Remembering My Story of The Purple Tape, 20 Years Later

I originally wanted this to go live on August 1, 2015. My apologies for my lateness.

The summer of 1995 was indescribable. It was probably one of my most impressionable years of listening to music. Hip-Hop was on the verge of becoming a very big thing and the artist were becoming scary good. In 1994, Nas had dropped “Illmatic” and really changed the landscape and sound of lyricism and then Biggie drops “Ready To Die” that plays well into 1995 and the remixes to One More Chance and the unveil of Junior Mafia made his impact unreal.

At the time I was “Pro Biggie” till the casket dropped and honestly wasn’t a big fan of Nas in the moment. Another crew I was iffy on was Wu Tang Clan. A lot of people that know me from my childhood would swear I’m lying to you. Those may also be the same people that swore every time I was playing music, it was a Wu Tang Song, when it was actually something Def Squad, Mobb Deep or Tribe Called Quest. I guess sound association is what they were going by.

36 Chambers really didn’t grab me in the time it popped. In fact, I wasn’t really sure if I liked Wu at all. My guy J Dub was a huge fan though! He was big on Method Man and the whole clan but, he made sure he copped everything Wu that was available. C.R.E.A.M was undeniable and I won’t front on that, but without Dub, I probably wouldn’t even be considered a Wu fan. No question, I turned the corner when “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” dropped.

When the “Glaciers of Ice” video dropped, I was kind of hypnotized by the sound. This broken carousel type of sound with bass was just something you literally never heard before. The woman that’s just singing over the track but under the track was just flat out different, but it worked. RZA is genius for putting that all together. You got to be out your mind and not care to think in that realm of production. The video simple, gritty and entertaining. The Method Man dance shot was hilarious to me at the time.

At the time I was not a fan of Masta Killah or Ghostface at all but Raekwon became super dope to me after seeing this video and hearing his verse.

I remember the day Dub bought “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”. He said “Dog! You got hear this Raekwon! It’s COLD! And dude…The tape is PURPLE!”

I’m thinking, “Why in the world is the tape purple!?” As a young teen, the idea of “marketing” and “standing out” didn’t even cross my mind. 20 years later, this album is simple described as “The Purple Tape”. Iconic for its material and it’s presentation. Something that you literally just don’t get anymore. Needless to say I was a little upset purchasing the CD and realizing it wasn’t the same color. I was using that paper route money for the “Purple Tape” not the “Red CD” but it didn’t change what happened to my ears when I hit play.

The only thing I didn’t like about this album on first listen was Ghostface was on almost every song, but listening back, Rae and Ghost are truly one of the best duos in hip-hop ever! They just mesh, blend, fit and makes sense together. I’m now at the point where I really don’t want to hear one without the other, even though they are time tested proven, great emcees.

This album is classic because it helped shaped the way you listen to hip-hop today.

Ice Cream still plays today and women definitely do describe themselves as flavors…ask Diamond. It’s also the first time we’ve heard Cappadonna and his very memorable closeout verse. We all wanted to know “Erica” after she turned around.

Wu Gambinos – The first time the nation heard “I call my brother Sun cause he shine like one”. That’s right kids; Credit Method Man, not Brooklyn from the ATL movie.

Shark Ni**as [Biters] was probably the most controversial interlude on an album at the time and possible ever. Ghostface calls out Biggie and Puffy [not by name] for Biting Nas album cover and makes it clear “I don’t want ni**as sounding like me…on NO ALBUM!” also the “flip it and bounce it on some bullish” line was said for the first time on this album.

Criminology, Fire! Verbal Intercourse, Fire! Heaven & Hell Fire!

Incarcerated Scarfaces is one of my favorite rap song EVER! Like Top 20 no question. So many quotables and one of the best rap verses I’ve ever heard is on this song.

“I move rhymes like retail, make sure ish sell, from where we at to my man’s cell”

This album and other Wu Projects need to be listened to by everyone, to understand what inspires a lot of A$AP Mobb, Early G.O.O.D Music and TDE albums and performances. This album impacted every region musically. Raekwon may not make a lot of “best rapper ever” list, but this album is cemented forever in hip-hop history and I would say, your collection falls short if you do not have this album in it. I am forever a fan of Raekwon because of this album and that’s not hard when so many timeless moments occur in one project. Listen to this album to hear where a lot of “mafioso, scarface and dope lingo” comes from.

It’s 2015, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” is a strong standing classic rap album and Dub’s oldest son, Raekwon is riding through the city with his favorite artist music turned up, much like his pops and I used to do, to the artist that shares his name. Long Live The Purple Tape!

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