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Rakim is a legendary American MC and pioneer of the musical genre of hip hop. A nephew of American R&B singer, and actress Ruth Brown, Rakim was born to William Michael Griffin Jr. on January 28, 1968 in Wyandanch, Long Island, New York.
He developed much of his rhyming talent and became involved in the New York hip hop scene at a young age. When Rakim turned 16, he joined The Nation of Gods and Earths and changed his name to Rakim Allah. Eric B brought him to Marley Marls house to record Eric B. is President.
In 1986, Rakim started to work with New York-based producer-DJ Eric B. Due in no small part to Rakims technical abilities, the duo, known as Eric B & Rakim, is widely regarded as among the most influential and groundbreaking of hip-hop groups.
Rakim pioneered a practice called internal rhyming which was previously unknown to hip-hop. Rakim and Eric Dsfirst single Eric B Is President reached at number 48. My Melody also became a success and got the duo a contract with the fledgling Island Records sub-label 4th & B'way.
The duos next single, the smash I Know You Got Soul, sparked early debate on the legality of unauthorized and uncredited sampling. James Brown sued to prevent the duo's use of a fragment of his music. After a long hiatus, the duo came up with their debut album, entitled Paid in Full, in 1987. The album caused a stir in the hip-hop music world for featuring novel sound, approach, and subject matter. Eric B. & Rakim parted their ways in 1992 after releasing 3 more albums.
Together with Eric D, Hakim released 4 albums which were Paid in Full, Follow The Leader, Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em, and Don't Sweat The Technique. These albums are now considered Hip Hop standards. Afte releaseing Paid In Full, Rakim got engaged in a lawsuit with reggaeton performer R.K.M (formerly Rakim) over the use of the name Rakim.
He won the rights to the name. For the following five years, Rakim could not release his any solo album due to legal wrangling over royalties and his contracts with both his record label and with Eric B. Rakim signed with his good friend at the time DeShamus Q=BOB Sallis of Q=BOB Records. The label, however, folded shortly afterward and he returned in 1997 with The 18th Letter.
The 18th Letter included collaborations with DJ Premier and Pete Rock. These were released in two versions, one of which included an Eric B. & Rakim greatest hits disc titled The Book of Life. The critical reception of Hakims The Book of Life was positive, and it was certified gold. Rakim came up with The Master in 1999.
This album too received very good reviews as well. After releasing two albums, he was signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment record label the following year. He began recording for his forthcoming album, tentatively called Oh, My God. The record followed numerous changes in artistic direction and personnel and was delayed several times.
In the meantime, Rakim also made guest appearances on numerous Aftermath projects, including the hit single Addictive by Truth Hurts, the Dr. Dre-produced The Watcher Part 2 by Jay-Z, and Eminem's 8 Mile soundtrack. In 2003, Rakim left Aftermath Entertainment label and as a result of creative differences with Dre, his album Oh, My God was indefinitely shelved.
Rakim signed with DreamWorks Records shortly afterward. He then began working on a new album in 2004 but as of 2007, it has not been released. Rumors surrounded that he was planning to sign with Talib Kweli's label, fueled by their collaboration on the track Getting Up Anthem Part 1. Rakims next album titled The Seventh Seal was based on the passage in the Book of Revelation. The album was an effort to making his music relevant to hip hop and life itself.
In support of the album The Seventh Seal, Rakim set out on a tour. While performing at the Showbox, in Seattle, Washington, on November 4, 2007, he announced that he is going to release The Seventh Seal on February 7 next year.
Ruth Browns nephew, Rakim also made cameos in the Juelz Santana video Mic Check, the Timbaland & Magoo video Cop that Disc, and the Busta Rhymes video New York Shit. Rakim and Eric B's classic album Paid In Full was declared the greatest hip-hop album of all time by MTV.
Rakim was also featured in an All-Pro Football 2K8 commercial. Rakim later did a collaboration album with KRS-One called The Greatest Featuring The God MC and Kris Parker.
Prior to Rakim, hip-hop music lyricism was usually rather simple from a structural standpoint. Also, the ideas the then hip-hop music lyricism expressed were easy and direct. Today, many hip-hop artists, both underground and mainstream, acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style.
Rakim is given credit for popularizing the heavy use of internal rhymes in hip-hop rhymes that are not necessary to the overall rhyme scheme of the verse.
The internal rhymes, however, occur between the endpoints of lines and stanzas, serving to increase the alliteration, assonance, and emphasis of the rhyme. Rakim is also credited for the jazzy, heavily stylistic, seemingly effortless delivery of his lyrical content.