Some things never get old. Like the sound of your platinum-selling debut. Today (August 1) marks the 16th anniversary of the release of Raekwon’s seminal debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and in an exclusive interview with BET.com, the rap great admits he still listens to the classic album to take a trip down memory lane.
“I just listened to it five months ago,” Rae confesses. “Every now and then we sit in the car and we listen to some of the stuff we did a long time ago. That’s my way of going back to the tapes and really paying attention. Automatically I’m thinking about what we were doing back then.”
What The Chef and his Wu-Tang cohorts were doing back then was making music that would define a generation of hip hop. Along with classic albums from Nas (Illmatic) and Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die), Rae kept New York street rap on common ground with the thriving West Coast sounds of Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
“We were the next cats,” Raekwon recalls. “We knew how important it was to take a stand in something so great being involved in hip hop. All of us were involved in the same thing. It was like the Olympics; you gotta come out and do your thing. It was glory times being able to see everybody doing what we doing. It was just about showing and proving. It was a good time.”
Even among his Wu brethren, Rae admits there was “friendly competition, but it was a little edgy.” Fortunately the competitiveness spurred music that now nearly 20 years later still resonates with rap fans. At any given show when Lex Diamond performs records from OB4CL “fans go crazy and start reminiscing” to classic cuts like “Ice Cream,” “Incarcerated Scarface,” “Guillotine” and Rainy Days.”
And with many of today’s rappers paying homage to stars of yesteryear on wax (see: “Tupac Back,” “Big Pun Back”), Rae doesn’t mind if some new cat comes along and wants to show appreciation for OB4CL. He just has one stipulation.
“As long it is done in a great way,” Rae declares. “I don’t care about whoever gets on their, just make it nice.”
It’s only right.
(Photo: Adrian Sidney/PictureGroup)