Eric B. & Rakim
Publicity still of Eric B. (left) and Rakim (right)
|Origin||Long Island, New York, U.S.|
|Genres||Hip hop, East Coast hip hop|
|Years active||1986–1993, 2016–present|
|Labels||4th & B'way, Uni, MCA|
|Associated acts||Marley Marl, Jody Watley, Large Professor|
|Members|| Eric B. |
Eric B. & Rakim are an American hip hop duo formed in Long Island, New York, in 1986, composed of DJ Eric B. (born Eric Barrier) and MC Rakim (born William Michael Griffin Jr.). AllMusic wrote that "during rap's so-called golden age in the late '80s, Eric B. & Rakim were almost universally recognized as the premier DJ/MC team in all of hip-hop."Tom Terrell of NPR called them "the most influential DJ/MC combo in contemporary pop music period," while the editors of About.com ranked them as No. 5 on their list of the 10 Greatest Hip-Hop Duos of All-Time.
Eric Barrier was born and raised in the East Elmhurst section of Queens, New York. He played trumpet and drums throughout high school, and later switched to experimenting with turntables prior to graduation. The newly dubbed "Eric B." soon began DJing for radio station WBLS in New York City, including WBLS' promotional events around the city. Barrier wound up meeting Alvin Toney, a promoter based in Queens. Eric B. had been looking for rappers and Toney recommended he use Freddie Foxxx, a Long Island MC. Toney took Eric B. to Foxxx's home, but Foxxx was not there, so Toney suggested another option: William Griffin, a.k.a. Rakim.
Griffin had begun writing rhymes as a teenager in Wyandanch and had taken the name "Rakim" as a result of his conversion to The Nation of Gods and Earths. Eric B. borrowed records from Rakim's brother, Stevie Blass Griffin (who worked at a plant pressing bootleg albums) and began cutting them in the basement for Rakim, who was down there drinking a beer and relaxing. Said Eric B., "I took Fonda Rae's "Over Like A Fat Rat" and said 'This is the bass line I'm going to use for this record.' Rakim spit the beer all over the wall and thought it was the funniest shit in the world. I told Rakim, just like you laughing now you going to be laughing all the way to the bank and be a millionaire one day because of this record."
Eric B. & Rakim decided to record together and came under the tutelage of Marley Marl. Stories vary over who actually produced their first single, 1986s "Eric B. Is President" (often cited as "Eric B For President" because of a mistake made when licensing the recording). Built on the Fonda Rea bass line sample, Eric B. later told AllHipHop, "I took the records to Marley Marl's house in Queensbridge and paid Marley Marl to be the engineer. Marley got paid. That's why he's not a producer; that's why he is not getting publishing. I brought the music. I just couldn't work the equipment because that's not what I did..."
The duo recorded its debut album, Paid in Full , at Power Play Studios in New York. The album was named in part after the Paid in Full posse, a notorious New York collective of gangsters and rappers: including the original 50 Cent, Killer Ben, Kool G Rap and Freddie Foxxx. The Paid in Full posse are featured on the back cover of the album. In 1987, 4th & B'way Records issued the album. After the success of "Eric B. is President", the album climbed into the Top Ten on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.Eric B. would later admit that the album was rushed. "The reason Paid In Full is so short is because we stood in the studio for damn-near a week. The whole album came together in a week. Listen to the lyrics on it and listen to how short they are. That's because Rakim wrote it right there and we'd been in the studio like for a whole forty-eight hours trying to get the album finished." Rakim agrees: "[I] used to write my rhymes in the studio and go right into the booth and read them. When I hear my first album today I hear myself reading my rhymes - but I'm my worst critic. That's what I hear, though - because that's what it was. I'd go into the studio, put the beat down, write the song in like an hour, and go into the booth and read it from the paper..." Marley Marl stated that his cousin MC Shan was an assistant engineer on some tracks, including the single "My Melody," though Eric B. denies this. MTV listed the album as the greatest in hip hop history: 'When Paid in Full was released in 1987, Eric B. and Rakim left a mushroom cloud over the hip-hop community. The album was captivating, profound, innovative and instantly influential. MCs like Run-DMC, Chuck D and KRS-One had been leaping on the mic shouting with energy and irreverence, but Rakim took a methodical approach to his microphone fiending. He had a slow flow, and every line was blunt, mesmeric. And Eric B. had an ear for picking out loops and samples drenched with soul and turned out to be a trailblazer for producers in the coming years.' The record has sold over a million copies and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it platinum in 1995. On the heels of the albums' success, the duo signed a deal with MCA.
Follow the Leader , the duo's follow-up to Paid In Full; saw their production move away from the blunt minimalism of their debut. The title track and "Lyrics of Fury" were two of Rakim's most acclaimed lyrical performances. In 2003, comedian Chris Rock referred to Rakim's rhymes on the "...Fury" as 'lyrically, the best rapping anyone's ever done...' Rock also listed Follow the Leader as 12th on his Vibe magazine's list of the Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time.At the time, the record went largely unnoticed by the mainstream music industry.
In 1989, the pair teamed up with Jody Watley on her single "Friends" from the album Larger Than Life . The song would reach the Top Ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was one of the first notable collaborations between hip hop and dance pop. Eric B. & Rakim rarely collaborated with other rappers. This was evident in early 1990, when KRS-One's Stop the Violence Movement put together the charity single "Self-Destruction". The song featured numerous notable rappers, but Rakim was noticeably absent from the proceedings. He told HalftimeOnline.net years later, "I don't think they hollered at me or they hollered at Eric B. and he didn't say anything to me. I was a little bitter with that shit because I felt I had something to do with bringing consciousness in hip hop to the table. I came out and did what I did in '86 and then you know people started running with it. Then when it comes time to do something they didn't holler at me so I was a little bitter. At the same time a lot of reasons I didn't do records with people is because I never wanted their light to reflect on me. I don't have a problem with it but everybody who knows at that time knows they were trying to say I was responsible for gangsta rap, too. They thought I was that dude in the hood so maybe they didn't holler at me for a reason. I love Kris, though — he definitely contributed a lot to hip hop. I've been on tour with him and I know him as a person. He's a good dude. I like Kris, but they definitely didn't holler at me for that man because I would have definitely did it."
Their 1990 album Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em was not as successful commercially as their first two LPs. Rakim referenced his enigmatic reputation on the song "Set 'Em Straight": "Here's the inside scoop on the fiend/They want to know why I'm seldom seen/'Cause who needs the TV screens and magazines/Or shooting through the city in fly limousines/'Cause one thing I don't need is a spotlight/'Cause I already got light..." He later said about his relative lack of commercial success: "You could sell a couple records and keep your integrity or you could go pop and sell a bunch of records and be gone tomorrow. I was trying to stick to my guns at that point."
Mark Coleman of Rolling Stone stated:
"There's nothing trendy about this impassive duo, no Steely Dan bites or bits of Afrodelic rhetoric here. Eric B. and Rakim are hip-hop formalists devoted to upholding the Seventies funk canon and advancing rap's original verbal mandate. Almost every track on their third album is built on poetic boasts and wicked J.B. samples, but dismissing Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em as some sort of conservative reaction – a gold-chain throwback – completely misses the point. Masters of their appointed tasks, rapper Rakim and Eric B. are also formal innovators. They both can riff and improvise like jazzmen, spinning endless variations on basic themes and playing off each other's moves with chilly intuition. The resulting music is as stark, complex and edgy as Rakim's stone-cold stare on the album cover."
The album was one of the first to receive the honor of a 5 mic rating in The Source . But, much like their debut album, there exists controversy over the production credit.
The duo made an appearance on the soundtrack for the 1991 comedy House Party 2 , ("What's On Your Mind") and also recorded the theme for the film, Juice . Both singles were included on what would become the duo's last album together. Don't Sweat the Technique was released in 1992. The album was not supposed to be the last; but their contract with MCA was due to expire. During the recording of the album, both members expressed an interest in recording solo albums. However, Eric B. refused to sign the label's release contract, fearful that Rakim would abandon him. This led to a court case involving the two musicians and their former label. The legal wrangling eventually led to the duo dissolving completely. Eric B. has clarified that the monetary problems stemmed from labels like Island and others claiming ownership of the masters — not from any financial disputes between him and Rakim:
"The money got split 50 /50 from the door, because I remember people would try to keep shit going. When we first came out, people were saying 'Eric was getting all the money' and 'he was trying to shine more than Rakim,' but that's not true. [I] would go to all the interviews, [because] Rakim didn't want to go to the interviews. He didn't like that part of the business. [But] we split all the money from dime one. I don't care what money I spent in the past, that money is never coming back. Whatever money we made, we split 50/50. Even up until now, we split every dime 50/50."
Eric B. released a self-titled solo album in 1995 on the independent label 95th Street Recordings. Legal issues continued to delay Rakim's solo career, but he finally released The 18th Letter in 1997. In 1999, Rakim's second solo album The Master was released to less favorable reviews. By the turn of the millennium, Eric B. was pursuing other business interests outside of music. Rakim signed with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label in 2000, but the expected album never materialized. Since then, Rakim has made guest appearances with numerous other artists such as Jay-Z ("The Watcher, Part 2"), Truth Hurts ("Addictive"), Nas, KRS-One and Kanye West ("Classic"). In 2002, "Don't Sweat The Technique" appeared in the video game Aggressive Inline . In 2004 "I Know You Got Soul" appeared on the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas , playing on Playback FM. In November 2009, Rakim released The Seventh Seal .
Ownership of the duo's catalog consolidated in 1999, when PolyGram (which owned Island Records, which released Paid in Full) merged with Universal Music Group, an outgrowth of MCA Records, which owned the rest of the duo's albums.
Eric B. & Rakim were announced as one of fifteen finalists to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in September 2011.
On October 20, 2016, Eric B. announced via Twitter that he and Rakim have reunited as a duo after 23 years and would tour in 2017. This was confirmed by Eric B's business representative Uncle Louie during an interview with Rolling Stone.
The duo's first reunion concert was held at the Apollo Theater in New York City on July 7, 2017.In 2018, they announced a 17-date American tour for that spring.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Eric B. & Rakim among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Rakim's rhyming deviated from the simple rhyme patterns of early 1980s hip hop. His free-rhythm style ignored bar lines and had earned comparisons to Thelonious Monk. ' Ben Ratliff wrote that Rakim's "unblustery rapping developed the form beyond the flat-footed rhythms of schoolyard rhymes". While many rappers developed their technique through improvisation, Rakim was one of the first to demonstrate advantages of a writerly style, as with for instance his pioneering use of internal rhymes and multisyllabic rhymes Unlike previous rappers such as LL Cool J, KRS-One, and Run-D.M.C., who delivered their vocals with high energy, Rakim employed a relaxed, stoic delivery. According to MTV, "We'd been used to MCs like Run and DMC, Chuck D and KRS-One leaping on the mic shouting with energy and irreverence, but Rakim took a methodical approach to his microphone fiending. He had a slow flow, and every line was blunt, mesmeric." Rakim's relaxed delivery resulted from his jazz influences; he had played the saxophone and was a John Coltrane fan.The New York Times
Rakim's subject matter often covered his own rapping skills and lyrical superiority over other rappers.AllMusic editor Steve Huey comments that "the majority of his lyrics concern his own skills and his Islamic faith." He also notes Rakim for his "complex internal rhymes, compounding, literate imagery, velvet-smooth flow, and unpredictable, off-the-beat rhythms." Pitchfork writer Jess Harvell described his rapping as "authoritative, burnished, and possessing an unflappable sense of rhythm".
Paid in Full, which contains gritty, heavy, and dark beats,marked the beginning of heavy sampling in hip hop records. Of the album's ten tracks, three are instrumentals. As a disc jockey, Eric B. had reinstated the art of live turntable mixing. His soul-filled sampling became influential in future hip hop production. Music critic Robert Christgau noted that Eric B. had incorporated "touches of horn or whistle deep in the mix" of his sampled percussion and scratches.
Marlon Williams, better known by his stage name Marley Marl, is an American DJ, record producer, rapper and record label founder, primarily operating in hip hop music. Marlon grew up in Queensbridge housing projects located in Queens New York. He is credited with influencing a number of hip hop icons such as RZA, DJ Premier, and Pete Rock. He was also featured on Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid In Full" from their debut album which was also recorded in his studio. As a producer, one notable project was LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out. Marley Marl became interested in music, by performing in local talent shows, during the early days of rap music. He caught his big break in 1984, with artist Roxanne Shante's hit "Roxanne's Revenge". Marley Marl is also responsible for starting the hip hop collective Juice Crew alongside DJ Mr. Magic.
Rapping is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular", which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or musical accompaniment. The components of rap include "content", "flow", and "delivery". Rap differs from spoken-word poetry in that it is usually performed in time to musical accompaniment. Rap being a primary ingredient of hip hop music, it is commonly associated with that genre in particular; however, the origins of rap precede hip-hop culture. The earliest precursor to modern rap is the West African griot tradition, in which "oral historians", or "praise-singers", would disseminate oral traditions and genealogies, or use their rhetorical techniques for gossip or to "praise or critique individuals." Griot traditions connect to rap along a lineage of black verbal reverence, through James Brown interacting with the crowd and the band between songs, to Muhammad Ali's verbal taunts and the poems of The Last Poets. Therefore, rap lyrics and music are part of the "Black rhetorical continuum", and aim to reuse elements of past traditions while expanding upon them through "creative use of language and rhetorical styles and strategies". The person credited with originating the style of "delivering rhymes over extensive music", that would become known as rap, was Anthony "DJ Hollywood" Holloway from Harlem, New York.
The new school of hip hop was a movement in hip hop music starting 1983–84 with the early records of Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J. Like the hip hop preceding it, it came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco influenced outfits, novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of artists prevalent in 1984, and rendered them old school. New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream.
Nathaniel Thomas Wilson, better known by his stage name Kool G Rap, is an American rapper from Queens. He began his career in the mid-1980s as one half of the group Kool G Rap & DJ Polo and as a member of the Juice Crew. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time, and a pioneer of mafioso rap/street/hardcore content and multisyllabic rhyming. On his album The Giancana Story, he stated that the "G" in his name stands for "Giancana", but on other occasions he has stated that it stands for "Genius".
William Michael Griffin Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim, is an American rapper and record producer. One half of golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time.
Follow the Leader is the second studio album by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Following their debut album Paid in Full (1987), Eric B. & Rakim left 4th & B'way Records and signed with Uni Records, a subsidiary label of major label MCA Records. They recorded Follow the Leader at Power Play Studios in New York City. The duo produced, composed, and arranged the album with additional contributions from Rakim's brother Stevie Blass Griffin, who contributed with various instruments. Eric B. & Rakim worked with audio engineers Carlton Batts and Patrick Adams on the album. In a similar manner to their first album, a "ghost producer" was brought in for two songs. In a 2007 interview with Unkut.com, The 45 King said he produced both "Microphone Fiend" and "The R". "Microphone Fiend" was originally made for Fab 5 Freddy, until 45 King gave it over to Eric B., the group's "DJ".
Paid in Full is the debut album of American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on July 7, 1987, by Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The duo recorded the album at hip hop producer Marley Marl's home studio and Power Play Studios in New York City, following Rakim's response to Eric B.'s search for a rapper to complement his disc jockey work in 1985. The album peaked at number fifty-eight on the Billboard 200 chart and produced five singles: "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".
Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em is the third studio album by hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on June 19, 1990. The group's sound develops further, with Rakim adopting a deeper, more aggressive tone of voice, and more mature and serious subject matter. Musically, the production ranges from smoother soulful tracks such as "In the Ghetto" to the hard-edged assault of the title track "Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em."
Don't Sweat the Technique is the fourth and final studio album by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on June 23, 1992, by MCA Records. It was recorded and produced by Eric B. & Rakim at The Hit Factory in New York City. The album builds on the sounds of 1990's Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em, with Rakim sounding more aggressive on Eric B.'s jazzy, soulful production.
James Campbell, better known by his stage names Freddie Foxxx and Bumpy Knuckles, is an American rapper and music producer from Long Island, New York.
Golden age hip hop is a name given to mainstream hip hop music created from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, particularly by artists and musicians originating from the New York metropolitan area. An outgrowth of the new school hip hop movement, it is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence on hip hop after the genre's emergence and establishment in the old school era, and is associated with the development and eventual mainstream success of hip hop. There were various types of subject matter, while the music was experimental and the sampling from old records was eclectic.
Wanted: Dead or Alive is the second album by the hip hop duo Kool G Rap & DJ Polo. The album was released a year after the duo's debut, Road to the Riches, and received greater acclaim from most music critics. The singles "Streets of New York" and "Erase Racism" received notable airplay on Yo! MTV Raps and the former is credited by Nas as being influential on his song "N.Y. State of Mind" from his critically acclaimed album Illmatic.
Road to the Riches is the debut album by hip hop duo Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, which was released in 1989 on then-prominent hip hop label Cold Chillin' Records. The album is notable in that it set off the mafioso rap trend with the title track "Road to the Riches," which received strong rotation on the TV show Yo! MTV Raps, and was later featured on the old-school hip hop radio station Playback FM from the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Most of the songs, however, are not crime-related. Other popular songs included "It's a Demo" and "Poison." In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums.
Domingo Padilla, better known as Domingo, is an American hip hop producer from Brooklyn, New York of Latino descent. He has produced for some well-known hip hop artists such as Das EFX, Immortal Technique, and Rakim, among others. He is closely associated with Kool G Rap.
John Austin IV, better known by his stage name Ras Kass, is an American rapper. He returned as a member of the hip hop supergroup The HRSMN along with Canibus, Killah Priest, and Kurupt in 2014. Ras is a member of the group Golden State Warriors with Xzibit and Saafir. Editors of About.com ranked him #30 on their list of the Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007). Pitchfork Media called him "one of the best rappers of all time."
"Girls Around the World" is a song by American recording artist Lloyd. The song features rapper Lil Wayne and was written by Lloyd, along with Dwayne Carter, Eric Barrier, and William Griffin. The song was produced by his production team, Big Reese and Jasper Cameron, who also produced his breakthrough hit, "You", which also featured Lil Wayne. The song served as the lead single for Lloyd's third studio album Lessons in Love. "Girls Around the World" received positive to mixed reviews from critics, some of whom noted it as generic, and others named it as a top track from the album. It reached sixty-four on the Billboard Hot 100 and thirteen on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song samples "Paid in Full" by hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Lil Wayne's verse heavily reflects and interpolates Rakim's verse in "Paid in Full".
"I Ain't No Joke" is a song by rap duo Eric B. & Rakim, released as the second single from their debut studio album Paid in Full. It peaked at number thirty-eight on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. Described as one of the album's "monumental singles", Michael Di Bella wrote in the All Music Guide to Rock that "Rakim grabs the listener by the throat and illustrates his mastery of the rhyming craft". A music video was made for it, featuring dancing from Flavor Flav of the group Public Enemy. The song was selected by Jay-Z for the NBA 2K13 soundtrack. It was also featured in the video game Saints Row.
Lawrence "Kris" Parker, better known by his stage names KRS-One, and Teacha, is an American rapper and occasional producer from The Bronx, New York. He rose to prominence as part of the hip hop music group Boogie Down Productions, which he formed with DJ Scott La Rock in the mid-1980s. KRS-One is best known for his top hits, "Sound of da Police", "Love's Gonna Get'cha ", and "My Philosophy", among others. Boogie Down Productions received numerous awards and critical acclaim in their early years. Unfortunately, following the release of the group's debut album, Criminal Minded, fellow artist Scott La Rock was shot and killed, but KRS-One continued the group, effectively as a solo project. He began releasing records under his own name in 1993. He is politically active, having started the Stop the Violence Movement after Scott's death. He's also a vegan activist, expressed in songs such as "Beef". He is widely considered as an influence to many well known hip hop artists, such as 2Pac and Eminem just to name a few.
"Paid in Full" is a 1987 song by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Written and produced by group members Eric Barrier and Rakim Allah, the song was released as the fifth single from the duo's debut studio album Paid in Full. "Paid in Full" became one of the group's most successful singles, owing heavily to a popular remix of the song by English dance music duo Coldcut.
The discography of Eric B. & Rakim, an American hip hop duo, consists of four studio albums, five compilation albums, 15 singles, and nine music videos. Eric B. & Rakim formed and signed a record deal with Zakia Records in 1985. The following year, the duo signed a deal with 4th & B'way Records. Their debut album Paid in Full was released in 1987. In the United States, it peaked at number 58 on the Billboard 200, number 8 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It appeared on the Dutch, New Zealand, and UK Albums Chart. Paid in Full produced five singles, four of which appeared on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The fifth single "Paid in Full" (1988) peaked in the top five of the Dutch and New Zealand Singles Chart.
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