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In digging through my (offensively) humongous collection of rap cassettes, I came across Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx (AKA The Purple Tape). When I found it I got extremely excited because I had forgotten that I possessed this tasty morsel of golden-age rap memorabilia. It also made me curious to see if a) it was worth anything and b) if there was any info on why they made the cassette purple. I didn’t find info on my first inquiry, but I did find a little Rae interview and a separate video where he explains his reasoning. I also found out that this tape is not the only purple piece of musical pop culture.
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, I don’t believe the actual cassette was tinted purple. Meaning that a more apporpriate title might have been “the clear tape with the purple case” (I think that title has a certain ring to it).
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), has thankfully been remastered and will be released (coincidentally) TODAY!!! I do not, however, know the color of either of these albums. 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…
LONG LIVE THE PURPLE TAPE!!!!
As for why the tape was made purple, here is Raekwon in his own words:
AllHipHop.com: 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….
and a different video version
Which purple tape shirt is gullier?