Eric B & Rakim released their second studio album “Follow The Leader” on July 26, 1988. The album credits were originally given to Eric B & Rakim alone but we later found out that The 45 King produced 2 important tracks off this album.
Listening to a Rakim album means that you need to take this rap shit seriously! Only a handful of rappers get this serious but with all fairness, Chuck D never had rhymes like these! He forces you to listen and there are times when the rhyme makes you think and say, “Ahh shit, he flipped it on me! Damn!!!” Few rapper in the early 80’s did that, so there is the reason that Rakim is crowned the God MC!
The album starts with the title track that was the first ever “Yo! MTV Raps” video played on MTV. The track uses the “Nautilus” (once again) sample that sounds perfect as Rakim spits bars that would kill anything off their first album. The man goes for the jugular with rhymes like these:
Follow me into a solo
Get in the flow – and you can picture like a photo
Music mixed mellow maintains to make
Melodies for MC’s motivates the breaks
I’m everlastin, I can go on for days and days
With rhyme displays that engrave deep as X-rays
I can take a phrase that’s rarely heard, FLIP IT
Now it’s a daily word
I can get iller than ‘Nam, a killin bomb
But no alarm – Rakim will remain calm
Self-esteem make me super superb and supreme
But for a microphone still I fiend
This was a tape I wasn’t supposed to break
I was supposed to wait, but let’s motivate
I want to see who can keep followin and swallowin
Takin the making, bitin it and borrowin
Brothers tried and others died to get the formula
But I’ma let ya sweat – you still ain’t warm
You a step away from frozen, stiff as if ya posin
Dig into my brain as the rhyme gets chosen
So follow me and were ya thinkin’ you were first?
Let’s travel at magnificent speeds around the Universe
What could ya say as the Earth gets further and further away
Planets are small as balls of clay
Astray into the Milky Way – world’s outasight
Far as the eye can see – not even a satellite
Now stop and turn around and look
As ya stare in the darkness, ya knowledge is took!
So keep starin soon ya suddenly see a star
You better follow it cause it’s the R
This is a lesson if ya guessin and if ya borrowin
Hurry hurry step right up and keep followin
It only gets better from there! We next get the dope “Microphone Fiend” that samples The Average White Band’s “School Boy Crush” and is so dope it doesn’t even need a chorus or bridge, just bars!!!
After 12, I’m worse that a Gremlin
Feed me Hip-hop and I start trembling
The thrill of suspense is intense, your horrified
But this ain’t the cinemas of “Tales From the Darkside”,
By any means neccesary, this is what has to be done
Make way ’cause here I come….
My DJ cuts material….
It’s a must that I bust any mic you’re hand to me,
It’s inherited, it’s runs in the family
I wrote the rhyme that broke the bull’s back,
If that don’t slow ’em up, I carry a full pack.
Whenever you heard a Rakim track, you knew the man was serious 100% of the time and there was no goofing around. It was serious music for the serious Hip Hop listener. That’s exactly what we get when you mix “Funky Drummer” “No Head, No Backstage Pass” and Rakim’s cut-throat lyrics! This gem hits hard and makes you want to break windows! Rakim runs out of oxygen but somehow survives with rhymes like these:
For those that oppose to be level or next to this…
I ain’t a devil and this ain’t the Exorcist!
worse than a nightmare, you don’t have to sleep a wink,
the pain’s a migraine every time ya think,
Flashbacks interfere, ya start to hear:
The R-A-K-I-M in your ear;
Then the beat is hysterical,
that makes Eric go get a ax and chops the wack,
soon the lyrical format is superior,
faces of death remain,
MC’s decaying, cuz they never stayed,
the scene of a crime every night at the show,
the fiend of a rhyme on the mic that you know,
It’s only one capable, breaks-the unbreakable,
a horn if want the style I posses,
I bless the child, the earth, the gods and bomb the rest,
for those that envy a MC it can be,
hazardous to your health so be friendly,
a matter of life and death, just like a ethch-a-sketch,
shake ’till your clear, make it disappear, make the next,
after the ceremony, let the rhyme rest in peace,
if not, my soul’ll release!
the scene is recreated, reincarnated, updated, I’m glad you made it,
cuz your about to see a disasterous sight,
a performance never again performed on a mic:
Lyrics of fury!
Lastly, Rakim slows it down on “The R” as he raps over a dope “Rock Creek Park” by The Blackbyrds, sample. But just because he’s not spittin’ rapid fire rhymes doesn’t mean he’s not murdering the mic!
Whoever underestimated, still waited
Pumping the radio, finally they played it
You wondered how come the album was late
I was giving you time to get the last one straight,
The show must go on, I got something to dance to
Slow it down and romance to and give me a chance to
Keep you in tune and up to par…..
Then you’re doing it with the R…
Doing it wit the R….
Something new and to keep you doing what’cha doing
This is for you and your crew and for who in
The vicinity, I don’t need no identity
I see hands in the air that means many be
Cooperating, I can’t stop relating
Hip-hop is making more sense when I’m stating
Paragraphs of potential to prevent you
From using my instrumental, keep in mind I meant to
Illustrate another iller break immediately
Hurry up and learn the words and repeat it wit me
Then soon you’re in tune and up to par
And then you’re doing it wit the R…
Keep doing it, you keep doing it wit the R….
In the Summertime, pockets bulging
Somethings’s happening then I’m indulging
Music is mine, Gucci seats reclined,
Gold grill, a paint job will shine..
Pull up in the park and then pop the trunk
Turn up the bass and let the system thump
A block party starts to form, people start to swarm
Loud as a ghetto blaster, word is bond
Records remind you of a madness
The moment it’s played, you get gladdest
The return of the brother, keeping you up to par
And you’re doing it wit the R…..
I still remember buying this cassette, playing it on my Walkman, and hiding it from the school police, because without my PE, Ice T, N.W.A, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim tapes, I would’ve been so angry, who knows what I would’ve done! But before I incriminate myself, I just would like to take a time out and say, we salute you Eric B & Rakim! You guys put intelligence and fire in the game! No doubt!!!
BTW…the 2 tracks produced by The 45 King were “Microphone Fiend” and “The R”.