Watch the forgotten commercial for gold teeth Rakim was in
(Credit: Eric B & Rakim)

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Watch the forgotten commercial for gold teeth Rakim was in

Rakim is known as one of hip-hop’s lyrical pioneers. Emerging in the 1980s, Rakim, alongside his partner in crime Erb. B changed the landscape of the culture concerning lyricism and paved the way for the likes of Nas and Talib Kweli to prosper with complex and unique flows. Idolised for his 1987 album, Paid In Full, the rapper (real name William Griffin Jr.) advanced hip-hop by ignoring the prevalent cadences of early-’80s rap. 

Born and raised in Long Island, the iconic emcee prided himself on being more than a rapper and knew he had an unparalleled complex, evocative and structurally solid style. Rakim was confident in himself and his abilities. In 1987, when Paid In Full hit the shelves, Rakim sat down with Spin magazine to speak about his lyrics and even went as far as to say he’s not a rapper. Addressing the interviewer, Harry Allen, Griffin stated, “I’m not a rapper, I’m a lyricist! Rappin’ is something when you coolin’ out just poppin’ sh*t, you know whumsayin’? I take this more serious than just a poem. Tryin’ to make this art! Instead of people comin’ up to me and sayin’, ‘Oh you’re a rapper?’ I’d rather them come up to me and say, ‘Oh you are an artist?’ My music ain’t hip-hop! I call it knowledge, a lesson in music!”

It’s safe to say many did get a lesson in music from Griffin. His mere presence was a turning point in hip-hop. The forward-thinking visionary rejected the de facto, basic nursery rhyme patterns for lyrics and rhyme schemes that were intricate and complex. Rakim not only brung flair but, most importantly, skill. However, Rakim wouldn’t have been held in such high regard if he had rapped over weak beats. Still, fortunately, he had Eric B. on hand for his legendary instrumentals. Showcasing an exceptional level of production, the duo’s debut album was a fascinating project concerning its composition.

The late-’80s was an excellent time for hip-hop and saw a cultural shift. Like other collectives such as Run-DMC and Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim had their unique look concerning fashion. The dynamic duo were known for their expensive jewellery and heavy-looking, chunky gold chains. The pair were so renowned for their look that in 2004, Rakim randomly appeared in a commercial for Gold Teeth USA. Released before social media existed, the advertisement was uploaded as a downloadable file, which made its rounds on the web. Strangely the clip still exists today and has been permanently uploaded to YouTube.

You can watch the commercial featuring the legendary Long Island lyricist in the video below.