|1. I Keep Asking You Questions|
|2. The Way We Were|
|3. If You Think It (You May As Well Do It)|
|4. Could I Be Falling In Love|
|5. "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby"|
|6. Striving For Perfection|
|8. Knowledge God|
|10. Incarcerated Scarfaces|
|11. Rainy Dayz|
|12. Guillotine (Swordz)|
|13. Can It Be All So Simple (Remix)|
|14. Shark Niggas (Biters)|
|15. Ice Water|
|16. Glaciers Of Ice|
|17. Verbal Intercourse|
|18. Wisdom Body|
|19. Spot Rusherz|
|20. Ice Cream|
See all 23 tracks on this disc
Every track is great, there is not a single bad track on the whole album! The best tracks are 'ice cream' and 'verbal intercourse'. This is a must have for any hip hop fan, and certainly for any wu fan. Although this is Raekwons lp he certainly could not have done it without the help of ghostface, who is featured in most of the tracks, and of course the RZA. In my opinion RZA is the greatest producer of all time and this album is proof of that. Appearances not only include ghostface but most of the wu tang clan, and nas.
If you like hip hop take my advice and buy this CD now, on first class delivery so you get this as soon as possible!
'... Cuban Links' wasn't particularly sought after upon release. Compared to Ghostface's staccato, Method Man's stoned bassy voice and ODB's crazy shouting, Raekwon seemed to get a little lost in the mix during '... 36 Chambers'. He's certainly the Wu member who performs the least guest spots. A combination of this led to this LP receiving a slightly muted reception when it was initially released. It didn't take long for the hip hop community to realise what a classic LP this is.
With their first solo releases, each of the Wu members adopted different personas, which was part of their appeal. While Gza's gimmick was the interspersed 'Shogun Assassin' samples, ODB's behaved and sounded like he had just escaped the lunatic asylum and Ghostface's inimitable staccato made him sound totally original, Raekwon's persona is that of the urban gangster.
The gangster rap / Mafioso imagery was nothing new in 1995, Kool G Rap (amongst others) had popularised the idea a few years earlier, but it had not reached the saturation point that it currently has. However, there had not been an LP that had so successfully blended such imagery with the music. It is the track 'Criminology' that gives us the first taster. It begins with a sample from the Al Pacino movie 'Scarface' and is a typically brash expose of Raekwon and Ghostface Killah's (who features heavily on many of the tracks) gangster credentials, "Call me dough snatcher / just the brother for the rapture / I hang glide, holding on strong / hard to capture" Raekwon spits. Elsewhere, the Wu anthem, 'Wu Gambinos' has each Wu member (and guest rapper Nas) adopt a 'gambino' persona as a (perhaps typical) story of crime is told. It's one of the most successful posse tracks to find its way onto a solo Wu release. Method Man's opening statement sums the sentiment up perfectly, "Wu come to get you / now they've got guns / I be the first to set off s**t, last to run / Wu roll together as one / I call my brothers Sun cos they shine like one."
Rza's production is typically (for the time) innovative. On 'Ice Water' an odd chant is coupled with some slow scratching to great effect. Meanwhile, the Gladys Knight and The Pips sampling 'Can It All Be So Simple' glistens with emotion and 'North Star' takes Barry White's soul classic 'Can't Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby' and turns it into something altogether darker.
It paints a pretty grim picture, and the one thing that prevents this being a five star classic in this writer's opinion is that it's a bit too turgid to sit through in one listen. In comparison to Ghostface or Gza's first major releases, it just doesn't have enough lively tracks. I realise that Raekwon wasn't aiming to make a party album, but at seventy-three minutes long, it can be a drag to sit through in one go. I wish Amazon would allow half marks, because giving 4 seems harsh, but I can't give it five with a clear conscience.
This album is most definitely worthy of a purchase. Today every new Wu LP is heavily anticipated, but for the wrong reasons - old fans tune in to hear if the group have come anywhere near to close to their old quality. Back in 1995, it seemed like the cycle of quality could never end. '... Cuban Linx' is one of the best cuts the Wu will ever produce, and if 'Immobilarity' is anything to go by, it seems certain to be the best LP carrying the Raekwon name for a long, long time.
Basically you've got Raekwon and Ghostface Killah at the top of their game with some fantastic MCing. Then there's the guest spots- check out Inspectah Deck's verse in Guillotine (Swordz) or Nas in Verbal Intercourse; even Cappadonna is brilliant on Ice Cream. Masterminding the whole package is the RZA: the production is his finest work, in particular the beats and clever samples.
What else to say? If you haven't heard of this before other Wu-Tang works (like I hadn't) and wouldn't normally get something you hadn't tried first, make an exception. One of my favourite rap albums, no question.
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