It’s been 28 years since Raekwon released his debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and it still stands as one of the most influential and critically acclaimed hip-hop albums ever. The album, which was produced by RZA, is a concept album that tells the story of a young hustler named Shaolin Raekwon as he rises through the ranks of the New York City drug trade.
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… is a masterclass in storytelling, with Raekwon’s vivid lyrics painting a picture of the drug game that is both gritty and glamorous. The album is also packed with memorable hooks, infectious beats, and guest appearances from some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and Nas.
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and it has only grown in stature in the years since. The album has been praised by critics for its innovative production, its dark and gritty atmosphere, and its lyrical realism. It has also been cited as an influence by countless hip-hop artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and J. Cole.
In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, Raekwon said that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… was “a classic album that will stand the test of time.” And he was right. The album is still as relevant and enjoyable today as it was when it was first released.
If you’re a hip-hop fan, then you owe it to yourself to listen to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… It’s an essential album that helped shape hip-hop’s sound in the 1990s and beyond.