Concert Review

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt II Tour feat. Raekwon the Chef

During a year in which hip-hop seems to be coming back into the hands of actual emcees and leaving the hands of industry-supported artists, an album was dropped on September 8, 2009. An album that many, after 14 years, thought would never see the light of day. That album was the highly anticipated sequel to Raekwon the Chef’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, the album said to introduce the mafioso aspect to hip-hop back in 1995. Definitely being one of the hip-hop albums released this year, and in a very long time, it was only fitting that the Chef go on tour to promote his album. After a month or so in Europe, he finally hit the States and landed in the middle of North Carolina on December 6, 2009 at Carrboro’s Cat’s Cradle, when Raekwon, with the help of two special guests, put on a show just as equally dope as the album.

Of course, before getting to the main show, it must be brought to the attention that not all things started off with a bang at Cat’s Cradle. One of the opening acts, recently signed by Raekwon’s Ice H2O Records, came on stage for their performance. Having been to quite a few shows at Cat’s Cradle now, this was by far the worst performance I had ever seen. The name of this group is easily forgotten, as was their performance. Five guys bouncing on stage, bringing rhymes that you would hear from Gucci Man or Lil Wayne – and they were straight from North Carolina. Definitely not a great way to start the night. But thankfully, Raekwon’s arrival on stage pushed away all the horrible memories of that performance.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the God MC on stage, kicking a hole in the speaker, pullin’ the plug and then jetting. And I thought that was the greatest show I had been to. And while Rakim will always be the greatest rapper in my opinion, Raekwon destroyed the live show. The hunger was there – the drive, the passion. It was like watching a ghost from the past. And it reminded you why the members of the Wu-Tang clan still have the one of the biggest followings of any rap group in the world.

Without even saying a word,  the presence of Raekwon on stage was enough to send the crowd in a frenzy. The Chef had arrived and the symbol of the Wu-Tang Clan had immediately gone up, with choruses of “Wu-Tang!” echoing through the venue. And then the saga continued. From the legendary joint, “C.R.E.A.M.” to “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’”, Rae kicked it off properly with joints from the classic Wu debut, 36 Chambers. And then, getting the crowd pumped up and talking about bringing real hip-hop back to the scene, Rae went straight into Cuban Linx I, grooving on stage to the song sampled in “Ice Cream” before launching into the actual song, accurately taking on verses by both himself & Wu-Tang brother, Ghostface Killah. Then it was on to the next one, ripping apart the song, “Criminology” and takin’ us back to “the good ol’ days”. But the Chef, already down with a cold and slowly losing his voice, decided to take a brief intermission and introduced to special, special guests on to the stage…

CNN. Capone-N-Noreaga. Bringing us a special “War Report”, and serving us up with classic tracks, including the amazingly dope cut, produced by DJ Premier, “Invincible.” For about 10 to 20 minutes,  CNN tore up the stage, leaving none in their path. And you could tell they were going hard. Capone came back on stage for a brief minute to talk about iPhone apps, of all things, and could barely speak above a whisper because he lost his voice from the performance. And for all of you looking for the next CNN album, keep on the lookout for The War Report 2, due out on Ice H2O records sometime in early 2010.

Of course, after the brief intermission, the Chef came back up to the front and got right back in the swing of things, giving praise, respect and love to his brother, Ason Jones, also known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard and then destroying track after track after that was on the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, from “House of Flying Daggers” to “10 Bricks” and “Black Mozart”, Chef ended the saga with a bang, effectively closing up the sequel and conclusion to the original Cuban Linx album.

by DJ Wise