Thursday, November 8, 2007

No. 227: Paid In Full

Band: Eric B. & Rakim
Album: Paid in Full
Why Rolling Stone gets it right:
Mostly forgotten by modern hip hop fans, Eric B. & Rakim basically invented the rap style used by most modern rappers. In lieu of the ridiculous chant/call and response type rapping that Run-D.M.C was doing, Rakim used a rhythmic style, utilizing internal rhymes and similes.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: As much as the Eric B's use of old R&B (James Brown was a big one) samples in his production, the record sounds a little dated. The sound isn't particularly full and the non-braggadocio/gangsta lyrics are also a little old-sounding.
Best song: “I Know You Got Soul” is great, as is the title track.
Worst song: "Move the Crowd" is typical old school boring party rap.
Is it awesome?: It sounds old, but it's pretty awesome.

I bet if you asked most hip hop fans to name the most important rap artists of all time, Eric B & Rakim probably wouldn't end up in the top 10. They should be. Before them, rappers were more like the Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C., where the rappers used a call and response style. Moreover, they were mostly easy iambic pentameter raps that looked something like this:


The rhyming schemes were pretty well templated; They were the kind of things you and I could've probably written.

Rakim was something of a revolutionary in that he penned many internal rhymes, interesting metaphors and introspective lines that can sound interesting even today.

For those of us who know modern hip hop, the song “I Know You Got Soul” is where the influence comes in. As hip hop is so post-modern, the song's lines are familiar. The first line was used in the famous Aaliyah song “Are You That Somebody” while Mos Def used an internal line as his main line in “Love.” (“I start to think and then I sink/Into the paper like I was ink/When I'm writing, I'm trapped in between the lines,/I escape when I finish the rhyme”)

The rhythm of “I Know You Got Soul” is repetitive and boring, as it doesn't change for the boring chorus, but the actual verse lyrics are fascinating and great. Rakim hits on the normal themes (yes, of course, the song's title and theme are that he has soul) but also his writing style (the line Mos Def references) and even his all-encompassing ove for people all over New York.

“Paid In Full” is a wildly influential album that probably forgotten by most. That's a shame.

No comments: