Although Method Man was the Wu-Tang Clan's first superstar; the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard became a media fixture due to his larger-than-life personality and RZA became revered as one of rap’s best producers; Raekwon and Ghostface Killah eventually emerged as the rap group's premier rhymers. Rae and Ghost also became the nine-man crew’s most distinguished lyricists, a distinction cemented in 1995 with the landmark, genre-shifting "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…"
Since then, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s not-necessarily rhyming, Mafioso-infused, Islamic-inspired and criminology rap style has been employed, co-opted and mimicked by a legion of rappers, but none of them have been able to capture Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s distinctive microphone swagger.
With Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s impending trip to Singapore for Red Bull Music Academy, we decided to compile their best collaborations. Granted, this list could arguably be culled solely from the duo’s "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…," but their voluminous catalogs mandate deeper examination. Now that the smoke is clear, here it is.
5. ‘The M.G.M.,’ from Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ (1997)
Fight night in Las Vegas brings out the star power – as well as Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s storytelling abilities. The pair details a Chavez bout that eventually gets stopped and is filled with enough colorful characters to fit a comic book. It may be the best rap song ever about The Sweet Science.
4. ‘Fish,’ from Ghostface Killah featuring Raekwon and Cappadonna’s ‘Ironman’ (1996)
The lone ‘Ironman’ track not produced by The RZA, the True Master-produced ‘Fish’ features the three lyrical swordsmen flexing esoteric rhymes that bounce from everything from Ghostface’s mention of Afro picks to Raekwon’s name-dropping Fidel Castro and Liberace. As Cappadonna said, cold like Eskimo flow, indeed.
3.‘Bring Da Ruckus,’ from Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ (1993)
In what can now be deemed a clear case of career foreshadowing, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon deliver the two first verses on the Wu-Tang Clan’s landmark debut album, 1993’s ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).’ Tony Starks and the Chef rapped on this skeletal track in a much more straight-forward style than they have displayed throughout the respective careers, two of the most prolific and acclaimed of the Wu-Tang Clan members. Fly like Egyptian Musk, as Ghostface would say.
2.‘Apollo Kids,’ from Ghostface Killah’s ‘Supreme Clientele’ (2000)
Ghostface Killah kicks the song off with lyrics of fury, documenting with a stream-of-conscious flow the aftermath of showing his face (he appeared in early Wu-Tang Clan press materials with his face obscured, as he was on the run from police) and how his raps are like ziti. Raekwon bats clean-up, bringing his own lyrical hustle invasion with a dizzying third verse. They live to spit the real.
1.‘Verbal Intercourse’ ft. Nas, from Chef Raekwon Guest Starring: Ghost Face Killer A/K/A Tony Starks’ ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…’ (1995)
On ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…,’ Raekwon and Ghostface Killah introduced the signature coded rhyme style that would become the hallmark of their careers. On this majestic collaboration with Nas, the pair established themselves as more than simply Wu-Tang Clan rappers. They were bona fide superstars in their own right, able to shine on a track featuring the equally razor sharp Nas. Ghostface says it best: ‘I’ma end this with a big, red cherry on top / Me, Nas and Rae got the best product on the block.’ Knowledge, God.