Influential Hip Hop artist Rakim is coming to Cincinnati next month.
Rakim exploded onto the Rap scene in the mid-’80s with his partner Eric B. The duo's first single, "Eric B. is President," dropped in 1986, followed by their 1987 debut album, Paid in Full, a cornerstone Hip Hop classic that was included in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
Eric B. & Rakim's second single, "I Ain't No Joke":
Eric B. & Rakim released three more albums — 1988's Follow the Leader, 1990's Let the Rhythm Hit ’Em and 1992's Don't Sweat the Technique — before splitting up. In 2016, the pair — who were on the shortlist of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees in 2011 — reunited for a run of live dates.
Acclaimed for his lyricism and rhyming technique and cited by some all-time greats (including Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Nas and Jay-Z) as a prime influence, Rakim has released only a handful of solo albums outside of EB&R — the most recent was 2009's The Seventh Seal. Last year he published the book Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius, which is described as "part memoir, part writing guide," as he shares stories from his life while also exploring his own artistic approach in depth.
Rakim says Jazz music was a big influence on his musical style. Last year, Jonathan Hay, Mike Smith and Benny Reid flipped the script with a Jazz cover of Eric B. and Rakim's Follow the Leader album. The trio's instrumental reworking hit No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz album chart.
"I always view my voice as an instrument," Rakim told Billboard last year in an interview about the success of Hay, Smith and Reid's LP. "I choose the content of my words carefully to convey the message and story I want to get across, but I also pay attention to how the syllables, intonation and emphasis are an accompanying rhythm with the music I'm flowing over. How the words fill the spaces on the melodies and how you can push the boundaries a little… that all comes from studying jazz."
Last year, Rakim told Nashville Scene he'd be interested in exploring the Jazz realm more.
"Exploring (Jazz) further is interesting," he said of his future pursuits. "And I'd like to take some of my studio knowledge and make it accessible. I'm pretty sure I will still want to write and spit rhymes until the day I move on. I've got two very different but very solid album concepts I'm kicking around on days off right now, but here's a lot more to accomplish outside of the booth as well."