DAR Roundtable: Mobb Deep's The Infamous vs Raekwon's Only Built For Cuban Linx

The Infamous

1. The Start Of Your Ending(41st Side)
2. The Infamous Prelude
3. Survival Of The Fittest
4. Eye For An Eye(Your Beef Is Mine)
5. (Just Step Prelude)
6. Give Up The Goods(Just Step)
7. Temperature's Rising
8. Up North Trip
9. Trife Life
10. Q.U.- Hectic
11. Right Back At You
12. The Grave Prelude
13. Cradle To The Grave
14. Drink Away The Pain(Situations)
15. Shook Ones Part II
16. Party Over


Only Built For Cuban Linx

1. Striving For Perfection
2. Knuckleheadz
3. Knowledge God
4. Criminology
5. Incarcerated Scarfaces
6. Rainy Days
7. Guillotine (Swordz)
8. Can It Be All So Simple Remix
9. Shark Niggas(Biters)
10. Ice Water
11. Glaciers of Ice
12. Verbal Intercourse
13. Wisdom Body
14. Spot Rusherz
15. Ice Cream
16. Wu-Gambinos
17. Heaven & Hell
18. North Star(Jewels)

This is a little bit different than our usual roundtable. Usually, we compare albums in a legend's catalog, but today, we are comparing two of the most influential hip hop albums from the 90s, Mobb Deep's The Infamous and Raekwon's Only Built For Cuban Linx. Without further adieu, let's jump right into the discussion.

Raekwon is on my top 5 MC's of all time list and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is on my Top 3 best hip-hop albums of all time, so this one was a no brainer for me. The Infamous album didn't stand a chance. As Rae's solo debut album and a result of RZA's production, this album delivered in every way that a classic hiphop album should. The track list on OB4CL is close to perfect, the lyrics are brilliant, the Wu members being featured on various songs provides style variation and the snippets of "the killer" and "scarface" are brilliantly integrated. I would say the success of this album not only comes from Raekwon being a great artist, but also because 1994-1996 was when the Wu members were releasing solo albums and dominating hip-hop. This is one of those albums that never requires skipping tracks. OB4CL gave us "Wu-Gambinos" "Criminology" "Verbal Intercourse" "Can It Be All So Simple" "Rainy Days" "Ice Cream" (I can go on...) vs. "Shook Ones Part 2" and "Cradle to the Grave" on The Infamous album. The genius work of the RZA coupled with the lyricism and capabilities of Raekwon make Only Built 4 Cuban Linx a masterpiece. Hands down!!

The Infamous for me. If you've ever decided to spit bars, you have a freestyle to the Shook Ones beat. This is undisputedly a classic. Havoc's beats are so icy and Prodigy bars just feel dirty coming in your ears. The features on this album are just the icing on this cake. Thematically, Mobb Deep doesn't do anything new here, but lyrically Mobb Deep takes east coast rap to another level with this one. You feel like you're watching and breaking every scene as you go along. Their flow isn't all that grand but it gets the point across. Sonically, the production is simple but moving. Some bars are just bone chilling to listen to Prodigy rapping. This has to be the epitome of gritty hardcore rap no doubt.

Only Built for Cuban Linx is over the top with soulful samples. Definitely one of the finer moments of the WU's solo collection. Songs like Incarcerated Scarfaces are so visually dense, your heartbeat picks up listening to it. Lyrically it is great and sonically it works great for a bit of a longer album and keeps your attention throughout it. Another classic undisputedly. When push comes to shove, The Infamous just barely holds the bar to a higher standard.

Mobb Deep's "The Infamous" and Raekwon "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" are two albums I've probably listened to hundreds of times. Comparing the Mobb's darker sound to Rae and Ghost on the purple tape is almost impossible to me. I'd probably choose either or depending on my mood. From a critical perspective, I would say OB4CL is the better overall album, so I'll choose it by the slightest of margins.
I was almost going to say The Infamous, with Shook Ones Pt. 2 and Eye For An Eye playing in my head, but I honestly would play OB4CL all the way through with no skips before I did the same for The Infamous(this might be a different story if we were comparing it to Hell on Earth, which is Mobb Deep's best album IMO), but OB4CL is too good. Criminology was always one of my favorite joints, and Nas' verse on Verbal Intercourse is enough to make my decision a little easier. Ice Cream is one of Wu's best singles as well(I love that hook). With respect to Prodigy and Havoc introducing that eerie sound that got mimicked heavily in one of the most influential hip hop albums NY ever produced, I think that Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is the better overall project.

Both are in my top 10 favorite hip hop albums. Both are two of the best hip hop albums of all time. Both opened my eyes to hip hop. I'll have to give the nod to Cuban Linx just off of the strength of how dominant The Wu was then. I remember buying it in Manhattan many years ago and bumping it on the way back to Baltimore. I never forgot how the album felt back then. Spot Rusherz is classic storyteller Chef along with Incarcerated Scarfaces. Knowledge God is beautiful. Every song is classic. Rza killed it with the grimey soul production.

I love The Infamous just as much. Temperature's Rising is an all time classic. Give Up The Goods and 41st side give me chills always. Eye For An Eye(spoiler alert) is one of my all time favorite posse tracks. Havoc and Prodigy hit their stride with this all time gem.

The Purple Tape is a classic. No doubt about it. Personally? I don't LOVE the album as much as everybody else. I'm a fan of Raekwon, but not that much. I honestly liked the sequel to the Purple Tape better. Anyways, obviously my pick would be The Infamous. Don't get me wrong, I definitely respect the Mafioso rap style of The Purple Tape, but I'll always gravitate towards the hardcore rap style in Hip-Hop.

Yes, Purple Tape is better lyrically and definitely better production wise, but for some reason I can't listen to it as often as I do The Infamous. The gritty storytelling, the raw, dark, and sometimes intense production, and some very memorable tracks really made me love the album. The Infamous is my choice.

This is a very tough decision for me. I love both albums and depending on the day, I could choose either one. The Infamous is such a classic, but if I have to choose, I will say OB4CL, only by a small margin. The soulfulness of the beats, some of the classics, and lyrically, it is just a tad stronger than The Infamous. I will say however, songs like Eye For An Eye and Temperature's Rising made this decision even tougher. But, I have to go with OB4CL just barely. Both classic albums though.

What do you think? Let us know below in the comments.



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