Raekwon is an American rapper and a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. He released his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… in 1995, and has since recorded numerous solo albums, as well as continuing to work with Wu-Tang and providing an extensive number of guest contributions to other hip hop artist’s works. He is the founder of his own label ICEH20 Records.
Raekwon is often cited as one of the pioneers of the Mafioso rap sub-genre. In 2007, the editors of About.com placed him on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007). The Miami New Times described Raekwon’s music as being “street epics” that are “straightforward yet linguistically rich universes not unlike a gangsta Iliad.”
In 1994, Raekwon signed a solo deal with Loud Records and released his debut single “Heaven & Hell” for the soundtrack to the movie Fresh. His first solo LP, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, was released in 1995 to rave reviews, though not to as much commercial success as fellow Wu-Tang member Method Man’s Tical. According to Steve Huey of allmusic, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… contained a narrative album format revolving around cocaine trafficking, criminal activity, and a rise through the ranks of the illegal industry.” Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah appeared on over half of the album’s tracks, with Wu-Tang member RZA producing the album in its entirety.