Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
Commonly acknowledged as the most significant movement in hip-hop’s storied history, Wu-Mania was spawned with the release of “Protect Ya Neck” in late 1992. The gritty sound and imagery of the group of 8 emcees brought an energy that hip-hop audiences had never experienced, and burst with imagination and a mysticism that sent young fans into frenzies with every radio spin or video run. Each single from the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP reached new potential and almost seemed better than the last, with one member quietly leaving his imprint on each song.
Perhaps coming into stardom even faster than the group itself expected, Wu-Tang Clan continued to develop in delivery and technique, until it appeared that all the stars aligned for Raekwon the Chef’s debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… in the summer of 1995.
RZA, who had produced every Wu-Tang song at this point, crafted the brilliant score for this modern day crime saga that was brought to life with the vivid storytelling of Raekwon, who narrowly escaped being completely overshadowed by his cohost, Ghostface Killah, who creates the most memorable moments in the way that Joe Pesci steals the show from Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese films.
OB4CL includes the very first non-Wu guest spot with the epic cameo by Nas Escobar on “Verbal Intercourse,” and adds some dialog to the culture when Ghost appears to come to his defense, surprisingly throwing shade at Bad Boy on the interlude “Shark Niggas (Biters).” 22 years later I personally have not found a flaw on what I originally purchased as a purple cassette tape.
The lyrical swordsmanship of all featured clansmen elevated hip-hop overall, with RZA’s production inspiring a whole new generation. The tag-team of Rae and Ghost changed hip-hop vernacular with catchy slang and undoubtedly impacted everyday fashion.
Although, Rae had plenty of help, his patience in the kitchen ultimately paid dividends, as he served up an album as marvelous as his Wu-Brothers predicted. Compliments to the Chef!