Artist: Eric B. & RakimTitle: Paid In Full (CLASSIC REVIEW)Rating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Styles P
Shortly before the long-awaited, longer delayed release of his sophomore LP Time Is Money, Styles P was down to talk about the seminal Eric B. & Rakim album Paid In Fullbut he had to do it his way. While the rest of AllHipHop’s CLASSIC REVIEW series critiques each LP song-by-song, the Ghost got frustrated after only three selections in. “To go track for track, it’d be hard,” Styles later said. “That album…if hip-hop was a Bible, that’s like the book of Genesis.” Below, the Lox member speaks on the universal importance of the album, its affect on Styles’ own rhymes, and personal interaction with the God MC himself. –William E. Ketchum III
The whole album…that’s the album of hip-hop. “I Ain’t No Joke,” personally to me, he’s just letting you know he’s the most dangerous MC out. “I ain’t no joke, I used to let the mic smoke…” he’s just describing to you how he doesn’t fuck around and how he don’t play. It’s just incredible.
[Eric B’s] flow and his timing on there, he’s always in sync with his timing on there and how he was catching them damn scratches. It’s legendary.
It’s hard for me, because I’ve got the same thing to say about every song. The whole album is incredible. To try breaking it down separately and all that…I believe he was just telling you to check out his melodythe song, and how he was coming down. At the time, I think he was just shutting his shit down; just shutting rap down, point blank period. It was a very devastating year, and I think that one was more of a statement. This is Rakim, I don’t know what to say. This is fuckin’ me up, because we’re talking about the god here, we’re talking about damn near the greatest album that ever existed. “My Melody,” I think it’s a calling to all the fans and all the people listening, telling you to check me out, this is what the fuck I’m saying. I’m a god, I’m a scientist.
"Paid In Full"</</always stood out to me the most. Just what he was saying– "Thinking of a master plan…" He was just breaking it down on what he was doing. For me in my life, I was in summer school at the time, going to summer school every day. At the time, drugs was kicking heavy. He was just letting you know that he was trying to get some money in his pocket; what he used to do, but now he's trying to wreck it (on the mic). That verse broke down so much shit…he said he was trying to eat his favorite meal, which is hard to do when he ain't got no money. He used to rob people for money, now he's living righteous, and he's trying to lay down this music. I guess he was giving the whole ghetto story without me even knowing it, when I look back on it now. He was speaking about the average person's life doing it in the hood. People want to go hood, but they want to eat. He broke it down specifically about his meal, his favorite dish.
That album, point blank period, to go track for track, it’d be hard. The album’s timeless. If you put it in now, you never knew…it fits. It’s hard for me to do it too, because I’ve did shows with Rakim. I’ve kicked it with him, and really know what kind of person he is. I’ve been on DVDs, I was on his tour and opened up. Every line on that fuckin’ album was powerful. MCs have breaks, you can say what’s special during a rhyme; like, “Oh, that was crazy!” You can’t really do that with Rakim, the whole part was crazy! So for me, as an MC, I pop that in there. And it’s not just (the lyrics), if you remember the things he had on, it’s telling of the time and what was going on back then: Nike Dunks, Forces, high tops, Coogi sweatshorts with the suede and the leather. Everybody who I know in my generation wanted to be Rakim, or someone like him, or wish they could’ve could spit like him. I still feel like “Damn” sometimes when I’m around Rakim. So I guess it would be [like] asking Denzel [Washington] how he feels about Sidney Poitier. It’s hard for me to break down everything, when that shit was a masterpiece. That’s not an album, that was a masterpiece. He spit god things on the song; he broke down science, he was bringing knowledge, he was bringing depth. Instead of rhyming the last words, he was rhyming every word. Instead of the last lines of your sentence rhyming, like they were doing back then, damn near every word in one sentence was matching with the next word in the next sentence.
From the depths of the lyrics (it impacted my rap style). You’ve got to think, in ’86-’87, I’m 12 or 13 years old, so it’s like a fresh mind. So I’d hear this CD, and I’m like, “What the fuck is he talking about? How is he using big words like that?” I think a big impact is that it made me want to use big words, it made you want to be intelligent. That’s why he’s considered the god of rap; he cracked a new frontier.
Sorry, it was hard for me to do that. When you’re an MC, that’s a man that I have the utmost respect for. That whole album is just a masterpiece, it’s hard to break down what was what. If I told you to look at Leonardo DiVinci’s (work), and how this picture was and how that painting was, you just know it’s a fuckin’ masterpiece. You can’t pinpoint on why it’s a masterpiece. On every single song, (Rakim) does incredible things. Some people may be like, “On that song his delivery was crazy, and on this song his lyrics were crazy, but on this song the way he was bouncing was crazy.” He did that on every single song, every one of them. He was flawless. He pitched a total shutout. That album’s like magic, so for me to specifically say which part is magic…you just know it’s magic. You just know it’s hitting your soul. All I can say is that I know it’s hitting my soul, my brain, my heart. That shit made you move in the morning, you couldn’t wait to hear it. … That shit was just life, it was culture. It was like, “Wow, look what we could do. Look what somebody from where we come from can do.” It gives you a shock, and makes you think, I can do that too, or let me give that a try.” To me, he’s just the ultimate master. He’s a legend, and he’s a fuckin’ hell of a guy. He’s a cool dude, and he’s humble. His science, knowledge, his depth, his realness. He’s everything, man.