|Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full (1987)
I was tempted to do another underground alternative album from the ’80s, but the late ’80s are pretty much the only era of hip-hop that I really care about, so I figured I’d take a look at an album that’s nothing short of a golden age hip-hop classic. Now let me preface this by saying that my knowledge of hip-hop is pretty limited. Really there’s probably less than 10 hip-hop albums that I would say I truly love, and this along with it’s follow-up Follow The Leader has got to be one of them.
This debut from Eric B. and Rakim was recorded over the course of one week, with Rakim usually finishing his lyrics in about an hour after listening to the beats. Which is pretty amazing when the biggest thing about this album is how revolutionary Rakim’s lyrical approach was. Even a hip-hop novice like myself can recognize that Rakim brought an unprecidented amount of intricacy to his lyrics, pioneering the use of internal rhyme.
It’s weird to think that there was a time when the DJ was just as an important part of hip-hop music as the rapper was, and Eric B.’s scratching is just as much at the forefront of the album as Rakim’s rhymes. The beats are fairly simple, but are a perfect example of what characterized hip-hop’s golden age, with lots of heavy beats with a fair amount of sampling. Rhythmically it’s all pretty laid-back when you compare Paid In Full to contemporaries like Run DMC’s Raising Hell or Boogie Down Production’s Criminal Minded, but when you put Rakim’s commanding rhymes on top of it, it’s hard not to be drawn in.
Don’t let that cover fool you, I mean Eric B. & Rakim could never be accused of being soft, but they’re still the kind of hip-hop that people with extremely white taste in music like me should have no problem getting into. Sean, I know you probably won’t even read this, but if you’re serious about ever getting in to hip-hop, this ain’t a bad place to start.
Favorite Tracks: “I Ain’t No Joke”, “I Know You Got Soul”, “Paid In Full”