So, apparently...

Apparently, the long-awaited Raekwon album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx comes (well, came, since it is now almost noon as of when I type this) out today... As anyone may recall from reading in my epic "wayback" series from last month and a couple I have since applied the tag to (yes, you may access them all by clicking on that link). Knows that I was once a HUGE fan of Wu-Tang, so much to the point where I made a point of owning everything AFTER Enter The Wu-Tang..., which I copped about 2-3 months or more late, up to and including Ghostface's Supreme Clientele, which I have no qualms with divulging leaves me with some albums for which I now wish I could get my money back.
Seriously, I want you to take a minute and think back on this, and realize that I speak of Golden Arms Redemption, Tical 2000: Judgment Day, Immobilarity, and Uncontrolled Substance, thinking right off the top of my head... In non-recession dollars, new CDs usually hovered around $13-15 bucks, unless released by Loud or Sony/BMG, then they were 10 bucks, and even then only the first week. None of those were on the aforementioned labels, so I will assume a blanket $14 each for the albums, for a nice robust 52 bucks... Such a following was built by the crew, what with classic after classic, that they could REALLY float substandard and outright shitty product by their loyal Stans and just take the dough and run. I learned my lesson sometime around this point. That $52 is about a tank and a half of gas for me right now.

Anyways, I was advised earlier this morning that Raekwon's latest album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 was released today and while I knew the release was coming, I was so preoccupied with my not being fully impressed with the leak of Jay-Z's album and that I WAS (and still am) fully impressed with Slaughterhouse that I forgot to even care about Raekwon's release date. I mean this to say that being jaded by the regression of the industry and to expect less-than-great product -- especially when you've been let down by an artist twice before -- but it is another when that artist has been promising you a redux of his Magnum Opus.

This is where it gets fun...
Rumors of the album began bubbling about the time when Raekwon was sitting the bench over on Aftermath with EVERYONE on the label not named Andre Young, Marshall Mathers or Jayceon Taylor. One MIGHT tend to believe that it was Raekwon who started these rumors as an attempt to keep his name hot after Immobilarity and The Lex Diamonds Story, a pair of immensely horrible albums of which only one of I spent money on. A mixtape here, a guest shot there, continued "maybe/maybe not" conjecture that the album was coming, then more rumors, a leaked track from time to time and the normal internets buzz from Wu Stans who never quite accepted that they have not made much worth fucking listening to since 1999 kept the thoughts of the forthcoming album on peoples' minds and tongues.

Then the rumors became substantiated when Chef himself started talking about it more early last year, that all systems were apparently go, and that he was back in his zone that he was in when he made the first.
(keep in mind, I NEVER believe anyone when they say shit like that)
No longer on Aftermath (told you, only like 3 people actually see their projects released on this label), we begin to hear concrete release dates and more leaks as that date draws near and is pushed back. Keep in mind, I am full-on "believe it when I see it" mode as it relates to this, so I am not cheering this on in the least, especially with hip hop as it has been the last few years now. Needless to say, I was still not concrete on the release date on this one, especially when Raekwon and his goon squad took to the employed actions of lesser rappers -- often from the south -- when Joe Budden apparently got punched out on tape following WORDS (fucking WORDS, not fisticuffs, fucking WORDS) with Method Man over who was a better lyricist. To anyone keeping score at home, "lyricist" is a term dealing in ones' ability with words, not with having an uninvolved homeboy's weed carrier punch someone out.
Bitch move.
I won't even get into "sample clearance issues," getting the album to magically fall on the same week as a certain album that -- while not the classic that the proprietor would have you believe it is -- will be the next platinum hip hop album of 2009 (what is that, like 3 so far? this shit is sad), piggybacking if I have ever seen it. Used to see it all the time in the 90s, I own literally dozens of CDs off that shit.

Viral marketing is weird too. The label apparently won't pay for shit once you have your advance, with which you are to make the alum, get your mama's teeth fixed and drive yourself and your weed carriers to shows while you make the album. They can't be bothered to show you the money to PROMOTE the album, and damn if you have any to do it yourself, what with kids, weed carriers and THEIR kids, not to mention legal fees. You take to the internets, you leak your own tracks and pretend to be either pissed that someone is taking food out of your kids' mouths or play the role of "genuinely happy that people just want to listen to the music," each a facet of the guilt ploy to make people want to buy your albums because they either have been made guilty for stealing your shit, or because they identify with you somehow.
On the other side of this, we see rappers equipping said weed carriers with cameras and recording their every move, with hopes of coming up with something that is worth putting on the internets, getting a few hundred thousand views and maybe (but usually not) that might net them a few thousand extra sales. It happens all the time, rappers go in on one another on whatever site they're using to upload the videos to these days, fights break out and yaddayaddayadda, all in the name of record sales.

I have asked before, what happened to the days when artists really put it on the floor and records sold because they were good, instead of because of the circus surrounding the release? I would be inclined to use Slaughterhouse as an example of that if the album had actually fucking sold, and if not for the act of Raekwon having used them, Budden in particular, as his particular act in the circus. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 will sell more than Slaughterhouse did, but there again so did Ace Hood, I'm just sayin'. It will not sell NEAR what Jay-Z will, or Eminem did or even 50, whenever his album releases.

I downloaded Cuban Linx 2 last week sometime, but have not yet listened to it because I have split my time between ONLY listening to Slaughterhouse on the way to and from work and while at home, breaking only to listen to Blueprint 3 four times so far in the in-between. Trust, I am not rushing by FYE on my way home to pick this one up first day either, I have left the blind faith in album purchasing go to the past, no more. I will test drive this before I buy it, and even then only if I REALLY like it.

One may look at this as my being a "hater," as the kids call it these days, or somehow praying for someone's downfall in this, hoping for their album to flop, and that is definitely not me -- except for with Asher Roth, and I was right about that one.
What this IS, though, is my very much understandable skepticism about this whole process, where a pseudo legend takes on the tactics of those who SHOULD be (or have been) beneath him in order to regain the position that they now hold. What kind of world are we in now, honestly? Wu Tang, well a tour featuring them, has sold out the Greensboro Coliseum here in town once in my time but within the last 6 months or so they failed to PACK a club that motherfucking Gucci Mane did succeed in filling only a week later?
I am hoping for the best on this thing, I really am in that way that no one wants to see artists they love, or once loved catch (another) brick on a comeback album after a 6-year hiatus, and 10 years since their only GOOD album. It does, however, speak volumes that someone can be out of the loop of making quality product for THAT long and still have people hoping for the best from them, so there is that.

3 hours and 20 minutes left of work, a 30 minute drive home and I will make my attempts to listen to it while I cook tonight, here's me crossing my fingers!
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