1995 was a good year for commercial rap. Tupac Shakur dropped his most sincere - and arguably his greatest - album, Me Against the World, while behind bars. Mobb Deep redefined street rhymes with "Shook One Pt II," and Premier released his most slept-on album via Group Home's Livin Proof. 1995 was also the year that Staten Island's Wu-Tang Clan, fresh off the landmark success of Enter the Wu-Tang, released a slew of solo albums by individual Wu members: the Genius, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Raekwon.

Although the Genius had tighter microphone skills and Ol' Dirty Bastard had the outrageousness, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was clearly the album of the year. With blistering tracks like "Ice Water," "Verbal Intercourse," and "Glaciers of Ice," Raekwon and his partner in rhyme, Ghostface, unleashed an uncut Scarface remix whose influence still endures. Raekwon's debut featured project classics like "Incarcerated Scarfaces," "Can It Be All So Simple," and "Heaven and Hell," as well as the unforgettable "Ice Cream."

with C-Rayz Walz, Ice Water, Inc.
Saturday, October 18
603 Red River, Austin
Throughout the LP, the Wu was re-introduced as the "Wu-Gambinos," a pre-Sopranos crime syndicate where new aliases abounded; Raekwon became Lex Diamonds, and Ghostface epitomized Tony Starks. A year later, Jay-Z would run with the formula, Cash Money would follow, and today "bling-bling" is officially in the Oxford Dictionary.

None of the followers, however, possessed the liquid swords (i.e. tongues) featured on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.

Since his debut, Raekwon has appeared on every Wu-Tang Clan release and also dropped a second solo LP on Loud Records. On Saturday, October 18, Rae and his Ice Water crew will bless the stage at Emo's in Austin. Also on the bill is Def Jux's C-Rayz Walz, who should not disappoint. It's been some time since the Wu's last Texas sojourn, so Rae fans are advised to buy tickets early. •


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