November 27, 2019

Rakim "The Master" (Billboard Magazine, 11/27/99)

"THE MASTER IS BACK: Respected rap veteran Rakim has a sound that transcends time. In fact, on his new Universal album, Rakim sounds as vital and current as he did over a decade ago on such Eric B. & Rakim classics as "Paid In Full" and "Follow The Leader." The Master -- his sophomore solo album -- arrives in stores Nov. 30. "When I Be On The Mic," produced by DJ Premier, is the lead single. It is being commercially released on 12-inch on Dec. 14. "I had a little more fun doing this album," says Rakim. "I stay in the street and try to keep an ear out for what's going on as far as my lyrical content. The main thing is knowing what not to do and say and what people are not feelin'."

"Rakim cites MCs who contradict themselves as the greatest offense to listeners. "I try to say true to myself and stay on one page," he says. "I haven't changed. [My audience] respects me as an artist because -- and I hate to use this expression -- I kept it real. And I keep it proper as far as my lyrical content and the way I present myself." As one of hip-hop's pioneers, Rakim is proud of the culture's growth. "When I think about how far hip-hop has come, I sit back and smile," he says. "DJs have taken their skills to the next level. Rappers are bringing more styles to the table, and the lyrics are wittier. We used to use R&B tracks for hip-hop; now R&B singers are using hip-hop tracks. We went through a lot of people turning us down, calling it hoodlum music. But when you look at television now, everybody is rapping." - Billboard Magazine, November 27, 1999. Listen HERE.