Today In Hip-Hop History:Raekwon’s Classic “The Purple Tape” Dropped 28 Years Ago

Exactly twenty-eight years ago today, one of Hip-Hop’s greatest conceptual albums in history was dropped. Raekwon The Chef birthed his debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, guest-starring his right-hand fella, Ghostface Killah aka Tony Starks.

The album was released on the Loud/RCA imprint and produced exclusively by Rule Zig-Zag Allah himself, Only Built For Cuban Linx was available on cassette, which was manufactured and distributed in a violet casing, thus, spawning its nickname.

The album’s impact was enormous on other landmark LPs of that period including Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Nas’s It Was Written, with rich ‘mafia’ references, the introduction of Cristal to the hood, and constant usage of the 5% Nation’s language of Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabets in the poetical content.

The album also introduced the other WTC members via their epithets i.e. RZA is Bobby Steele, Ghost as “Tony Starks”, Deck is “Rollie Fingers”, Meth is, of course, “Johnny Blaze”, Masta Killa as “Noodles”, the Genius as “Maximillian” the Chef as “Lou Diamonds” and altogether known as the “Wu-Gambinos”, which is the 16th track on the journey.

The four and a Half Mic Classic’s (writer Nicholas Poluhoff) storyline plays out as a movie, employing many samples of John Woo’s Killer as an interlude between several tracks.
The album comprised several classic singles that had lives of their own in other spaces. The platinum-selling album yielded legendary hit singles such as the radio/female friendly “Ice Cream”, the inspirational “Glaciers Of Ice”, the genre sparking “Criminology,” which gave birth to many “Shark N****s”, which was an ode to biters and commanding them to “be original.”

The impeccable album also features debut appearances from affiliates Cappadonna and Blue Raspberry, and an acclaimed guest appearance from Queens rap legend Nas, which marked the first collaboration with a non-affiliated artist on a Wu-Tang-related album on the joint titled ‘Verbal Intercourse’.
This product also witnessed Ghostdini throwing swipes at the late The Notorious B.I.G., accusing the slain legend of biting Nas’ pre-adolescent album cover concept. The album concludes with a positive build from the late Popa Wu aka Freedum Allah, which reminisces the life of a young, crime Raekwon who evolved into the multi-faceted individual seen today, which ironically is called “North Star  (Jewels)”.

This platinum-selling time music product is a must-have for all real Hip Hop enthusiasts, cognoscente, analysts, and chroniclers. A compliment to the whole Wu, especially Rae also known as Lou Diamonds, Tony Starks, and the RZA for this treasure. The entire Hip-Hop community will forever be in deficit to you fellas for the “Purple Tape”. Get on digital streaming platforms and enjoy.

© 2023 • Story By Edem Latsu Nukafu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *