Rakim is one of the most influential artists ever, but that didnt stop me from somehow losing my first and only interview with the god of rap. After some moving and some searching, the 30-minute chat has been unearthed. The Long Island native was supremely informative and surprisingly candid during the conversation. Rakim speaks on everything from the Dr. Dre debacle to ghost producing his biggest hits to the roots of a competition with Big Daddy Kane. Years old, this recently re-discovered interview is as green as pine tree.
AllHipHop.com: You and Dr. Dre. I know this may be a dead horse and everything, but this is the first time that weve talked so I have to ask. It could be argued that you and Dre are the best rapper and the best producer of all time.
Rakim: Exactly. Thanks.
AllHipHop.com: What went wrong that we couldnt get collaborative album out?
Rakim: I think the best way to explain it is Ive thought about it. Me and Dre been in the game for a while and we both had our own M.O. Dre had his trademark and if it aint broke dont fix it. And I had my way of doing my things. I was kind of stuck on my direction that I wanted to take, but I guess Dre had a different direction. So, it was hard getting on the same page. Things didnt work out, but I respect Dre as an artist and I aint burning no bridges. Its like two different people trying to do two different things like night and day.
AllHipHop.com: I saw you live one time, in Philly at Club Gotham many years ago. You were rockin and stage diving. You actually jumped on me right in the neck. I was just hype though. It was crazy.
Rakim: I got things that I love to do and the crowd kind of loves that s**t too, where you go out there with the crowd. You let them know youre just like them and want to party. I dont do too much moving around, but I like to get right, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: There were some rumors that you did a lot of early production for Eric B and Rakim, when you all were a group. How true is that?
Rakim: Yeah, I did most of the production.
AllHipHop.com: Will you be doing any more going forward?
Rakim: No doubt. I been in the crates. Im going to produce a couple joints on this album and once I set up my label, Im going to produce a couple for my artists as well. Im back on my craft and presenting Hip-Hop the way I think it should be heard.
AllHipHop.com: What was the biggest record that you produced that we would know?
Rakim: You could say Juice, you could say Eric B Is President. My man Eric put the bassline on though. Follow The Leader. Dont Sweat The Technique. My Melody, but Marley [Marl] did it at his crib. That was early. It was my idea. I could keep going man, [I produced] damn near everything. I Aint No Joke. Move The Crowd.” Musical Massacre. The Punisher. Lyrics of Fury.
AllHipHop.com: [stunned] You did Lyrics of Fury? (This is a personal favorite of the writer.)
Rakim: No doubt.
AllHipHop.com: Between that and Kool G Raps Men At Work, those might be my favorite lyrical works of art of all time.
Rakim: I love that crazy s**t man. I love G Rap for that s**t too. That was like a whole little movement man.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of that, lets segue to Big Daddy Kane a little bit. There were always rumors that you and Kane had an intense rivalry. Is there any truth to that?
Rakim: No, what happened was, the media started gassing me and Kane. They said, Ra, I think Kane is going at you and vice versa. I do what I do, man, and I aint got no shame with it. So, when I heard little things being said, I kinda fell for it. But that was early in my career. On Let the Rhythm Hit Em, I had put a couple bars in there for Kane.
Big Daddy Kane Vs Rakim: The battle that never was.
AllHipHop.com: You mean the lyric Word to Daddy, Indeed?
Rakim: That was a slang word in the hood so that wasnt really for Kane. I had four or eight bars that were for Kane that I took out. Thats why people thought there was a record for Kane that never came out. I just took the bars out. What had happened is Eric Bs brother used to hang out with Kane and G Rap and Erics brother let Kane hear the song. And they called me up and Kane got on the phone and was like, Ra, you know, it aint no beef. People be gassing me up and asking me if you saying this and seeing if Im saying this to you. I aint got no beef with you I felt like he was sincere with it and I took the eight bars out.
AllHipHop.com: Right, right.
Rakim: A lot of people ask me if we had beef, but that day, when he said that I thought no more of it. Sometimes you can feel a little tension, but I aint got no problem. I aint got no problem with Kane. Saw him the other night, gave him a hug. Thats my dude.
NEXT: Rakim Part 2: Nas, The 80s & Private Life
Eric B & Rakim – “Microphone Fiend”
Eric B. & Rakim – Juice (Know The Ledge)
Eric B & Rakim – Let The Rhythm Hit’em (live)