Rakim and Eric B are a legendary rap duo emerging on the New York hip hop scene in the mid-1980s. Before long, they were at the top of the charts, and many cite Rakim as the first MC to break out of the rigid mould that hip hop had with regard to rhyme schemes.
Rakim is said to be a lyrical pioneer, and when this track was released, it changed the course of lyricism in hip hop. Rakim was most definitely the first MC to break the mould of the basic rhyme scheme of hip hop in which everyone had to rhyme the last word of every sentence. With Rakim, it was more complex. The schemes intertwined different rhymes, and the rhyming sat in the pockets of the offbeat.
Not only that, but the songs he released were catchy, with amazing production matching the fantastic and ground-breaking lyricism he and Eric B brought to the table. They were undeniably talented. However, the duo didn’t keep the top spot in the culture for long, although they did totally change the way people wrote lyrics.
The duo’s 1987 single ‘Paid In Full’ was one of their most successful singles and was undoubtedly the one that put them on the map, but by 1992 when they released ‘Know The Ledge’, hip hop’s eyes were firmly on the Death Row, Bad Boy and Wu-Tang. So what went wrong and was there a feud?
The short answer is yes, and while speaking with American arts and culture bastion, NPR, Rakim explained the situation regarding the fallout. The rapper explained how at first, “everything was kind of organic, man, for me and Eric B. to do what we did.” Highlighting how young they were when the two set out in the game, the rapper disclosed, “I was 17 … I was so young it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to approach hip-hop and let the people know how I wanted to get down.”
However, it was in 1992 when everything changed, and it was to do with a proposed three-album project that would see them to the end of their contracts. Explaining it, Rakim detailed, “He said … if he’d do a solo joint, I’d do a solo joint, then we get together and do the last joint. Then our contracts would be up, we could negotiate new contracts. I signed off, and when it was time for me to do mine, he didn’t want to sign off. So that caused a lot of problems.”
The New York rapper proceeded to conclude by revealing, “That caused the breakup of Eric B. and Rakim. Again, man, it was business. He felt that if he would have signed for some reason, I wasn’t going to sign back to the last album. He felt I was going to cut him out for some reason.”
As short as their run was, the duo undoubtedly changed hip hop for the rest of time with their lyricism. You can hear their debut single ‘Paid In Full’ in the video below.