The Blueprint 3 by Jay-Z might be the week's No. 1 album. But the other major September 8 hip-hop release, Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . . . Pt. II, can still claim a victory.
For three days during the week of its release, the Wu-Tang Clan member's fourth solo album -- and sequel to his 1995 debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx -- was iTunes' No. 1 album. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, selling 68,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album also bows at No. 2 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
I was shocked, says Raekwon, who released the project on his Ice H20 label through EMI. My fans really stuck up for me in a way they never have before. It was one of those joyful, teary moments.
The sales picture for Pt. II is particularly impressive because the album arrived with little radio airplay or mainstream media attention, instead generating buzz from overwhelmingly positive reviews and fan anticipation.
Raekwon's set, by many critical accounts, is a triumph. Pt. II picks up where Raekwon's celebrated solo debut left off -- from its kung fu references and rhyme-slaying guest appearances (by Method Man, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes, among others) to its cover art, which features Raekwon and Clan-mate Ghostface Killah striking the same pose as on the first album.
To promote Pt. II, EMI and Ice H20 hired the Los Angeles-based Cashmere Agency for an online marketing campaign, which included a series of viral videos and streams of the album tracks House of Flying Daggers and 10 Bricks. Other songs were kept under tight control, however.
Some promotion, however, was unplanned. In August, Raekwon made news for starting a physical fight with New Jersey rapper Joe Budden. But Raekwon isn't proud of the incident. I'm not into bringing negativity to the table when I'm trying to feed my family, he says. That was a young artist acting like he doesn't get it -- but he gets it now.
Bolstered by his comeback, Raekwon says he'd like to do another solo album -- and this time, he won't keep fans waiting. As of today, I feel like a new MC, he says. I know fans want to hear more from me, and I promise there won't be a lengthy wait for Rae again. Not at all.