Raekwon reflects back on his "Purple Tape" aka "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." and the decision to make the original cassette tape purple.
Raekwon continues to deliver new content year after year, but his endeavors as a solo artistÂ all started with the classicÂ Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Â dubbed "The Purple Tape" because the originalÂ cassette tape was purple. As Rae preps his upcoming release,Â F.I.L.A (Fly International Luxurious Art) and continues to tour, he took a moment to reflect on the origins of theÂ purple tape with Complex.
Check out a fewÂ excerptsÂ from his interview below, where he discusses the decision to make the tape purple andÂ reveals it could have almost been a green tape, since that was his favorite color.
When you put the Purple Tape out, did you think it would have the impact on hip-hop that itâs had?
When I put it out, I believed in it a lot. When we made it, it was my turn in the Clan to do my thing and I was like âFuck that, Meth and them niggas got heaters. They got classic albums,â so I needed one under my belt. I took everyone into my world on that album. Everybody always looked at that gangster type of street hustle rap as my chamber. I just came in with the shit that I grew up around and was just talking the tales of the streets. RZA said âYour shit is soâ¦to the other side, but itâs needed.â He just said âYo, stay in your box,â so I would just talk about the shit that I related to. Keys, jewelry, drugs, bitches, whores and whatever. Thatâs what I brought to the table.
Whose idea was it to make the actual tape purple?
It was mine. It was my thing because at the end of the day, I felt like that was my baby. I wanted to make sure that the average cat that would listen to it had something special in his cassette deck. Like, out of all of his tapes, my shit was private; my shit was for special people. Like you had to be somebody to rock that, so I wanted to separate that from everybody elseâs. At first I was gonna do it green, âcause green is my favorite color; I like olive green, but they couldnât do that color. Next thing you know, they was like âBlah, blah, blah, blah and purpleâ and I was like âA lot of niggas might think purple is for girlsâ but I liked the color because it stood out, so I was like âFuck it, letâs go with purple.â Next thing you know, everybody gave it a name of its own, because you didnât have to name the album no more, it was like âYo, listen toÂ this. I donât know what the fuck the purple tape is, but get that shit.â And thatâs how it came to be. It built its own name.
Do you ever wish that you putÂ "Only Built 4 Cuban Linxâ¦Pt. ll"Â out sooner? Like, maybe in â99 instead of â09?
Nah, I didnât know when it was coming. Itâs hard to do things over; when we made that shit the first time, we wasnât thinkinâ about doing it over. It was just for that time. Only built for Cuban linx niggasâthatâs how we felt. We were rockinâ the Cubans; we called them pythons though, that chain that you canât pop. You gotta put your foot in a niggaâs chest to take that shit off. It was just about the bond, but when we made it, we wasnât thinking about part two because that was the foundation for me as a solo artist. So I just wanted to do my job and come with a great record.