“Soldiers in the front. / Let the heat pump!” - “House of Flying Daggers”
From mic to plug, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...PT. II is a masterpiece. 23 tracks. 13 producers. 4 years in the making. The wait was worth it. Lets get that part out of the way.
At 23 tracks in length, OB4CL2 is long. Yet somehow doesn’t feel that way. Its amazingly cohesive, especially considering how many different producers stopped through to drop bombs like Uncle Sam. The primarily crime tale content plays out nearly cinematically. Rae and fam all came spit game tight, vividly depicting all aspects of the drug game - the guns, the grams, the birds, the fiends, the cash, the consequences - all delivered with classic Wu-Tang aggression and vernacular.
OB4CL2 head-bangs in with J. Dilla’s marching drums and subtle sped-up soul sample on “House of Flying Daggers” as Raekwon, Ghost, Deck, and Meth toss the mic back and forth kicking scathing cypher rhymes like its 1995. The vibe turns more soulful on the Pete Rock produced, quintessential Rae crime story “Sonny’s Missing” and continues that way through the nostalgically triumphant “The New Wu.” “Pyrex Vision” finds The Chef “trying to form a rock up and double it” while “Cold Outside” delivers an early image of the dark side of that career path. “Sex, lies, murders, reps / bag the cassettes. / Vets dying on steps. / What’s really taking place in them hoods?”
The Eric Sermon produced, “Baggin Crack” through the sublime album closer “Walk Wit Me” is arguably the best track sequence on OB4CL2. Rae kicks the perfect flow over Alchemist’s gritty drums and trippy keys on “Surgical Gloves.” “Broken Safety” makes you wish Rae, Jada, and Styles would team up for a collabo album. Dilla delivers another soul moving beat on the emotional, Ol‘ Dirty Bastard tribute, “Ason Jones.” Tracks like “Have Mercy” and “Fat Lady Sings” portray the steep consequences of a life in the under world, adding a deeper, realer prospective to the crime rap content. The Dr. Dre produced, Lyfe Jennings assisted “Catalina” is both radio and club ready. Busta Rhymes‘ inspired performance on “About Me” is better than any verse he spit on his B.O.M.B.S. album. And the triumphant “Kiss The Ring” followed by the lyrically ridiculous “Walk Wit Me" wrap the album with an exclamation point.
Honestly what separates OB4CL2 from just about every other album is the extreme level of cohesive, artistic competition throughout. Every beat is doper than the previous at the same time every beat is doper than the next. Icewater and Scram Jones and Allah Justice and Necro brought just as much ruckus as Alchemist and Dilla and Rza and Dre. No one lets up. All did their duty in maintaining the vibe. The same can be said about each rhyming guest appearance’s lyrical performance. Everyone forces you to listen to them...even Cappadonna. The beats are live enough to listen to as background music. The rhymes are tight enough to compel you to run that ish back. The song transitions are near perfect - guiding the listener through a wave of sonic experiences, segued by classic Wu-Tang kung fu movie clips, of course. And most importantly, OB4CL2 improbably upholds if the not competes with the legacy of the original. Nostalgic and progressive. Simultaneously.
When so many different forces change and unite like an Obama campaign, you can’t help but want to know the story behind the creation of the opus. How did something this dope with so many different moving parts come to exist at all? What really went down during those 4 years?
I could nit-pick this album to death, searching for something wack about it. I could harp on minutia like the corny hook on “We Will Rob You” or the fact that after several discussions with my roommate, Maine, I’m still not sure of what’s going down on “Penitentiary.” Or maybe sit perched on my sometimes too high horse and slam the nearly all drug game content (which is rarely compelling these days), ignoring the ample amounts of artistic integrity and lyrical credibility included within.
But I hate to play myself. None of those things is enough to keep this album out of jPod rotation.
The unavoidable downside to OB4CL2 is that the rhymes, at times, are so coded in Wu-isms and 5 Percerter terminology that its difficult for the unfamiliar ear to decipher; to grasp what’s being said; to pick up what’s being put down.
But thats The Chef. Either you like it or your don’t. Either you ride or you walk.
The Company Man can’t fault anyone for being true to who they are. And OB4CL2 represents the best of who Raekwon is - one of the illest crime-storytellers of all time. Hip Hop’s Scorsese. So salute, and toast to the best who done it. Its murder rap shit spit for the vets who love it.”
 True Story: My boy Yahnick showed up ticketless to Rae's sold-out album release party last week, hustled his way into the show for free, slithered his way past two different bouncers at two different checkpoints, and quickly swagged his way into Rae's inner circle. By the time we accepted our denial at bouncer #2 (shouts to Raven The Blazin Eurasian at Da Listening Session. Dope underground Hip Hop radio at its finest) and sprinted outside to intersect Rae before his Maybach escape from S.O.B.s back garage, Yahnick was fresh off an invite to roll with Rae to the after hours spot and dapping him up in the middle of The-Quotable's interview. It was there that he coined the phrase "Hip Hop Scorsese." Rae loved it. Props to TRL Management. Now thats relationship building.