Why Rakim and Dr Dre’s album never happened: “It was like night and day”
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Why Rakim and Dr Dre's album never happened: "It was like night and day"

Rakim is known as one of hip-hop’s lyrical pioneers. Emerging in the 1980s, Rakim, alongside his partner in crime Eric. 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. 

Following the release of his 1987 album, Paid In Full, Rakim (real name William Griffin Jr.) ascended to become a legend in hip-hop and began working with the best in the industry. However, although the emcee had an excellent experience collaborating with some artists, in an interview with Red Bull Music Academy, he admitted that he struggled in the studio with Dr Dre. 

Many know about the emcee’s label situation during the 1980s. However, few know that at the turn of the millennium, between 2000 and 2003, Rakim was signed to Dr Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment. Following his dormancy in the ’90s, Griffin Jr was keen to release a third solo album entitled, Oh My God and asked Dre for assistance with its production. 

Speaking with Red Bull’s veteran hip-hop journalist Jefferson “Chairman” Mao, Rakim spoke candidly about his time with Aftermath and the dud album. Opening up about his experience Griffin Jr explained, “As far as me and [Dr] Dre, once we got together, we realised how different we was. To try and get on the same page was more complicated than we thought.”

He continued, “A beat [would] come on, and we listenin’ to the beat. I’m already seein’ what I want to do. But then Dre might go, ‘Yo, I want you to do such and such, and such and such on there.’ I’m like, ‘Come on, Dre. Been there, did that already, nahmean?’ Realizing that it was like night and day.”

However, Rakim quickly realised that Dre was working on Xzibit’s album and Eminem’s project and thus may not have time for his. After letting it play out, the Paid In Full musician realised it the two were musically incompatible, disclosing, “Every time a beat came on, [the same debate happened]. “he wanted me to set it off and brag about who I was and what I did. At that point, I felt like they already knew. To brag about it, it’d take points off the board with what I did and what I’m doin’.”

Rakim admitted that working with Dre made him appreciate Eric B more as he didn’t try to creatively guide him, revealing, “The thing about Eric B.—Eric was more…I’d say I wanted to do or do that, and he’d say, ‘G’head!’ That was one thing that was cool about Eric B.; he never tried to detour my thought or tell me what I should be sayin’ on a record. He left that totally up to me.”

Although it would have been an amazing project to hear, the two artists mutually came to the decision that, Oh My God wouldn’t be of quality if there wasn’t a musical consensus and so decided to shelf the album. You can watch the full Red Music Academy interview with Rakim in the video below.