Today, we acknowledge the date of birth of an emcee whose innovative skill set in the beginning of hip-hop’s true golden era changed the blueprint for the hip-hop emcee…forever, Rakim Allah.
In a highly composed and reserved manner, Rakim pioneered the use of compound rhyming by using words that have two or more syllables in one rhyme. Such creation is evident in Paid In Full, the debut album from the class act duo responsible for his regal hip-hop status, Eric B. & Rakim. One of the album’s most iconic songs its debut single “Eric B. Is President” showcase a mesmerizing example of Rakim’s multi-syllable use with bars like, “But can you detect what’s coming next from the flex of the wrist? Say indeed and I’ll proceed ’cause my man made a mix…”
Rakim’s ability to own a mighty pen and a strategic mind was a great aid in his deed of changing the landscape for the hip-hop emcee in the mid-eighties. He took the simplistic rhyme scheme birthed by true school rappers and developed a way to spit complex bars in a modern style that deemed threatening to fellow golden era rappers. Each bar Rakim dropped was potently permeated with lyrics of cognizant self-awareness- mostly due to his roots with the Nation of Islam and involvement with the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, grandstand remarks with an avid poetic flair.
In the mid-eighties, the deeds of Rakim secured New York City’s position as being the region to give birth to elite creative lyricism. This is proven and based on the reality that many emcees who surfaced after the sleek God emcee made classic efforts to use an exclusive approach on the mic. While bringing into existence a new style of rhyming, Rakim elevated the implementation of extended vocabulary and also unintentionally added the demand for cleverness in a hip-hop emcee, eventually giving birth to a new generation of rappers.
Starting with Paid in Full, to Follow the Leader-with its title track “Follow the Leader” and “Microphone Fiend” being heralded as certified golden era classics, following Let the Rhythm Hit and Don’t Sweat the Technique, Rakim solidified his impalpable legacy amid hip-hop golden era, 1986-1992, respectively. The evolution of gangsta rap in the early 90s certainly played a role in the commercial success for the Eric B. and Rakim duo but did not halt the class act rapper from creating. For the true lyrical ear opener, Rakim’s solo efforts The 18th Letter (1998) and The Master (1999) are both considered to be Rakim classics, mostly for those who share the same school of thought as the God MC. He continued to provide the masses with quality poetic and daring tunes, which garners appreciation from hip-hop listeners worldwide and is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest if the greatest emcee of all time.
Happy Birthday to THE GOD MC himself, Rakim Allah.