Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II
Official release date: September 8
The Verdict: Despite Raekwon's personal promise to us that this thing actually existed and would someday be released, we'll admit, we didn't believe it until it was on our hard drive (it leaked yesterday). There are 22 dense, dense tracks here, so it's hard to sum up after just a few listens, but on first impression, it's exactly what Rae said it would be — a hard, ruthless, druggy affair, made strictly for people who know what The Purple Tape is. And it really feels like something that was put together carefully over a long time: There are no duds among the beats (J Dilla's "House of Flying Daggers" and RZA's "New Wu" are the standouts), but it's the lyrics that really pop. Ghostface, Rae's partner in crime, shows up six times, often getting super raunchy (maybe he wanted to get it out of his system before the all-grown-up Wizard of Poetry?) And best of all? Not one Jonas Brothers reference!