Since breaking from former partner Eric. B in the mid-1990s, Rakim has worked with a variety of producers on his material, including DJ Premier and Clark Kent. Now, after collaborating with Aaron LaCrate on his Milkcrate Athletics mixtape, Rakim says that he will be working with the producer on his forthcoming album.
“He sent me some heat, man,” Rakim said during an interview with XXL. “I was just telling him just now I can feel the hairs growing out of my head talking about it. He’s a dope producer.”
Rakim says that the beats he’s gotten from the Baltimore producer impressed him immediately. “I don’t want to let the cat of the bag, but the track he hit me with was a no-brainer,” Rakim said. “As soon as I heard it, I was like, ‘Yo, man. This is not only what I need, I think this is what the game need too.’”
Eric B. & Rakim debuted in 1986 with the songs “Eric B. Is President” and “My Melody.” The cuts featured the Long Island, New York rapper rhyming with a distinct, slow delivery style that was accented by lyrics that were deemed poetic by critics and fans. Eric B. & Rakim’s debut album, 1987’s Paid In Full, is one of the most acclaimed albums in Rap history. Rakim released his debut solo album, The 18th Letter/The Book Of Life, in 1997.
After producing Baltimore Gutter and Rap songs for several years, Aaron LaCrate released the Milkcrate Mixtape in July. In addition to Rakim, it featured Raekwon, Bun B and Prodigy of Mobb Deep, among others.
Rakim says that his forthcoming material is consistent to the foundation he laid with his early work with Eric B.
“It’s all good what some of the cats are doing today, but that ain’t Rakim,” he said. “I would never jump on a bandwagon and do what somebody is doing. First of all, that ain’t my style. Nah mean. Second of all, that ain’t my style. You feel me? Again, Hip Hop is here for us. You gotta not take it for granted. We gotta do what we want to do from the heart. And keep in mind the elders, what the first-borns had in mind with this Hip Hop thing.”