After writing the last post, I burned a copy of Only Built for Cuban Linx II and started listening to it in the car. After a few days it's starting to grow on me the way the first one did. When Cuban Linx came out, it was my least favorite of the first string of Wu solos. I don't know what I was thinking. After a short time it became my favorite. By senior year of high school I knew the lyrics to every song on the album. With that in mind I felt I owed Cuban Linx II more of a chance.
What makes this Cuban Linx II and not The Lex Diamond Story II or The Vatican Mixtape Vol. 3 is that it shares a similar conceptual vision with the first Cuban Linx. The first album had minimalist beats with Raekwon's legendary crime stories, specific as a newspaper. Raekwon's later releases strayed from the original formula and were pretty forgettable because of it.
The main difference between the sequel and the original is that this time the production is handled by an assortment of producers, rather than by just RZA. That's what made me initially reluctant to like it. There are some heavyweight producers on here - J Dilla, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, Eric Sermon, Alchemist, holy shit Marley Marl. That sounds like a dream I had in high school. But I still like RZA better, especially on a Wu CD. Oh well. I've settled for the heavyweights. Seems like the public demand for Cuban Linx II got Raekwon a fat advance to spend on grimy beats. The song "Have Mercy" that I previously wrote about is outstanding. Beanie Siegel's verse is the best verse on the album. It's always a shame when a guest steals the show. The track "Broken Safety" is awesome, too. It features the always dependable Jadakiss and Styles P....
Rakewon's flow has deteriorated since his machine gun rap for everybody in the back. He still works the crime stories nicely but he doesn't sound like he used to.
P.S. The two Dr. Dre beats on the album sound ghost produced by somebody else.