The Saga Continues

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Classics Revisited #2: The Purple Tape

This will bring back great memories for those old enough to remember, and for the younger fans, something to think about as they already heard about this.
The Purple Tape aka Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is a tasty morsal of golden age rap memorabilia, Why were the tapes Purple? how valuable and reare is it?
Apparently on 10,000 of these Tapes were ever made. I have seen a sealed one go on eBay for about $5k in 2010.

Personal research suggest that the first purple polyphonic product was The Pixies first demo, which was released in 1987. It was nicknamed The Purple Tape by Pixie fans because it was (surprise, surprise) purple. However, there is no real proof that this tape was actually tinted purple. Meaning that a more apporpriate title might have been “the clear tape with the purple case”.

Next came Lisa Loeb’s demo (what’s up with demos and the color purple?) in 1991. Which for all you LL fans (no Todd Smith aka LL Cool J), has been remastered and re-released sometime in 2008. There is also no concrete proof that this cassette were coloured purple be it previously or re-release.  Oh yeah, Lisa Loeb’s current release is called the Purple Tape CD (wack).

This all leads to the release of Only Built for Cuban Linx in 1995 (AKA the Only Real Purple Tape). Luckily record companies were still making tapes, and even luckilier (is that a word?) Raekwon requested that his tape be purple. Good call Rae…

So why did Rae call it the purple tape?
Lets first look at the title of the album, according to Wikipedia 'The album's title serves as "a warning of its musical potency to those not prepared for the uncut raw contained within." Although the original intended title was "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Niggaz", this idea was eventually dismissed in favor of a more market-friendly one. Ghostface Killah later specified "We already had the title. The chain we used to rock back in the days was Cuban links. So Rae came up with the theory, like a Cuban link is one of the roughest chains to break. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Real niggas, strong niggas."

The purple Tape in reference to the album was because the original cassette's plastic was entirely purple; Raekwon marked the tape distinctively as a reference to drug dealers' method of tagging their product, to distinguish it from that of others'. "I wanted to portray an image that if I was selling crack or dimes in the street, you would recognize these dimes from other niggas' dimes.
This was confirmed on an interview Rae did with

" Where’d you get the idea to come out with [Only Built 4 Cuban Linx as] a purple tape? I thought it was a defect when I got mine.?

Raekwon: Only because being that we from the block, we was finagling in certain situations where the things that you was dealing with had to be separated from what everybody else was dealing with. I always ran with that as one of my traits in anything I do to separate myself from others. Back when we used to sling and do what we do, we would have certain color caps [to viles]. Certain color caps resembled certain people that were doing s**t different than everybody else. It’s like, “Yo, this is our color. Anybody step on this color, you got an issue at that time.” So I decided with my music, this is my world—this is my thing and I wanna put a color on it just so everybody will know. That’s how the purple tape even came in existence. I think I had wanted a red one at first and then I thought how somebody else had did it already. I made it like that specifically…."

Indeed.. The album from cover art, concept, packaging was all thought through, the music (production, features, lyrics, subject matter etc) was also thought through, this is what makes this album a classic and what makes the Wu-Tang Clan the best collective to ever emerge from Hip-Hop.
The album was loosely composed to play like a film with Raekwon as the "star," fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah as the "guest-star," and producer RZA as the "director.' It features appearances from every member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and served as an introduction to Cappadonna.  It also features an acclaimed guest appearance from rapper Nas, which marked the first collaboration with a non-affiliated artist on a Wu-Tang related album.

In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Cuban Linx number 480 on their updated version of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Need I say more?

Long Live The Purple Tape!!!
Long Life Wu-Tang!!!
Wu-Tang 4 Ever!!!

Check back every last week sunday of the month another Wu-Tang classic Revisted.

Put Together by Dark7 for