Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full Anniversary

Eric B. and Rakim released their debut album “Paid In Full” on 4th & B’way Records back on July 7, 1987.  The album was produced by Eric B. & Rakim and is regarded as one of the greatest Hip Hop albums of all time!

You know a “game-changer” as soon as you hear it the first time, and Rakim’s voice and rhymes where just that!  This is one of those albums that as soon as you pop in the cassette or cd, you just let it play until it ends and let it repeat itself.

One of the greatest and groundbreaking singles were “Eric B. Is President” and “My Melody” as the B-side!  These two tracks gave us a small glimpse of what would change Hip Hop forever!

“Eric B Is President” takes the drum pattern of “Impeach the President” and the first 10 seconds of Mountain’sLong Red” and makes one of the greatest beats for Rakim to showcase his verbal genius for the first time.  Now, the album has the Marley Marl remix, which makes you wish they had included the original on the album.  Rakim creates one of the greatest opening lines with,

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

As for the B-side, again, if they would’ve included the original version in stead of the Marley Marl remix, the album would’ve been that much better!  “My Melody” borrows the beat from “Rising to the Top” and injects a funky western whistle that will have you mimicking it all day long!  His mathematics add up and make it in the lyrics hall of fame with,

I take 7 MC’s put ’em in a line
And add 7 more brothas who think they can rhyme
Well, it’ll take 7 more before I go for mine
Now that’s 21 MC’s ate up at the same time
Easy does it, do it easy, that’s what I’m doin’
No fessin’, no messin’ around, no chewin’
No robbin’, no buyin’, bitin’, why bother
This slob’ll stop tryin’, fightin’ to follow
My unusual style will confuse you a while
And if I was water, I’d flow in the Nile
So many rhymes you won’t have time to go for yours
Just because of applause I have to pause
Right after tonight is when I prepare
To catch another sucka duck MC out there
‘Cause my strategy has to be tragedy, catastrophe
And after this you’ll call me your majesty
My melody


The album starts nicely with “I Aint No Joke” where they sample the The JB’sPass The Peas” to perfection while Eric B. cuts it up nicely.  Rakim wastes no words,

I ain’t no joke, I use to let the mic smoke
Now I slam it when I’m done and make sure it’s broke
When i’m gone no one gets on cuz I won’t let
Nobody press up and mess up the seen I set
I like to stand in a crowd and watch the people wonder damn
But think about it then you’ll understand
I’m just an addict addicted to music
Maybe it’s a habit, I gotta use it
Even if it’s jazz or the quiet storm
I hook a beat up convert it into hip-hop form
Write a rhyme in graffitti in every show you see me in
Deep concentration, cuz I’m no comedian
Jokers are wild if you wanna be tamed
I treat you like a child then you’re gonna be named
Another enemy, not even a friend of me
Cuz you’ll get fried in the end when you pretend to be
Competin’ cuz I just put your mind on pause
and I complete when – you compare my rhyme wit yours
I wake you up and as I stare in your face you seem stunned
Remember me, the one you got your idea from
But soon you start to suffer, the tune’ll get rougher
When you start to stutter that’s when you had enuff of
Biting, it’ll make you choke, you can’t provoke
You can’t cope, you should’ve broke because I ain’t no joke

The title track has only 24 bars, yet it fills you up with rhymes that are perfect and precise for the track.  “Paid in Full” takes the drum beat from “Ashley’s Roachclip” and the guitar riff from Dennis EdwardsDon’t Look Any Further” and makes it one of the most classic tracks in Hip Hop History!  Straight dope!

Thinkin’ of a master plan
‘Cuz ain’t nuthin’ but sweat inside my hand
So I dig into my pocket, all my money is spent
So I dig deeper but still comin’ up with lint
So I start my mission, leave my residence
Thinkin’ how could I get some dead presidents
I need money, I used to be a stick-up kid
So I think of all the devious things I did
I used to roll up, this is a hold up, ain’t nuthin’ funny
Stop smiling, be still, don’t nuthin’ move but the money
But now I learned to earn ‘cuz I’m righteous
I feel great, so maybe I might just
Search for a nine to five, if I strive
Then maybe I’ll stay alive
So I walk up the street whistlin’ this
Feelin’ out of place ‘cuz, man, do I miss
A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of
Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of
Fish, which is my favorite dish
But without no money it’s still a wish
‘Cuz I don’t like to dream about gettin’ paid
So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made
So now to test to see if I got pull
Hit the studio, ‘cuz I’m paid in full

Move The Crowd” is a slow paced track that reworks the bass groove from “Flight of the Newborn” by Return to Forever and a funky “Hot Pants Road” sample that brings us to a total of 5 classic tracks off this album.

Standing by the speaker suddenly I had this
Fever was it me or either summer madness
‘Cause I just can’t stand around so I get closer
And the closer I get the better it sound
My mind starts to activate rhymes collaborate
‘Cause when I heard the beat I just had to make
Something from the top of my head
So I fell into the groove of the wax and I said
“How could I move the crowd”
First of all, ain’t no mistakes allowed
Here’s the instruction, put it together
It simple ain’t it but quite clever
Some of you been trying to write rhymes for years
But weak ideas irritate my ears
Is this the best that you can make?
‘Cause if not and you got more, I’ll wait

My favorite Eric B. & Rakim track off all time is “I Know You Got Soul“.  Why?  1.  The beat is classic.  2.  The lyrics are dope as always coming from Rakim.  3. My can dance to it as well as kick back and chill with it!

The track samples Bobby Byrd’s track of the same name with the beat pattern of Funkadelic’sYou’ll Like It Too“.  Then Rakim makes you memorize every single word in this song with ease!

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you
Thinking of this, you keep repeating you miss
The rhymes from the microphone soloist
And you sit by the radio, hand on the dial, soon
As you hear it, pump up the volume
Dance wit the speaker ’till you hear it blow,
Then plug in the headphone ’cause here it go
It’s a 4 letter word when it’s heard, it control
your body to dance (You got it) soul,
Ditects the tempo like a red alert
Reaches your reflex, so let it work
When this is playing, you can’t get stuck wit
The steps, so get set and I’m a still come up wit
A gift to be swift, follow the leader, the rhyme will go
Def wit the record that was mixed a long time ago
It can be done but only I can do it
For those that can dance and clap your hands to it
I start to think and then I sink
Into the paper like I was ink
When I’m writing, I’m trapped in between the lines,
I escape when I finish the rhyme…
I got soul

This album is one of the most incredible albums of all time!  In 1986 I was 15 years old and when I heard their first single, I was sure that Hip Hop would last forever.  When the album dropped, it was in my Walkman for months.  Today, as soon as I pop in this CD, I start to rap with the songs and don’t stop until the CD or the car stops.  Even then, I’m rappin acapella!  We salute you Eric B. and Rakim on this anniversary and on changing the rap game forever!  Like Rakim would say, “PEACE!!!”

-Al E.


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