The living legend William Michael Griffin, Jr. who is more commonly known as The God MC "Rakim" was born on January 28th, 1968 in Long Island, New York. He is the other half of the legendary hip-hop duo with DJ Eric B. Even though Rakim never became a household name, he is still universally considered as one of the greatest MC's to step to a microphone. Rakim revolutionized and raised the bar for all MC's that came after him with his silky smooth flow that is reminiscent to a funky jazz saxophone rhythm. In fact, Rakim detailed in this interview with KRS One that since his mother was a Jazz singer, he grew up going to music school, learned how to read music and even play the saxophone. Growing up in this environment filled with Jazz music, Rakim detailed in the interview above about how he fell in love with the style of the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane. Thus, once Rakim started to write rhymes he wasn't flowing at the same rate most rappers were because he was thinking in a jazz mindset in which he used multiple syllable words right after each other with a certain upbeat tempo that was reminiscent of a Coltrane solo on the saxophone. This had never been done before. His existential lyrics and flow along with Eric B.'s production instantly put himself and his group member among Hip-Hop's elite forever.
Rakim met his group member and DJ Eric B in 1985 in Queens. Eric B gifted Rakim masterfully carved jazzy beats that would birth numerous classic Hip-Hop tracks such as,"Eric B. Is President"and "Paid in Full". Their best work together came with both their freshman and sophomore efforts alike in "Paid in Full" that was released in 1987. The follow up album to this classic project was 1988's "Follow the Leader". Their final two albums, "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em" (1990) and "Don't Sweat the Technique" (1992) both had their high points but were nowhere near as well received as their first two classic albums.
Eventually the group would break up after their 4th album as all great hip-hop duo's eventually do, but Rakim's legacy is forever cemented because he influenced many of the great MC's to start rapping. Specifically in this interview with the one and only Nasir "Nas" Jones. Nas goes on to detail how hearing Rakim rhyme completely influenced him to raise the level of his craft as an MC in hopes to gain recognition from The God MC Rakim.
Peep his classic music videos and songs with the great DJ Eric B below!