Posted by: vincentlopez | December 8, 2008

Raekwon’s “Only Built for Cuban Linx…” ~ Only 4.5 mics???

source-september-1995-72 rae 

Dr. DreThe Chronic – (4.5 mics)

Wu-Tang Clan Enter the 36 Chambers – (4.5 mics)

The Notorious B.I.G.Ready to Die – (4.5 mics)

Mobb DeepThe Infamous… – (4.5 mics)

RaekwonOnly Built for Cuban Linx… – (4.5 mics)???


Unfortunately, this is where The Source and I finally differed on this 4.5 mic rating thing.  Those previous four albums above are still considered to be 4.5 mic albums to me.  But Only Built for Cuban Linx… is a 5 mic classic in my opinion.  I probably have hundreds of reasons in my head, too, but one stands out for me at this very second.  This album is the one and only album where the two losers in the group (U-God and Masta Killa) didn’t sound as awful as they usually did.  Don’t get me wrong now.  I still think they are absolutely unnecessary in the group but the fact that they didn’t goof too much on this album is enough for me.  Secondly, the Rza’s production on this album peaked and was/is incredible.  It’s his best full out effort on an entire album.  And this was the year of the Wu so to speak with their four solo albums released within 12 months.  It was as if Rza purposefully crafted and hid those specific tracks from everyone else and saved them just for Rae and Ghost.  And oh yeah, if I recall correctly, they went to Barbados to write the ‘darts’ for this album, too.  Lastly, this album has been the summer album of choice for me since ’95.  Something about it makes me think and feel the summer weather.  The music is sinister, aggressive, and has that sort of soundtrack album feel a la Mobb Deep’s Hell on Earth By the way, Gza’s Liquid Swords is the perfect November fall weather album to me.  Thinking back, I remember asking a friend of mine everyday in the summer of ’95 when the album would be released.  And I pretty much stole his ‘Glaciers of Ice’ cassette single when he let me borrow it.  Those were the days when you actually cherished hip-hop music because you had to search for it and it wasn’t easily downloadable from the net and buried on a hard drive.  Needless to say, when I bought that CD, I locked myself in my hot a** bedroom, read every word printed on the little booklet and listened to it alone for a few days before letting my friends tape it.  When was the last time music that good made you act that way?  Also, do you consider this album to be a 5 mic classic?  And is it Wu-Tang’s best overall album?


Some other highlights from this issue:


Mumia Abu-Jamal is set to be executed

– Timberland is charged with racism

– Hip-hop culture invades Japan

Pete Rock & CL Smooth break up

Nas with the hip-hop quotable for “Verbal Intercourse”

– Microphone Check with Twinz, The Luniz, 5th Ward Juvenilez, and Smooth

– Steve McNair is drafted by the Houston Oilers


Record Report:


RaekwonOnly Built for Cuban Linx (4.5 mics)

TwinzConversation (4 mics)

Ray LuvDefinition of a Hustler (3.5 mics)

GuruJazzmatazz II (3.5 mics)

Bone Thugs-N-HarmonyE. 1999 Eternal (3.5 mics)

VA – The Show (3.5 mics)

SmoothSmooth (3.5 mics)

Level 6Level 6 (3 mics)

Poppa LQYour Entertainment, My Reality (3 mics)

Brotha Lynch HungSeason of Da Sickness (2.5 mics)

Source September 1995 issue



September 1995 fat tape







  1. The thing that got me was the write-up. I remember dude saying something like “Best album ever” with that .5 still missing.

    But I read somewhere how they were talkin’ to this editor that used to be there and they had a strict “No 5 Mic” rule and they felt conflicted after seeing the Chronic’s reaction when they played it for people out in the city. So they were kinda lacking on the foresight to be able to predict an album’s long-term value and for that reason, that’s why those other 4.5 Mic albums got changed to 5. Impact. Ground-breaking.

    And that Bone Thugs rating is some bullsh*t too. 4.5 easy.

  2. Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Baacck!! Great Source Drop! I would have to say Only Built For a Cuban Linx deserves a 5 mic. Then again, I am the same cat who would give 5 mic to following albums:
    Enter The 36 Chambers
    Ready to Die
    The Chronic
    The Infamous
    Midnight Marauders (they really “F”ed this up)
    Liquid Swords (4 MICS ARE YOU SERIOUS, GIVE PLAUSIBLE REASONS FOR THIS. *Source tries to respond* TIME’s UP (Plays O.C.’s Track of same name instrumental), HOW DID THIS NOT GET ANYTHING LESS THAN 4.5??!!!)

    Interesting read on Iron Mic. Reading these issues is like a nostalgia most people have to the better days of yesteryears.

    Thanks for the drop

    So, peace to the nation, the people that represent, and those
    cats that never bug out to the extreme

    Yo, If word is bond
    then Q Moves On

    (Hope you stop by Lyrics2Go sometime. A lot may have changed since you visited (or still be the same), so tune in to find out which will it be (is it me….))

  3. Much thanks. Very real talk about how Hip Hop music doesn’t affect people the same way it did back in the day. It’s a damn shame.

  4. I was saying the other day that I listen to Cuban Linx in the winter almost exclusively. It’s funny how the same jams can have such different effects on people. The last album I remember really going bonkers over was ‘Street Level’ by The Beatnuts. I mean…lots of other records came out that I loved, but that one really made me feel good. To this day I totally focus on the music when that record is on. I can’t listen to it with other people because I either stop paying attention to what they’re talking about or I just start going on about the record. Lyrics, production, etc. or both.
    for the record….Cuban Linx is 5 mics and is probably the best Wu album. Liquid Swords is close but I tend to get bored with it after a couple of listens. I’d like to mention though, that it has my favorite RZA verse on it on ‘Duel Of The Iron Mic’. That song is flawless.

  5. To me, “Cuban Linx” is the best Wu album. “Liquid Swords” is the most chilling/vivid/cinematic and economic. “Ironman” gets the most listens.

    Cuban Linx is a 5 mic album mainly because not only is it incredible on its own, it inspired everything after it.

  6. This LP to me was the sign of the times. This was the 1st CD i ever got along with the D&D Project LP.
    When i 1st heard this album i was just blown away, then i realized that i did not skip any tracks! Even the skits were tight! I used to sit and listen to this album at least every day during my 8th grade year. I remember recording that Ice Cream video like 10x, that was the jam that summer. RZA was in a zone when he did this album, i wish he was still in that zone.
    Raekwon & Ghost was in a ill zone as well when they did this album, the content they was talkin about was definetly on point. It was just mindblowin. Check the Criminolgy video, Ghostface did the video dressed in a robe???!!! How many ni**as u know do that? ODB did the Shimmy Shimmy Ya video in his draws!!!! How many ni**as would do that!!
    This LP to me is beyond a 5 mic classic, this is a historic album, it should be a monument made for this cause its that important. I cant put it in words. Even Biggie was ridin around bangin this album, so what that tell u!
    The last time music made me act this way was in the 90’s. 90’s hip-hop gave me my whole swag and style, it will never be duplicated.
    And yes this is Wu-tang best overall album, right behind this is Wu-Tang’s 1st LP and so forth.
    Raekwon put himself in a tuff spot trying to come out with a pt.2 to this album, i cant see comin nowhere near to this LP. feel sorry for him cause he set the bar high and might be able to reach it.

  7. only built 4 cuban linx is a classic, but saying that its the best wu album kinda feels like an insult. can’t nobody forget about gza’s liquid swords, in which in my opinion, sonically, is the quintessential wu album.

  8. This is my second favorite album of all time (Illmatic being #1). This is another album that’s been part of my collection since its August 1, 1995 release, and I still play it often like I did back then. I first heard this album through my friend Andre, and from there I copped the purple tape first, and then in 1996, that’s when I got the CD. I had that CD til 2003 when I bought a new one, and that one I bought in 2003 is still in top notch condition today. Man, this album epitomizes not only the Wu-Tang sound @ that time, but also why East Coast hip hop was SO outstanding in the 90s. In regards to this album, EVERYTHING across the board on this album is FLAWLESS, the lyrics, the guest appearances, the production, the concepts, you name it. NO filler whatsoever. Nas (Wayne’s favorite artist, do you forget it, lol) delivers one of the greatest verses of all time (and w/o a doubt one of my top 5 favorite verses from him) on the classic “Verbal Intercourse”. As far as picking favorite songs, like Illmatic, every song on this album is a favorite of mine, which should tell you how much I cherish this album. Overall, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is not only 1995’s best album, but like I said before, one of the greatest albums of all time. This is one of the main reasons why I cherish ALL of my throwback albums and why the 1990s is untouchable in terms of the quality of hip hop music. I’m still anticipating Cuban Linx II, but even Rae has to know that there is NO touching the original Cuban Linx album. Hip hop will never be this good again, and w/ the exception of Nas’ album that came out this year, there’s NO album that has come out this year that can compete w/ Cuban Linx.


  9. Yeah, this should’ve been a 5 star record, but “The Chronic” and “Doggystyle” should have been too. And that Bone record only got 3.5 stars due to the infamous “East Coast Bias” that The Source and most other rap mags subscribe to.

    The bottom line is, that Hip-Hop from that era was so competitive that even stuff thats considered classic today was seen as just par for the course back then.

    I mean, just imagine if Nas put out “It Was Written” today? It’d be called better than “Illmatic” just because it’d be compared to Lil’ Wayne and Young Jeezy today.

  10. How could you say U god is not needed I thing his verse on Triumph was a classic And “Da mistery of chessboxing” would have been weak without “Raw Ima Give it to ya wit no trivia we’re like cocaine straight from Bolivia” WOW! those are pretty Harsh words!

    • @Dana – U-God will forever suck, in my opinion. Every crew has a weak link and he’s it in the Wu.

  11. O.B.F.C.L. Does bring back Mad memories though. Its like a nostalgic high to listen to it from first to last track. “Ice cream” was the hot Instrumntal everybody was freestylin to. You remember specific stuff about every track that coincides with youre life at the time.

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