- Personnel includes: Raekwon, 62nd Assassin Of Sunz Of Man, Lucky Hands a/k/a Golden Arms, Cappachino, Noodles a/k/a Master Killa (rap vocals); Blue Raspberry (vocals).
- The Wu-Tang saga continues. Raekwon "The Chef" is already an irreplacable part of rap music's largest breed, the Wu-Tang Clan, but his debut proves him also capable of standing on his own two feet. On ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX..., Raekwon's street-tough lyrics spotlight the roughness of his everyday life and, combined with short story interludes, shape the plot for this gangster movie of an album.
- The topics on CUBAN LINX are all Chef-centered braggadocio, and the beats constantly reflect the hip-hop underground. Raekwon defines the politics of the rap game on "Incarcerated Scarfaces," and invites any non-believers to test his skills. Joining Raekwon on just about every cut, fellow Clan-man Ghost Face Killer gives a great solo effort on "Wisdom Body."
- In fact, CUBAN LINX bares closer resemblance to an actual Wu-Tang Clan album than any solo record by a Wu-Tang member. The backing track for "Guillotine (Swordz)" was previously introduced on Method Man's solo album TICAL, and Raekwon and his crew expand on it for a quick flashback. "Can It Be All So Simple" also returns--this time in a remixed form. These two songs, along with "Ice Cream" and "Wu-Gambinos" (both of which feature Method Man), should feed the habits of hungry Wu-fiends. Raekwon's chamber briefly escapes the Clan's musical borders on "Verbal Intercourse," and though the track evokes other Wu-Tang material, Nas' lyrical presence adds a different dimension to the album's haunting reality.
- As usual, The RZA dominates the production on each razor-sharp cut, and with appearences from just about every Clan MC, ONLY BUILT 4 CUBAN LINX... could easily be a Raekwon-sponsored Wu-Tang reunion.
Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.74) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Spin (9/99, p.162) - Ranked #83 in Spin Magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s."
Spin (12/95, p.63) - Ranked #14 on Spin's list of the `20 Best Albums Of '95.'
Spin (11/95, p.125) - 8 - Very Good - "...the sonic equivalent of a John Woo movie; tales filled with gunshots...assassins with their own special codes of morals...and a beautiful woman mourning the loss of a lover caught up in the drama....Raekwon paints pictures so vivid you smell the gunpowder and wipe the blood on your shirt-tails..."
Entertainment Weekly (8/18/95, p.57) - "...rapper Raekwon at his lightning-quickest and producer RZA at his razor sharpest....Underneath the meaty rhymes are RZA's spooky, discordant keyboards and wailing female vocal samples..." - Rating: A-
Q (8/00, p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Thrillingly malevolent...and surprisingly melancholy...with RZA's dense sample collages as labyrinthine as the lyrics....[It] remains one of the milestones of '90s hip hop."
The Wire (10/01, p.46) - "...Irreducibly New York, smeared and self-referential, like a neighborhood that feels familiar but isn't....An album of sense and sensibility..."
Vibe (9/95, p.180) - "...Raekwon rips through rhymes like no other lyricist exists--he looks at every other MC like dinner. Not quite a solo debut, Rae puts his man Ghost...down on practically every cut....since practically every MC who knows...something was itching to get...on this album, those who made the cut...are cream..."
The Source (9/95, p.97) - 4.5 Mics - Superior - "...Raekwon...sprays out lyrics like gunfire....On CUBAN LINX, a barrage of sound effects, screams, samples and dialogue conjure up images of a gangsta movie....another success for Shaolin's finest..."
Melody Maker (8/26/95, p.37) - Recommended - "...frequently excellent....the offshoots [of the Wu-Tang Clan] have been phenomenal....If ONLY didn't outstay its welcome by about 10 minutes, it'd be sharing a pedestal with [Method Man's] TICAL..."
Rap Pages (10/95, p.31) - 9 (out of 10) - "...Much like the main character of Cain in MENACE II SOCIETY and Biggie in his READY TO DIE odyssey, Rae is threatening, funny, calculated, arrogant, charismatic, talented, so on and so on..."
Village Voice (2/20/96) - Ranked #15 in Village Voice's 1995 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.
New York Times (Publisher) (1/6/96, p.C16) - Included on Neil Strauss' list of the Top 10 Albums of `95 - "...an intricately worded, copiously produced disk that unravels with the delirium of an action film..."
NME (Magazine) (12/23-30/95, pp.22-23) - Ranked #29 in NME's `Top 50 Albums Of The Year' for 1995.
NME (Magazine) (8/19/95, p.51) - 8 (out of 10) - "...a serious depth charge of an LP....When you hear the rough street-edged voices, spouting gritty rhymes over heavy beats, you hear the word from the `ghetto' as if handed down from the mount..."
Pitchfork (Website) - "The loop on 'Ice Water' is already perfectly proportioned and RZA still can't help but to drop scratches, switch up the rhythm of the vocal sample, and play with a half-dozen other ideas, granting the listener the simultaneous pleasures of minimalism and maximalism..."