Rakim was born on January 28, 1968. As one half of the Golden Age Hip-Hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he’s widely recognized as one of the most influential and skilled rappers in the history of the genre. Rakim’s impact on Hip-Hop is immeasurable, as he raised the bar for MC technique, introducing intricate internal rhymes and multisyllabic rhymes. He departed from the simpler rhyme patterns and improvisational styles that were prevalent before his time.
Rakim played a pivotal role in the shift from old school flows to more complex ones. Before his emergence, the term ‘flow’ wasn’t commonly used, and Rakim is often credited with inventing the concept. His groundbreaking albums with DJ Eric B., including “Paid in Full” (1987), “Follow the Leader” (1988), “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em” (1990), and “Don’t Sweat the Technique” (1992), marked significant milestones in the genre.
“Paid in Full” was even hailed as the greatest Hip-Hop album of all time by MTV in 2006. Rakim himself was ranked as the fourth greatest MC of all time by MTV, and his status as one of the greatest MCs is widely acknowledged within the Hip-Hop community. He’s also earned recognition from The Source, which ranked him as the number one lyricist of all time in 2012.
Rakim’s early life in Wyandanch, New York, shaped his path to Hip-Hop. He initially aspired to become a professional football player but changed course after meeting DJ Eric B., opting for a career in music. His journey into the Nation of Islam, later the Nation of Gods and Earths, influenced his stage name, Rakim Allah, reflecting his status as the “God MC” due to his acclaimed skills.
His partnership with Eric B. from 1985 to 1992 was iconic, with their albums achieving critical acclaim. Their debut album, “Paid in Full,” released in 1987, included hit singles like “I Ain’t No Joke” and “I Know You Got Soul.” The duo’s sophomore release, “Follow the Leader” (1988), further solidified their influence in the Hip-Hop world. Their collaboration reached a peak with “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em” (1990), known for its diverse sounds and complex lyrics. However, their career took a turn with their fourth album, “Don’t Sweat the Technique” (1992), and subsequent legal disputes led to their dissolution.
Rakim’s solo career took off in 1993, leading to the release of his debut solo album, “The 18th Letter,” in 1997. Despite legal troubles and label changes, he continued to create music, including the release of “The Master” (1999). A significant period was spent at Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, although creative differences ultimately led to their separation.
In 2009, Rakim returned with “The Seventh Seal,” marking his comeback. The album, featuring singles like “Holy Are You” and “Walk These Streets”, received mixed reviews but reaffirmed his position in the industry. In 2016, a reunion with Eric B. was announced, leaving fans still hopeful to this day for new material. There’s so much more to learn about him but to put it simply, Rakim’s lyrical prowess and contribution to the evolution of Hip-Hop solidify his legacy as one of the greatest MCs of all time.