Rakim: The MC Reveals His ‘Seventh Seal’

23Nov09

If the bards of 20th century hip-hop are ever immortalized in an anthology, there’s a good chance that Rakim will sit atop that list.

He was a teenager when he started working with DJ Eric B in the 1980s. As Eric B & Rakim, he was a part of arguably the most influential rap duo in history, with Eric B sampling and mixing, Rakim as the MC.

“I think what I was trying to do was incorporate my musical influence,” Rakim tells host Guy Raz. “I came up in a household [with] a lot of different music: my mom playing jazz to R&B, soul; my brothers and sisters with the Earth, Wind & Fire to Michael Jackson. So I was trying to incorporate different rhythms in my rhymes. And it kind of worked out good, you know?”

Many say Rakim is the greatest rapper of all time. He is credited with pioneering the technique of internal rhyming in rap music — which he started as a teen.

“At the time, I didn’t know it was going to be this different,” he says. “You know what I mean? But I was shooting for something different. Like, some of my influence was John Coltrane — I played the sax, as well. So listening to him play and the different rhythms that he had: I was trying to write my rhymes as if I was a saxophone player.”

But for a rapper so often cited by the biggest names in hip-hop today — Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, 50 Cent — Rakim is comparatively obscure, a quiet purist. Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, he has released a solo album, called The Seventh Seal. Read more.

Courtesy of NPR

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