You’d be forgiven for not looking back fondly on your middle school years. Gawkish growth spurts, acne, and cruel jokes are better left in the past, you might say. But these years can be extremely formative too. You can start figuring out who you are, what you want to do, or in the case of a lucky few – or maybe just lucky two – meet a legendary rap collaborator.
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah met in middle school on Staten Island. Two all-time great rappers at the same school? That convergence of talent is almost unbelievable but New York’s rap scene was chock full of young talent. Over the course of his high school career, Raekwon would also connect with Method Man, Remedy and Inspectah Deck – all would eventually join forces as part of the Wu-Tang Clan in 1992 when RZA formed the group along with GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, U-God and Masta Killa.
Tracks like “Protect Ya Neck,” “Can It Be All So Simple” and “C.R.E.A.M.” helped propel Wu Tang’s first album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), into becoming a country-wide phenomenon. Not only did that early success cement the group’s legacy and redefine East Coast rap as a whole, but it also provided a launching pad for solo superstardom for each Wu-Tang member.
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, released in August 1995 by Raekwon the Chef and commonly referred to as The Purple Tape, is one of the most renowned hip hop albums in history. Working alongside Raekwon the Chef on this release are original members of the Wu-Tang Clan including Ghostface Killah who raps on many tracks and RZA who produced it.
Some of Raekwon’s best work including “Ice Cream,” “Heaven & Hell,” “Criminology” and “Rainy Dayz” can be found on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Besides the songs, critics and music enthusiasts alike enjoy the themes rapped about in the album including the American mafia & organized crime. In fact, the record is seen as the forefather of the mafioso rap subgenre.
Since the tracks on the famous Raekwon album feature Ghostface Killah so heavily, you can expect to hear all of your favorites from that record when they rap in concert along with other classics from their solo libraries and their time in the Wu-Tang Clan.
Over the course of a relationship as long as Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah’s there are sure to be trials and tribulations. The pair supported one another through their respective beefs with RZA over legal and artistic issues, but the internal strife between members of the Wu-Tang Clan ultimately caused the relationship between Ghostface Killah and Raekwon the Chef to be strained.
However, the two were able to reunite on the popular Verzuz series on March 20, 2021. This was the impetus for the duo to go on tour together once again to perform their rap classics and some new rhymes as well.
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