XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:

Aug. 1, 1995: On this day, in 1995, Raekwon delivered a visual album that changed the rap game. The word "classic" often gets thrown around a lot like a beach ball at a music festival, but when talking about Raekwon's debut album, the term is apropos. In short, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... is a classic album that revolutionized hip-hop.

Raekwon's LP dropped in 1995, at a time when the Wu-Tang Clan ruled the world. With the success of their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), each member was able to broker solo deals at various record labels while maintaining control of their projects. And while Cuban Linx... was not the most anticipated of the Wu solo projects (Method Man owned that title) it went on to be one of the most critically acclaimed projects in the Shaolin cannon.

The initial title, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx N***az, gives a better understanding of who the Chef was speaking to with his work. While the entire Clan represented the raw street energy of New York, Linx was for and dedicated to the grimy yet Cristal bottle-poppin' hustlers and bringing their world to life. Linx was the soundtrack for cats taking penitentiary chances on a regular basis. The cinematic feel of the album expanded past the sampled bit of dialogue from various films to the crediting of Ghostface Killah as a "guest star" and executive producer RZA as "the director."

The RZA understood the potency of Rae and Ghost as a team. He told XXL in 2005 why the duo was special.

"Rae and Ghost together, those two right there were notorious kids from two different projects," he explained. "Cuban Linx was an opportunity for Rae and Ghost to give us the street side. When we did it, I said, 'Yo, it's gonna be a very dangerous album; it's gonna change the game. We gonna invite those demons, every negative stereotype, and deal with them.' It's like the s**t was lived; a lot of it was lived or experienced in one form or another. It's so natural, it don't feel like songs. It was a chance to show the world not only how New York lived, but also how Shaolin preserved New York."

"An older generation was leaving and getting older. We're from the crack generation—that real gritty, rough project s**t. We was on corners at 15, 16, doing s**t you couldn't imagine," he concluded.

The album, which includes classic tracks "Criminology," "Ice Cream," "Incarcerated Scarfaces," "Rainy Dayz," "Wu-Gambinos" and "Verbal Intercourse" featuring Nas, introduced a whole new world to listeners. The influence of this album can be heard today in the cocaine-fueled work of Pusha T and others. Even Rae's contemporaries, such as Jay-Z and Nas, upped their game in the wake of Linx.

But why did the album also have a nickname as "Purple Tape" though? During an August 2012 interview with 3 Little Digs, Rae explained the inspiration behind its color.

"You know what inspired it? Redman had a tape that was red," Rae explained at the 1:30-mark in the video. "I knew a lot of hip-hop n***as always run around their cars and have a bunch of CDs on the floor, in the chair or whatever-whatever. So I'm like how do I make sure my s**t stands out from everybody else's?'"

On Feb. 24, 2020, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album also inspired an impressive sequel, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, in 2009, but the original still remains a bellwether in hip-hop.

Watch Raekwon's "Ice Cream" Video Featuring Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Cappadonna Below

Watch Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" Video Below

Watch Raekwon's "Criminology" Video Featuring Ghostface Killah Below

Watch Raekwon's "Glaciers of Ice" Video Featuring Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa Below

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