Pusha-T Travels To Shaolin To Explain The Importance Of Raekwon’s Purple Tape (Video)
Twenty-three years ago today (August 1, 1995) Raekwon released his classic debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… The approach to the album was to give off the essence of a John Woo feature film with Raekwon as the star, Ghostface Killah in the supporting role, and audio cameos from Wu-Tang family and Nas. Thanks to its standout cassette edition, Chef Rae’s debut is commonly referred to as “The Purple Tape.”
Raekwon’s celebrated album continues to inspire Rap albums. RZA’s unconventional production, the MCs’ short, coded bars, and rugged imagery are beacons of inspiration to many. Moreover, the Staten Island, New Yorker addressed the underground cocaine trade in his music in a way that would influence a class of future artists.
Pusha-T is one such MC. This decade, the Clipse co-founder and Wu-Tang Clan’s Shallah Raekwon have collaborated on soundtracks and compilations. When King Push recorded this year’s DAYTONA release, he hoped to conjure the MC/producer chemistry with Kanye West that rivaled Chef and The Abbott.
For the album anniversary, Pusha-T visited Staten Island’s Stapleton Houses and spoke about the LP’s influence. “When I’m saying [on DAYTONA that] ‘This is my Purple Tape…,’ it’s like, to me it was like the best rendition that I could’ve tried,'” says the G.O.O.D. Music President in the Vevo produced special. Before the release of O.B.4.C.L., Staten Island just seemed like a faraway land to the rapper. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to Staten Island before, ever…something we were intrigued by when we heard all this music. We were like, ‘What the hell is going on out here? Like, ‘where’s this level of creativity coming from?'”
Pusha elaborates on the street slang employed by Wu. “I was just like, ‘Man, these guys are creative they have their own language, their own lingo…I knew it was hood.'” He adds, “It gave you that hood perspective that we all thought, ‘Okay, this what’s going on outside where we’re from, but this is their version of it’…I felt like we could connect and relate to it.”
Raekwon’s hallmark LP gave Pusha an outsider’s perspective with a relatable feel, which he feels is the ultimate lesson learned from the album. “You seen aspiration, you seen the hustle, but you also saw the hope for a brighter day,” Pusha says. “It was references to their kids, and their legacies and living and making sure they got out of it.”
Like Pusha’s seven-song LO in a crowded and exciting 2018, the purple plastic stood apart. The “G.O.O.D. Music golden child” goes on to talk about how just how essential it was to have this record in your catalog. Having been released during what is considered to be the Golden Era of Hip Hop, Pusha-T reminisces on just how the album stood the test of time, “All types of huge Hip-Hop acts are surrounding this time, and it just stood out, you know, above and beyond…I played it out so much [that] I rubbed the writing off the tape. It was a must have.”
It’s no surprise that Pusha channeled his love for this project into the making of his own solo album. Having been proposed by the project’s producer Kanye West to bring forth 25 songs that he absolutely loved, the influence of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… became more and more transparent in the production of DAYTONA.
“We were searching for a feeling, and I didn’t know at the time what he was asking for. And he just said, ‘Give me 25 songs that you just love.'” He did. “As we listed the songs, I would say things [like] ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces,’ ‘Glaciers of Ice,’ you know, there was certain records I was pulling out…as we listened through those songs, we would take them off the list and [Kanye West] would say things like, ‘That’s the feeling!'” Kanye held Push’ to that standard. “If it can’t evoke that feeling, then that’s not what we [are] putting on the album,’ said DAYTONA‘s producer. Pusha’ closes, “The inspiration and the feeling was something that we were try’na harness and accidentally harnessed by just saying the records I love.”