More Reasons Why Being Deaf Sucks/Rocks – A Tale of Two Sequels

In the last 24 hours I’ve listened to both Blackout 2 and Only Built for Cuban Linx… Pt II. They both came out this year and they’re both long-overdue sequels. And by “long-overdue,” I mean that most of the original diehard fans had long ago given up hope for proper follow-ups.

Yet they both arrived and I’ve got to say that I’ve really got two very different opinions for each album—one sounds dated and stale while the other sounds like a throwback and harnesses the energy of an era.

Now, to be fair, I wasn’t really the biggest fan of either original album. Only Built for Cuban Linx… slayed me sonically, but not necessarily lyrically (though I loved “Verbal Intercourse”). The original Blackout was very fun, but sort of light on substance. So it wasn’t as though I was really trumpeting them; they were enjoyable releases but they didn’t knock my socks off.

Furthermore, I pretty publicly blasted the very notion of Only Built for Cuban Linx… Pt II. When it was originally announced, a few years ago, it was supposed to be on Aftermath, overseen by Dr. Dre and feature Busta Rhymes as heavily as the original featured Ghostface.

I mean, c’mon, does that sound like an album that you’d really want to hear? Busta is way past his “use by” date and the less said about Dr. Dre the better. Can you fault me for being skeptical?

As for Red and Meth, their pairings are rather uneven at best. Look at their sitcom—it was critically maligned, yet even it had moments of inspiration.

But given those histories, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed Only Built for Cuban Linx… Pt II. The album captures the mid-90’s Wu-ness and transplants it firmly into the new millennium. This album sounds like it was written and recorded over a decade ago, in that it sounds like it hails from a time when hip-hop was still good. I mean, except for the songs produced by Dr. Dre, which sound like songs produced by Dr. Dre.

Meanwhile, Blackout 2 sounds like it was produced a decade ago, when hip-hop was a shadow of its former self. It’s got the feel of that turn-of-the-millennium hip-hop—synthetic, not memorable and full of references to Tupac and Biggie.

I guess it really boils down to expectations. I expected Red and Meth to have a more vibrant album than they did. On the other hand, I expected Raekwon’s album to be complete crap and it was far from it.

Score one for the people opposed to prejudice.

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