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Raekwon first appeared as one of the original eight members of the Staten Island juggernaut Wu-Tang Clan, quickly emerging as a fan favorite for a punchy, hardboiled flow reminiscent of Kool G. Rap. In 1995, he released Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, a classic lionized for hits like "Ice Cream" and "Incarcerated Scarfaces," popularizing Mafia-inspired crime rhymes and perfecting the Wu aesthetic. Conversely, his second solo album, Immobilarity, was a huge commercial and artistic disappointment and was (somewhat unfairly) criticized for representing Wu-Tang's musical decline. After 2003's The Lex Diamond Story, Raekwon spent several years working on a sequel to Cuban Linx, first with Dr. Dre's Aftermath imprint, and then independently. Fans questioned whether the album would ever come out, but when it was finally released in 2009, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II marked a major comeback for Rae and topped several year-end best-of lists.
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