(Akron Beacon Journal)
....If you call yourself a true hip-hop fan and you don't know who Rakim is, you suck.
Sorry to be so blunt, but it's true.
Way back in the stone age known as the 1980s, Rakim and DJ/producer partner Eric B upped the lyrical ante for all emcees with their watershed debut album Paid in Full. It featured classic tunes I Ain't No Joke, My Melody, the title cut, Move the Crowd and of course their biggest hit Chinese Arithmetic (that's a joke).
While many rappers were still using the simple, old-school, Run DMC style, Rakim brought imagery, different flows and a pre-gangsta seriousness to his lyrics that shifted ''the game'' from the basic, last line of the verse is the rhyming word to more complex schemes that featured rhymes within rhymes.
Eric B & Rakim followed up that classic banger with another, Follow the Leader, featuring Microphone Fiend, the Funkadelic-sampling Lyrics of Fury and the kinetic title track.
Eric B & Rakim broke up after Don't Sweat the Technique, which featured the uptempo Know the Ledge, a first person narrative of a street hustler who realizes he's destroying his community and is living on borrowed time.
Rakim has a new album, The Seventh Seal, that was released last fall after nearly a decade of recording, rerecording and generally taking his time. The album is just OK, but worth checking out. Hopefully, Ra will give us a nice mix of old and new.
Go to http://www.keepersoftheart.com/ for more information