War Report II: The new Cuban Linx II?
I used to think sequels to classic albums were some shit artists would pull when they'd reached the point where they were out of good ideas, and they figured maybe they could dupe people into buying their new shit by naming it after their old shit.
Remember all of those Def Jam albums that had 2000 in the title? That wasn't even in 2000. That was like, 1998. I guess those weren't sequels per se (though the godawful Tical 2000 could be viewed as a sequel), but they were part of the same overall trend of coming up with gimmicky ideas for albums by artists who already used up a lot of their best ideas - a trend that obviously continues today, with those hybrid R&B albums they put out last year, and these gimmicky collaboration albums they're putting out this year, like Nas and Damien Marley's Distant Relatives (in stores today!), Ludacris' Battle of the Sexes, and Rae, Meth and Ghost's Wu Massacre.
Raekwon's Only Built Cuban Linx Part II was probably not the first example of a sequel to a classic rap album that didn't come off like a sad, cynical attempt by an artist to cash in on the goodwill they built up back when they were worth a shit, like a strung out Dukie from the Wire trying to get one more $20 bill out of Officer Pryzbylewski, but it's the only one I'm willing/capable of coming up with at this late point in the afternoon. And it's probably the one most responsible for this current trend of new rap albums named after classic rap albums from the mid '90s. Would there be a Liquid Swords 2, or a War Report 2 supposedly coming out this year, if it weren't for OB4CL II?
Both are actually directly related to the Raekwon album, with the GZA obviously coming from the same crew, and Capone-N-Noreaga being signed to Rae's quasi-independent vanity imprint. I remember hearing about CNN signing to Ice H20 (or whatever it's called) and finding it weird that anyone other than Rakwon's weed carriers (remember those clowns?) would sign to a Raekwon label. Why wouldn't CNN just form their own quasi-independent vanity imprint? I'm thinking about getting my own joint venture with Koch, and I don't even rap. But who knows. Maybe CNN are onto something. Maybe they saw the success of OB4CL II and they realized the value of releasing a sequel to a classic album that at least tries to live up to the original.
Cuban Linx II wasn't the most popular rap album released last year, but I think I read somewhere that it sold like, 300,000 copies. Which, per my theory laid out in that post the other day on Jay Electronica, is the 2010 equivalent of going platinum. Going 2K10 platinum might be as worthless as being the world's greatest grandpa, in the grand scheme of things, but Raekwon is at least fortunate in that OB4CLII was released on his own quasi-independent vanity imprint. He's probably making way more money per album sold than if he were on Def Jam. If he can use the same ability to tell from a good idea that he used on Cuban Linx II to help CNN craft a worthwhile sequel to the War Report, they could be in for a substantial windfall.
Only problem is, we don't know for a fact that Capone-N-Noreaga are even capable of making a great album. The original War Report was the tits, but Capone was hardly even on it, and it was rumored that Tragedy wrote a lot of Noreaga's rhymes. Indeed, Noreaga hasn't sounded as coherent since. I'll admit to enjoying the first Noreaga solo album, N.O.R.E., but that was mostly for the production and hilarious lines like, "Neptunes got a cocker spaniel." The second CNN album - the first one with a significant contribution from Capone - was mostly crap, aside from having one of the last really good (as opposed to merely good) beats by DJ Premier. This is not like Cuban Linx II, where we knew a great sequel was possible, at least in theory.
I'd say CNN's best bet for War Report 2 is to focus on getting good production. They could try to get Tragedy to write some good rhymes, but he's probably in jail (he's always in jail), and I'm not sure how well they get along anyway. You know how rappers can't get along well with one another. They're like the one kid who fails kindergarten. Shit, they might actually be the one kid who fails kindergarten. All of them. A War Report sequel with suspect rhymes might still be worth checking out, for potential lulz. Noreaga might be getting even more amusing in his old age. I heard that Guru tribute he put, out one day in the van on the way to work, and I almost had to pull over on the side of the road. When he started talking about how he and Guru got drunk together so many times, it was heartwarming and hilarious and inappropriate all at once. It may have been the single best thing he's done since the 1990s.