If you’re known in hip hop circles as “God MC”, then you know you’re special. Only a chosen few can be named amongst the elite group of hip hop forefathers and Rakim just happens to be one of them. With a career that spans more than 25 years, Ra’s musical DNA is in just about every one of today’s rap stars. BET caught up with some of hip hop’s most influential lyricists to share their earliest memory of The R.
“The first time I heard Rakim, I was in junior high school. The song was ‘Eric B for President.’ It was a song my older brother Dre [Dr. Dre] use to mix when he was on K Day. From that day on I became a fan and it inspired me and my best friend Snoop [Dogg] to try and become a rap duo. He was Rakim and I was Eric B. From there we did a demo and sent it to the manager, who was Kara Lewis, but we never got a response. But we still loved his sound and how lyrically dope he was and to this day we’re still fans of him.”
“The first time I heard Rakim, it was like the summer of 1986, ‘Check Out My Melody.’ I’ve been in love with that song ever since. Rakim has so many great songs, but that’s the one for me.”
“The first song I ever heard by Rakim was ‘Eric B for President’ on a mixtape I got from New York in like ’88. I fell in love with Rakim’s slow flow immediately! He had very intricate word play for his era and definitely gave me great hip hop lessons in the form of songs like ‘Mahogany’ and ‘Check Out My Melody.’”
“The first time I heard Rakim, I realized that you could be more than just cool as an MC. You could be a poet, a scientist, a historian or a minister, all within the realm of hip hop.”
“I was wild young and I heard ‘Paid in Full’… but when he did the ‘Know the Ledge’ from the movie Juice, I was going crazy…”
“['Eric B for President']. I was coming out of the store and my man had the gold box radio, and it sounded so chunky. He’s a genuis. He’s a wizard, B.”
“I been hearing him forever, all my life. He’s a monster still to this day. The R is hard body and he sounds just like the records.”
“First time I heard Rakim was ‘Paid In Full’… ‘I used to be a stick up kid’ was my favorite line [laughs].”
Previous winners of the award include Grandmaster Flash (2006); KRS-One (2007); Russell Simmons (2008); Ice Cube (2009); Salt N Pepa (2010) and LL Cool J (2011).