For whatever reason, it took me a little while to warm up to hip-hop. Maybe I was too into that guitar and percussion sound to really give hip-hop a fair chance. And I guess the whole "rap is crap" thing sort of rang a bell back then. Yeah, I fucked up. Ill admit that I never gave hip-hop a close listen until several years ago. I know, its a crime, especially since hip-hop has since become that go-to genre for me. The one genre that manages to stay fresh when three-chord punk and hardcore, ambient post-rock, and noise-ridden sludgy doom metal, just seem to go stale. So yes, I was a bit late on listening to all the Wu-Tang solo albums, and while I did thoroughly enjoy Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, I will honestly tell you that I do not know if it holds up well over time (I, unfortunately, have only been digging that album for about a year now). But judging from what Ive heard, Im more than willing to take everyones word that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is indeed, one of the strongest Wu-Tang solo releases.
With that said, I wasn't quite sure if I could properly compare Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II to its predecessor. After giving it a few spins however, I can confidently state that while it wont turn as many heads as part one, this sequel still manages to uphold that standard Wu-Tang quality. Expect more great production from RZA, a strong lyrical game from Raekwon, and some awesome guest appearances by Ghostface and the rest of the clan. I understand that some believe Raekwons lyricism hasnt quite been up to par since Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, but rest assured, he sounds fantastic spitting out his flavorful rhymes, covering topics ranging from drug usage to the mafia. As for the other rappers, they all rock the mic. Ghostface really demonstrates the meaning of consistency, by delivering yet again, more of his signature stream of consciousness rap style. GZA and Inspectah Deck make some appearances as well, and sound just as good as they did on Liquid Swords and Wu Forever, respectively. And Method Man of course, is solid.
And the production? Its dope, and yet it still manages to be coherent despite the multitude of producers. RZA, Dre, and the late J Dilla are the big contributors for this album, but Pete Rock, Necro, Icewater Productions, Alchemist, and Scram Jones also manage to have some noticeable involvement. I also commend the use of the signature Wu-Tang kung-fu movie samples. They once again act as perfect transitions between tracks.
Stand outs from the record include New Wu, Cold Outside, and House of Flying Daggers." They definitely rank up there with Raekwons strongest material to date. Other notable moments include the tribute song to ODB, "Ason Jones" and the short yet cryptic "Pyrex Vision." There have been some complaints regarding the two Dre produced tracks, and while they arent necessarily strong enough to stand on their own, they fit in nicely within the context of the album. Other than that, the chorus for We Will Rob You is a bit cheesy at times, but that doesnt change the fact that its still a pretty decent track.
So for everyone who was worried that this follow-up would fall flat like some of Raekwons other albums, push those worries aside. This is album is solid, start to finish. Strong rapping, strong production. This is by far Raekwons most focused and best effort since his debut solo album.
8.6 / 10
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