly *not* include in mine (many others are more important to me): 15
"I am your Ghost and your Rae, this is my Purple Tape." Pusha T's shoutout to this album, a staple of the classic Wu-Tang era. It's often called the Purple Tape because, well, it was released on a purple cassette tape. Just like Liquid Swords, this is one of the solo outings from Wu-Tang that I prefer to their group work (even though this feels like a group project at times). Ghostface is a frequent presence, and there are excellent features from the likes of Inspectah Deck, Method Man, and GZA. I think Cappa Donna's feature sounded like Phife to me, and Raekwon almost sounds like MF DOOM a few times on here. I love this vintage hip hop that feels dark and gritty, that energy ages well. I don't know what to say other than I really, really dig this and a lot of the tracks on it. Any hip hop on this list is a breath of fresh air, but this one is especially nice. Favorite tracks: Guillotine, Glaciers of Ice, Ice Cream, Knowledge God, Knuckleheadz, Spot Rusherz, Rainy Dayz. Album art: Seemingly just a picture of Raekwon and Ghostface, nothing too special. The color scheme and the matching text has given this a permanent feel, and I think it has become instantly recognizable. Still, I do think it's a pretty weak cover. Almost hot to the touch, but nothing crazy. 4.5/5
Exactly what I imagine this to sound like.
Kolejne wutangowe zaskoczenie na liscie, tym razem padlo na debiutancki material Raekwona, czyli only build 4 cuban linx niggaz z roku 95, znany takze jako purpurowa tasma, bo pan Raekwon jak przystalo na jednego z bardziej gangsterskich czlonkow skladu chcial czyms wyroznic swoj towar, wiec kasetka byla kolorowa, podobnie jak na innych materialach ekipy piecze nad produkcja sprawuje pan RZA, a wsrod ficzurow mozna znalezc wiekszosc skladu, z mocnym naciskiem na pana Ghostface, ktory jest druga gwiazda krazka pojawiajaca sie na prawie kazdym utworze, album opowiada historie gettowego zycia wsrod przestepczosci zorganizowanej i dazenia do lepszego zycia dwoch chlopow, a to wszystko opowiedziane ciezkim flow nafaszerowanym slowami zagadkami odnoszacymi sie do piecoprocentowcow, album ten mial byc punktem w ktorym do zycia wrocil mafijny rap na wschodnim wybrzezu, jak chocby debiut pana Jaya czy zycie po smierci Biggiego grubo czerpia z cubanowych linxow, a jest z czego zbierac notatki, bo plyta ma prawie 70 minut na 18 trakach lub 16 odejmujac dwa skity, jest to chyba najbardziej chambersowo brzmiacy album wsrod solowej dyskografii czlonkow grupy, beaty brzmia rownie brudno jak na pierwszych komnatach, chociaz mniej jest samplowania wschodnich filmow, to jednak calosc brzmi rownie szorstko, na plejke raczej nic nie dodaje, bo i tak juz szesc trakow mam, ale hajlajtowymi momentami jak dla mnie to ficzur inspektora decka, wiec guillotine, verbal intercourse, ktory jest jednym z niewielu utworow z kims z poza klanu, bo na beacie pojawia sie pan Nas, ciezko wybrac ostatniego, bo choc materialu jest sporo to jest on rowny i nie czuc filerow, a RZA na produkcji sie nigdy nie nudzi, bo potrafi on wyczarowac harde boom bapowe beaty, ale tez cos prawie funkowego z klawiszami, organami, ktore tworza linie basowa, a do tego wokale rodem z r&b, ktore zamykaja kompozycje, jak ma to miejsce na traku heaven and hell, ktory jest przed ostatnim lub ostatnim utworem plyty i jest dobrym zakonczeniem tego jakze filmowego winylaka, zaraz sie okaze, ze to wu tangi beda liderami w ilosci pozycji na liscie, jesli zliczyc materialy solowe grupy razem, byloby to mile zaskoczenie
Raekwon definitely goes for the throat of the entire New York scene here. Ghostface features on this and his touches are well paced and perfectly placed.
I started listening to this album thinking oh here we go again, gangsters and hos from one of the ol Wu Tang lot. But by the end I was hooked, what Raekwon did was take those dissonant and melancholy sounds married to some beats and spoke elegantly to it all. It was like a hip hopera the highs and lows. Dirty deals and need to succeed and get out. And while the lyrics were no Gill Scott Heron they were right and concise. Yes this was very good well done Raekwon from 2 decades ago.
A classic 90s rap album. Raekwon created a great solo album to show his skills outside of Wu Tang. While still heavy with Wu Tang members. This albums shows Kwons strong lyricism and good selection with beats. The album is a real street style rap that gives a look to Raekwons insight. One of the better solo albums from Wu. This is a great rap album that’s easy to listen to. 7.7/10
For the most part the production is great. The album is a bit too long for my liking, however it's pretty damn solid. I liked more songs than I disliked, so that's a win in my book. I'd give this 3.5 stars if I could, but I'll happily round up to 4.
Lot of good songs that make this 4 rather than 3.
Solid but dated.
Classic! Raekwon is one of my favorite emcees. Time for another listen.
Not my favorite solo wu album but super solid
This is a great record, arguably the best Wu Tang "spin-off". It really only has one flaw: it's too damn long. I don't know precisely what I'd chop off of this album but as enjoyable as the songs are, fatigue sets in for real. It's a great record that I will certainly continue enjoying, but I prefer to do it as a sundae rather than an entire half gallon tub. Damn album's got ice cream on my brain.
I fucking loved the Purple tape when I was 13. Loved it so much, my Dad took away my CD and told me to play something else. And it still hits hard, lyrics are dense and complex. Rae and Ghost are in their prime here, hitting every track with haymakers. Love Nas's guest appearance. This brought back a lot of memories.
Was familiar with a few tracks. Holds together well as an album and has a distinctive sound that is Wu Tang-adjacent but breaks new ground.
i wanted more from this. its solid, well produced and well performed but there isn't enough of a reason for most of the tracks, i'm not saying there needs to be a massive chorus or hookline but a lot of them just were there. maybe the purpose is in the lyrics, but i'm not really one for prioritising lyrics over the music, and besides trying to listen to hip hop intently listening to lyrics would be some serious mental exercise due to the sheer quantity of words used and unreferenced slang.
Idk kinda hit, sore throat td, nervous about apt, let’s chill
Raekwon was part of the Wu-Tang Clan, which is nothing to mess with
ever heard this album before. Great stuff. Hard to top the beats and musical production on the stuff I've heard from Wu Tang members. Definitely on the "return to" list.
Sounded good to me
Old school hiphop, rene bars, chill beats, wu-tang-vibes
Huh, julmetun kovat biitit jälleen RZA:lta. Teknisesti hyvää räbää myös, vaikka lyriikat aika lörs. Ehkä 3,5/5, mutta pyöristyköön ylös, kun tämmöiselle todella on paikkansa taustamusana. Säälihän se, että niin monessa musiikillisesti upeassa rap-klassikossa sanoja ei jaksa kuunnella.
Grimy hip hop at its best - feels like steaming city sewers and darkened alley ways populated by Shaolin and Samurai - battling leather clad spiked epauletted hoodlums for street supremacy. It gets better the longer you listen to it - and while on first listen it might feel special - it’s a hauntingly awesome album with great beats and rhymes and deep cut hooks.
Staten Island is really only good for two things - The mob, and the wu-tang. This kind of wraps up and connects all that shit into a modern gangster mobster rap 90s thing. Anyway, its a good album. 4/5
I'm a sucker for 90s Wu Tang. RZA in a creative fever pitch. To me his beats are THE quintessential hip hop sound.
I don't listen to a lot of hip hop, but when I do... I want it to be hip hop like this. Love this era. Whether it's the more socially conscious stuff like Tribe or street-wise Wu it's just too damn good. boom
pusha t, freddie gibbs, griselda, or any other mafioso rapper would probably not exist if it wasn't for this album. the beats and the lyrics work so well together and i love the gritty atmosphere of all of it. despite this being a raekwon album though, i feel that the person who really takes the show is ghostface killah as he has the best verse on nearly every song on this album. but don't get me wrong, everyone on this album does great. there are still some problems i have with the album, namely some of the outros going on for too long and a lot of the homophobia as well. but despite that, this album definitely deserves it's classic status.
Only Built 4/5 Cuban Linx
I actually enjoyed the album and thought it was great all around; definitely hear Wu Tang samples all around throughout, not to mention many collaborations with Ghostface. 8/10.
Lit and fun!
It's a Wu Tang Clan mob story, whats not to like? Tight lyrics, sparse and varied production, awesome feats. Wasn't sure whether I was in Staten Island or Stevenage waiting for the rail replacement bus today.
- Only ever heard 36 Chambers before - Really good, if a bit too long - Not quite as good as 36 Chambers, but still a really solid 90s hip hop album - Fav songs: Criminology, Ice Cream, Knuckleheadz
One of the best albums by a member of the Wu-Tang clan.