Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (1995)
What’s your 5-year plan?
Standard interview fare, yes, but the answers can go a long way in determining a candidate’s ambition.
It’s safe to say the folks at Marvel had a 5-year plan leading up to this year, strategically placing solo movies around the group-based Avengers films.
I’m not sure what the vision is for the next 5 years (though I’m certain the decision-makers have a very clear picture), but here’s my hastily assembled excel chart of the 5 years leading up to this year:
The question is, did they borrow their 5-year vision from the Wu-Tang Clan?
The plans aren’t dissimilar (one of the Wu-Tang solo albums was even called Ironman!) and it was certainly a lucrative strategy, worthy of copying:
Raekwon is the Captain America of the Clan.
He’s not the loudest, not the flashiest of the group.
But like his Avengers counterpart Steve Rogers/Captain America, there’s a quiet determination about him.
To borrow from the opening to track 5:
” He looks determined without being ruthless. Something heroic in his manner. There’s a courage about him…Comes across so calm. Acts like he has a dream. Full of passion”
I also appreciate that Raekwon was open about his dreams, including continuing to move on to bigger and better things, taking care of his family, and striving to be original.
One slight issue: Only Built… is a solo album that doesn’t feel like a solo album.
Whereas Tony Stark’s father makes a small appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, Tony Starks (aka Ghostface Killah) appears here on just about every track!
Although the back & forth can be effective, it’s misleading to call Starks a ‘guest star’ here.
Though from what I gather, Only Built… is meant to play out like a film, so maybe movies are supposed to have stars & guest stars appear together.
It just feels a bit crowded; I can’t see a Captain America picture being enhanced by Robert Downey Jr. chiming in every few minutes.
If the Wu-Tang Clan really had the 5-year-solo-albums-interspersed-between-group-projects plan mapped out in advance, nicely done. If not, it still worked (and it’s still working for Marvel), nicely done either way.
Talent is important, bravado can sell a lot of records/movie tickets.
But sometimes, the more important skill is ambition.
And Captain America & Raekwon have plenty of that to spare.