Rakim – “The 18th Letter” Album Anniversary

Rakim – “The 18th Letter” Album Anniversary

On November 4th 1997, Rakim released his first solo project, “The 18th Letter”.  This was his first album without his DJ Eric B.  The album was certified Gold and reached as high as #4 on the Billboard Album Charts. There was also a deluxe version of the cd that included a greatest hits album.

“The 18th Letter” starts where the last album stopped off (Don’t Sweat The Technique).  The album starts off with the title track welcoming everyone back to Rakim Allah’s world!  He reminds us how mundane the rap world is with,

“Just when things seemed the same, and the whole scene is lame
I come and reign with the unexplained for the brains ’til things change
They strain to sling slang, I’m trained to bring game
History that I arranged been regained by King James”

He then does it again with the bangin Premier produced track “Its Been A Long Time” where he claims,

“Follow procedures, the crowd couldn’t wait to see this
Nobody been this long awaited since Jesus
Who wouldn’t believe this – I heard the word on the street is
I’m still one of the deepest on the mic since Adidas”

Premier also lends a hand on “New York” and fellow NY producer also contributes with “When I’m Flowing” and the mega hit, “The Saga Begins”.  The song has an eerie backdrop beat that makes you pay attention when Rakim says,

“The names have changed the game remain the same
How one came to reign on his claim to fame
No stoppin this I’m droppin this with hip-hop in this
And when the topic is topicless, then I’m writing the apocalypse”

But the one songs that makes us go back to 1988 is “Guess Who’s Back” where Rakim reminds us of how things have changed yet are still the same.  The Clark Kent beat (Bob James sample of Shamboozie) gives us that 88 feeling and blends perfectly with Rakims rhymes when he reminds us of his greatest hits when he spits,

“Mastered this, flash this and make em clap to this
DJ’s throw on cuts and obey the crowd
Just pump the volume up, and play it loud
Hip-Hop’s embedded, before I said I wouldn’t let it
But me and the microphone is still magnetic”

The album also comes in a deluxe version that gives us a greatest hits side with 15 cuts from “Move The Crowd” to “The Punisher”.  The album was well received and gave us back something he thought we had lost.  Definitely a classic record!


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