Raekwon and Ghostface sequel gets everyone in hip-hop revisiting former glories

GZA, Fat Joe and Sadat X have all got follow-up fever. So how long till we get Straight Back to Compton?

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, the mesmerising debut from Wu-Tang Clansman Raekwon changed hip-hop in 1995, as lesser MCs rushed to ram raid the album's crime-flick motifs and crack narratives. Now, 15 years on, the album's sequel is, for different reasons, proving equally influential. If OB4CL2's cover, on which the portlier 2009 versions of Raekwon and his co-star Ghostface Killah recreate their original poses, seems a bit Stars In Their Eyes, then it's indicative of an album whose authors work somewhat sweatily to recapture that mid-90s magic. Nonetheless, the set's success with nostalgic thirtysomething hip-hop heads at the end of last year has seen a slew of Raekwon's 90s peers scampering to re-emerge with facsimiles of former glories.

Sequels are nothing new for hip-hop's heaviest hitters but where Lil Wayne's Tha Carter franchise reflects Weezy's conveyor-belt commercialism and Jay-Z's Blueprint trilogy makes pompous allusions to a non-existent artistic throughline, the 2010 breed of sequel is designed to reboot spluttering careers.

While some of these projects beckon disappointment (GZA is sharpening a sequel to another Wu classic, Liquid Swords), others are relatively risk-free: AZ and Redman are doubling up on middleweight career highs (Doe Or Die 2 and Muddy Waters 2 respectively) and Brand Nubian's Sadat X recently dusted off his Stetson for Wild Cowboys 2, a sequel to his 1996 solo debut, on which he does just enough to deliver the underground hip-hop equivalent of Young Guns 2: Blaze Of Glory rather than City Slickers 2: The Legend Of Curly's Gold.

Speaking of movies, Fabolous's forthcoming Loso's Way 2 is already hamstrung by its cinematic pretensions: where the original homaged Carlito's Way, its mooted successor invokes the duff, direct-to-disc prequel. However, it's still more enticing than JOSE 2, Fat Joe's recent follow-up to 2001's Jealous Ones Still Envy (JOSE), itself a sequel to 1995's Jealous Ones Envy. Joe: nobody's envious of your acronyms. Or increasingly wretched records.

Things look better for Queens-based Capone-N-Noreaga, set to revisit their 1997 debut The War Report. Given that first time around they presented their native Queensbridge and LeFrak City housing projects as "Kuwait" and "Iraq", the stage is set for CNN to ponder the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. Which they won't, but they have upgraded the army-themed original cover. Ironically The War Report 2: Report The War (profound, eh?) has been precipitated in part by Nore's diminishing solo career, which recently saw him following 1998's NORE (a Fat Joe-worthy acronym for Niggaz On the Run, Eating) with SORE (Still On the Run, Eating).

Meanwhile, by jumping on the sequel bandwagon, Busta Rhymes has actually improved his next album's title, ditching the misjudged The Chemo (Busta presumably promising a cure for rap's ills) to Extinction Level Event 2, which hints at a timely resumption of the 1998 original's end-is-nigh gibberish. Actually, let's hope Busta's right this time, before Public Enemy break hip-hop hearts with It Still Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back.

Richard Watson

The GuardianTramp

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