Rakim: A Hip-Hop Hero's Third Act

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[Rakim's "Guess Who's Back"]

Rakim’s influence is all over contemporary hip hop (and beyond it), from Tupac and Jay-Z to Eminem and Rage Against the Machine. He releases his third solo album, “The Seventh Seal,” today – his first solo album in nine years. Morehouse College professor David Wall Rice talks with us about why Rakim is so respected in hip-hop circles, and why he's relatively unknown outside hip-hop despite his wide-ranging influence.


David Wall Rice

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [8]

Frank Jackson III

Save for completely inventing the genre, Rakim is responsible for hip-hop as we know it today. Before him, hip-hop was largely party music reminiscent of disco, with elementary lyrics interspersed between break beats. Rakim added a complexity that has allowed hip-hop to grow exponentially.

True enough, Rakim has remained largely invisible throughout the last decade. However, this is largely by choice, and despite this physical lack of presence, Rakim has permeated the fabric of hip-hop as he is quoted in hooks, snippets, and even entire verses (as per Lil' Wayne's verse on Lloyd's "Girls All Around the World," the entirety of which was borrowed from Rakim's verse on "Paid in Full").

Rakim's return to the public sphere is a breath of fresh air to all fans of hip-hop, and should serve as a history lesson to all those unfamiliar with his genius. And whether or not the God can be seen or heard, we always know he's there, as his presence will never fade from the spirit of the art.

Nov. 25 2009 06:59 PM
Gregory Davis

I am not a student of hip-hop myself, but I definitely see the import that Rakim has brought to the world as a whole. For the past two decades, pioneers like him have kept hip-hop from taking that last dying breath and letting way to "hop-pop". By having an authentic, unadulterated voice still be with us after all these years is a revelation to those of us who see past the clubs and the money and see hip-hop as the artform of the last 50 years, the true scion of jazz. And the music's not that bad either.

Nov. 24 2009 01:35 AM
Jason M. Jones

I am glad to see the long anticipated return of Rakim. Today's hip hop lyricism has spurred away from the complex nature that we are accustomed to hearing through Rakim's lyrical craftsmanship. Through his elaborate metaphors of multiple meanings and his primary use of internal rhyming, Rakim has easily been recognized as one of the greatest MC's of all time. It is important we recognize the contributions and influence Rakim has had on today's artist. Artist such as Eminem, Raekwon, Tupac, Kurupt, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z have all paid tribute to Rakim through there music. Whether today's rap listeners recognize his contribution or not, he will always be respected as one of the greats. Welcome back Rakim.

Nov. 23 2009 10:42 PM
Jacque-Corey C.

I know personally I have heard of Rakim but did not look into his music until recently. I think it is important that younger people who claim to be hip-hop heads, or even advent listeners, are knowledgeable of legends that continue to create music. Whether or not younger listeners enjoy the lyrical insight of Rakim over the superficial references of more colorful artists is not as important as their recognition of Rakim's innovation and influence on popular artists from Andre 3000 to Gym Class Heroes.

Nov. 23 2009 02:57 PM
Kent of Detroit

I beg to differ from the last comment.
Essentially, Hip-Hop has provided a statement or report of the current times; mainly of those it is happening to in the community of the speaker.
Hip-Hop as a genre has evolved over the years and its current state of being is NOT indicative of where it has come from. Hip-Hop is ONLY popular outside of its core audience because record executives found it to be financially lucrative. Like any unregulated business, those that stand to profit the greatest will do anything to exploit interest in their product and they will take ANYONE who is willing to be led. So while there some that do fantasize about some of the lyrics, it isn’t just about white people! ;-\

The Hip-Hop genre is gone…
intro Hip-Pop!
(It is meant to sound sucky!)

Nov. 18 2009 09:31 AM

Incredible segment today on Rakim. It brought a smile to my face during a terrible commute to work. I got to work before the segment ended so I just sat in the parking lot and listened until the very end. It was striking to see the passion Celeste had for his music. Professor Rice did a fantastic job. I'm a Celeste fan forever now.

Nov. 17 2009 09:31 PM
Andrea J Corbett

This is one of the reasons I enjoy "The Takeaway"... I get to hear such a wide variety of interesting topics. I love Rakim and completely appreciate someone showcasing him and his contribution to Hip Hop and the other artists.

Nov. 17 2009 10:03 AM

This is noise and only popular because whites enjoy the vicarious experience.

Would the host let his kids speak like an illiterate

Nov. 17 2009 09:58 AM

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