I have to hand it to the crew at Get on Down, they really know how to do shit right. The specialty label known for their innovative packaging that actually has people purchasing physical copies of music again, today released their most ambitious project to date.
The latest in their hip-hop “Master Series” is a deluxe, limited to 1000 edition box set of Raekwon’s legendary “mafia rap” classic, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, considered by some to be the greatest hip-hop album of all time.
From the press materials:
Hip-hop fans who will salivate at this reissue already know the story: in 1995, Wu-Tang Clan frenzy was at an all-time high. First there was the Wu-Tang Clan’s epic 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which changed the shape of ‘90s hip-hop, with ripples that still resonate today. Then the solo albums, all produced by Wu patriarch RZA: first was Method Man’s Tical (late 1994), then Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (spring 1995).
By the time Raekwon’s debut was ready, fans were knocking each other over on album release day. And so, on August 1, 1995 as the legend goes, the first 10,000 cassette buyers – NOTE TO YOUNG’UNS: back in 1995, fans bought hip-hop albums on cassette more frequently than CD or vinyl – ran home and opened their plastic cases to discover that the tape itself was a stunning shade of lavender.
The rest, as they say, is history… and limited-edition history at that. After the initial purple versions, RCA Records switched to the usual clear plastic to house the legendary tape. “The Purple Tape” became an instant collector’s item, a Holy Grail for Wu-Tang disciples, coveted by those who could claim to be the earliest devotees of Raekwon’s lyrical genius. The album is still called “The Purple Tape” to this day, by Raekwon and other Wu-Tang members.
But, colors aside, let’s not forget about the album itself! Backed by arguably RZA’s most wide-ranging, hard-hitting and at-times lush beats on any Wu-Tang family album before or since, Raekwon and co-MC Ghost Face Killer run the lyrical gamut, introducing “Wu-Gambinos” slang, dishing out “Ice Cream” for the ladies, and melting “Glaciers of Ice” along the way to influencing just about every MC who followed in their wake.
Boasting five singles – “Heaven & Hell,” “Glaciers of Ice” (promo only), “Criminology,” “Ice Cream / Incarcerated Scarfaces” and “Rainy Dayz” – the album was revered from the get-go, earning 4.5 out of 5 Mics in The Source (retroactively upgraded to 5 Mics in 2002) alongside raves in publications from SPIN to the Los Angeles Times. It went gold in two months.
Beyond Ghost Face (who shines on 12 out of the album’s 17 tracks), guest appearances from Nas, Method Man, Inspektah Deck, Master Killa, RZA and the debut of Cappadonna (aka Cappachino) locked the album as an undisputed classic. It’s a record that hit hard in 1995 and continues to resonate with new fans to this day, 17 years later.
As Raekwon explains in the new “Purple Tape Cassette Box” liner notes book: “A lot of rappers wasn’t being creative [at that time] and we came with a potion that just shocked the game. We introduced shoes, we brought about different names and aliases. That record inspired maybe 95% of the game’s lyrics [afterwards], and integrity on just making music, period. People from our era know how real it is. It’s timeless.”
Weighing in at 4 pounds, the purple cassette is housed in a glass-top, “piano lacquer” display case with gold-colored hardware, embossed white-on-black Raekwon logo and “The Purple Tape” placard on front. It includes a 32-page, hard-cover book with text by Brian Coleman, featuring an in-depth interview with and track-by-track reminisces by Raekwon.
The Purple Tape Cassette Box is only available at GetOnDown.com, but we’ve got one box set for a lucky Dangerous Minds reader. All you have to do to win is this:
First, follow us on either Facebook or Twitter.
Then send an email to RaekwonContest@gmail.com to enter and we’ll chose one winner at random. You must be a resident of the United States and the winner will be chosen and contacted on Friday. Good luck!