In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “For someone coming to it today, this album is a bit of a victim of its own success.”
Eric B & Rakim are one of those names I’ve always thought of as genre pioneers and definers. Releasing their first album 1987, they were definitely part of hip hop’s vanguard. Despite their legendary status, I was a little reluctant to actually listen to them. Sometimes, it’s hard to appreciate the work of pioneers and genre definers, because in the years since, others have been able to push the genre even further. What was new 30 years ago, can seem basic and corny now. So, three decades later, des Eric B & Rakim’s Paid in Full hold up against the generations of awesome hip hop it inspired?
The simple drum beats, thinned out samples and random record scratches kind of sound like a parody of early rap, but I guess that’s because these were the songs defining early rap. And even with the simplest of beats behind him, Rakim’s rhymes in I Aint No Joke make it sound as vibrant as anything made today. Which is not to take anything away from Eric B’s DJ and production work. Because Eric B is On the Cut is nothing but him, single handedly taking on the hip hop version of an instrumental, and killing it.
With Move the Crowd, I initially thought I was in for some pretty old fashioned, simplistic, basic stuff in the worst possible way. The delivery was just so slow, and measured, and hitting the beats in the most obvious way. But as the song roiled on, I started to appreciate just how dense his words were. They may have been measured and slowly steady, but they were also relentless and constant, never letting up for a moment.
I’ll admit, there were more than a few times during Paid in Full that I either zoned out, or found it a little too old fashioned and basic. But whenever I made the effort to actually listen. I loved everything Eric B & Rakim had to offer. For someone coming to it today, this album is a bit of a victim of its own success. It influenced so much of what was to come, and provided its disciples with such a solid grounding, those disciples had a head start, and were able to take everything they learned and push it even further.