Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx: Deemed an instant classic upon its release in 1995, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is the debut solo effort from Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon. Also prominently featured on the album is Ghostface Killah (and by prominently, I mean on nearly every single track. I wonder what made Raekwon want to do that on the album that's meant to give himself exposure). Other than a notable guest appearance from Nas, Raekwon and Ghostface are the only ones that go in on the best cinematic production you've ever heard from RZA (who has never seen better days since this, listen to A BetterTomorrow or watch The Man With the Iron Fists if you don't believe me). The sampling on here, which serves as the foundation for the production style of the entire album, is insane and definitely the most stand out element of it. I would describe the style on here as a mix of mafioso and gangster hip-hop, and you can definitely tell how influential an album it was on future artists. If you consider yourself a hip-hop head and you haven't heard this LP yet, go do that as I silently judge you. SHAWN
Recommended Tracks: Knowledge God, Incarcerated Surfaces, and pretty much every other song on here. Not joking.
Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return to the 36 Chambers: Aight god, seeing as Shawn and I are over here trynna put Wu on the wall, Imma start with that man Russell Tyrese Jones, AKA the Ol' Dirty Bastard (LIVE AND UNCUT). Rightfully deemed so cause there ain't no father to his style namsayin. If Wu-Tang clan formed together like Voltron and GZA just so happens to be the head, then Ol' Dirty is the soul (with RZA presumably the heart). In my mind, while definitely not the mastermind of the clan, Ol' Dirty Bastard embodies everything they stand for. He's gritty, cartoonish, vulgar, and he doesn't give a fuck. These aforementioned qualities aren't just found in him, but also highlight everything that I personally think made Wu-Tang so unique. Who else came out the cuts of Staten Island rapping about ninjas, referencing anime, and sampling old martial arts flicks and still came off tough as nails. Who else can get away with lines like "rhymes come stinkin' like a girl's poo poo" or "I came out my momma pussy -- I'm on welfare."
What Ol' Dirty Bastard possibly lacked in lyricism, he more than made up for in character and style. He was unpredictable, bouncing between incoherent drawling, yelling into the mic, or half assedly singing -- if his lyricism was a martial art, he's no doubt the master of drunken boxing.
In the vast landscape that is known by anyone educated in hip-hop as The Golden Age (late 80's throughout the 90's), there is nobody else that comes to mind as unique a personality as ODB. Scratch that, nobody comes close even 20 years later. From drunken freestyles on Yo! MTV Raps to bumrushing the Grammy's stage in order to proclaim that "Wu-tang is for the children", there really ain't no father to his style. RIP. JAISON
I fuck with all of it. ALL OF IT. But my favorite tracks are Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Brooklyn Zoo, Goin' Down, and Cuttin Headz.