September is always a busy month in the world of hip-hop and rap music, and this year's calender month marks another landmark period for the booming genre, with a host of big releases attracting attention. Amongst the release schedule, three records in particular standout, namely, Kid Cudi's debut LP Man On The Moon: The End Of The Day, Jay-Z's star-stuffed The Blueprint 3 and Wu-Tang mainstay Raekwon's long-awaited Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. Yet although those first two records are securing the bulk of press hype, it's Raekwon that's seemingly walked away triumphant from this rap battle royal, delivering an album of blazingly fierce rap.
Whilst Raekwon's competitors have been focussing on dressing up their records with head-scratching concepts (Cudi's Man On The Moon is divided into five acts with Common narrating the action, go figure) and an overload of big name guests (Kanye West, Rihanna, Drake, Young Jeezy and even Empire Of The Sun make appearances on The Blueprint 3), Raekwon gets down to business on OB4CL2. The infamous Wu-Tang rapper sounds entirely uninhibited on the record, letting loose some serious lyrical fire throughout. Of course, there's a few hook-ups with producers like Dr. Dre and the late great J Dilla, but beyond that, the record is a reminder for all who'd forgotten that Wu-Tang Clan and especially Raekwon are as potent and essential as ever. - Dave Ruby Howe