Eric B. & Rakim released their debut single “Eric B is President” exactly 30 years ago this year! The track was produced by Eric B and Marley Marl and introduced the world to one of the greatest lyricists in Hip Hop History, Rakim Allah. The single was also the intro to one of the greatest albums in Hip Hop History, “Paid in Full“.
Being that today is election day and we honestly have to choose between two candidates that the majority of Hip Hop Heads have no love for, we can always reminisce all the way back to 1986 when things were much funkier and doper. In 1986 Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States, but to us Hip Hop junkies, Eric B. was president. Notice how it wasn’t Rakim for president but his DJ Eric B. This was a time when the DJ was the backbone of the group. If we said AJ Scratch, you would say Kurtis Blow. If we said Jam Master Jay, you would say Run DMC. If we said Terminator X, you would say Public Enemy. You get the idea! So on this election day, we salute one of the greatest groups in Hip Hop history and one of the tracks that changed the rap game forever.
On “Don’t Sweat The Technique” Rakim says, “I made my debut in 86, with a Melody and a President’s mix“, and that’s where we are going to start! The track samples the baseline from Fonda Rae’s “Over Like a Fat Rat” and it blends perfectly right under Rakim’s poetic lyricism. Just the first verse let’s you know that Rakim is opening the door and letting a new breed of MC’s usher in, but none greater than him. Don’t misunderstand arrogance for confidence either. When he says, “It ain’t the everyday style or the same old rhyme/Cause I’m better than the rest of them” he means it and can back it up! The man knew he was a cut above the rest and proved it with this classic track. He changed the way MC’s write lyrics and how they are formatted to fit perfectly like a 1000 piece puzzle. Game changer? No doubt!!!
Eric B. then comes in after the 2:22 mark to cut it up nicely until the beat stops! The track is 4 minutes and 48 seconds long so it gives equal time for both MC and DJ to represent.
A lot has been said about the Marley Marl remix and how horrible it is. The reality is that Marley’s remix did not add anything new to the original cut, but it did take away from the perfection of the original version. “To show our appreciation for your support” and the “Make them clap to this” vocal samples were annoying and unnecessary. The backward beat adds nothing to the song and for whatever reason he removes Rakim’s line “I must have got you too hot and burned off your wings“. That’s inexplicable. The original should’ve been on the album as well as the remix as a bonus track. But what is done is done!
No matter what, when you cast your ballot today, don’t forget to cast your vote for Eric B. for President! He might not be on the bill but he’s surely in the mix! Rakim says, “PEACE”.
I came in the door, I said it before
I never let the mic magnetize me no more
But it’s biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme
I can’t hold it back, I’m looking for the line
Taking off my coat, clearing my throat
The rhyme will be kicking until I hit my last note
My mind remains refined, all kind of ideas
Self-esteem makes it seem like a thought took years to build
But still say a rhyme after the next one
Prepared, never scared, I’ll just bless one
And you know that I’m the soloist
So Eric B make ’em clap to this
I don’t bug out or chill or be acting ill
No tricks in ’86, it’s time to build
Eric be easy on the cut, no mistakes allowed
Cause to me, MC means “move the crowd”
I made it easy to dance to this
But can you detect what’s coming next from the flex of the wrist
Say indeed and I’ll proceed cause my man made a mix
If he bleed he won’t need no band-aid to fix
His fingertips sew a rhyme until there’s no rhymes left
I hurry up because the cut will make ’em bleed to death
But he’s kicking it cause it ain’t no half stepping
The party is live, the rhyme can’t be kept in-
Side, it needs erupting just like a volcano
It ain’t the everyday style or the same old rhyme
Cause I’m better than the rest of them
Eric B is on the cut and my name is Rakim
Go get a girl and get soft and warm
Don’t get excited, you’ve been invited to a quiet storm
But now it’s out of hand cause you told me you hate me
And then you ask what have I done lately
First you said all you want is love and affection
Let me be your angel and I’ll be your protection
Take you out, buy you all kinds of things
I must have got you too hot and burned off your wings
You caught an attitude, you need food to eat up
I’m scheming like I’m dreaming on a couch with my feet up
You scream I’m lazy, you must be crazy
Thought I was a donut, you tried to glaze me