by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
The Source Magazine billed him as “the greatest lyricist of all-time,” and, in the hip-hop world, you won’t find too many who would argue with that.
Rakim, the Long Island, N.Y., native, captivated the hip-hop world in two ways. He pioneered the use of compound rhyming by using words that have two or more syllables in one rhyme, which is evident in the legendary album “Paid in Full.” But Rakim also blessed the mic with lyrics of cognizant self-awareness, according to The Source, due to his roots with the Nation of Islam and involvement with the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths.
Rakim spoke at a Jan. 15 1 Hood Media event at the Andy Warhol Museum, where The God MC spoke to a crowd of more than 200 supporters.
He told a story that most in the crowd had never heard—as a youngster, Rakim used to tell his father how nervous he would get before he played football games. Rakim said he would feel “butterflies.” His father’s response? “It’s not nervousness, it’s consciousness.”
And Rakim said he’s taken that food for thought and kept it with him his entire career. Whether it’s what he called the “hard part,” writing the rhymes, or what he called the “fun part,” performing onstage, the nerves were no longer a factor because it was Rakim consciously realizing the prime opportunities that were before him.
As most hip-hop fans know, Rakim’s career skyrocketed, with legendary singles “Eric B. Is President,” “Paid In Full,” “Follow the Leader,” “I Ain’t No Joke,” “My Melody,” and “Move The Crowd.”
At the event, Rakim signed copies of his new book, “Sweat The Technique: Revelations on Creativity From the Lyrical Genius.”
1 Hood Media’s Jasiri X told the New Pittsburgh Courier his prime takeaway from the event was how Rakim was “intentional about putting consciousness into the music, and how we have the opportunity as artists to do that today.”
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: RAKIM, second from right, with Bakari Kitwana, Paradise Grey and Jasiri X, at 1 Hood Media’s event, “A Conversation with Rakim,” Jan. 15 at the Andy Warhol Museum. Photos by Courier photographer J.L. Martello)