Rap needs its own hall of fame, if only to induct people like Rakim. Beginning with albums with DJ partner Eric B such as 1987 landmark Paid In Full, the former William Griffin Jr. (a devout Muslim since age 15) has used language the way John Coltrane and Charlie Parker used their swooping and diving saxophone riffs: to brag and boast, and blow your mind with his astounding agility and dexterity. This is the man who swore "I Ain't No Joke" on the first song of Paid In Full, later promised "I hold the microphone like a grudge," and has meant it ever since. Since splitting with Eric B following three more albums, Rakim has gone on to a successful if sporadic solo career, most recently with 2009's The Seventh Seal.


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