EXCLUSIVE: Rakim on the Essence of Hip-Hop, 5% Nation, Seventh Seal

AllHipHop Staff

Fresh off completing a headlining set at Atlanta’s annual A3C festival, Hip-Hop legend Rakim Allah is ready for a big comeback with his latest album The Seventh Seal.

With a new track featuring Maino recently leaked (“Walk These Streets”), Rakim revealed the forthcoming album is an effort to push Hip-Hop creativity forward.

“The Seventh Seal is a sign of the times if you’re paying attention, if you look at the tsunamis to the Recession. So if I can bring awareness to the youth and see what’s going on, they’ll be more ready for some of the things that will take place [in the future]” Rakim explained to AllHipHop.com. “I’m the tsunami of rap. I’m going to shut it down and we’ll start all over from the top. It’s time to take it to the next level. Everybody is doing the same thing, we gotta keep evolving. Seventh Seal is an option for those who want to change what they’re doing, or trying to better themselves. It’s not too much about Rakim, and more the listener. It’s definitely for the youth, but I’m an old dude and got something for the old heads as well.”

The album represents Rakim Allah’s first album in 10 years. When asked if he was holding the material for the “right time,” Rakim clarified that it was simply label issues that held him back.

“It was more with the label thing,” he stated. “I wanted to get my business straight. I got my own label now [Ra Records], so there’s no better time than the present.”

The Seventh Seal marks the debut of his daughter Destiny Griffin, who sings the hook for one of the tracks. As to whether another potential music icon’s career was beginning, Rakim framed it as more of a personal bonding experience with his offspring.

“I don’t push my kids to do nothing as far as musically. If it’s something they want to do, I’m with them 100%,” Rakim told AllHipHop.com. “My daughter is just built like that. She said daddy I want to do the hook. I wrote the hook, and she did it on her first time sitting in the mic booth. She don’t really want to be a singer, you might not hear a personal album from her. But the track came out dope. I’m there for mines so they do want they want to do and not what they think I want them to do.”

For many listeners, their introduction to the Islamic offshoot organization The Nation of Gods and Earths came from Rakim’s early classic albums, such as Paid in Full,Follow the Leader, and Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em. Since the early 90’s the group’s Hip-Hop influence has declined sharply. However, Rakim believes philosophical and socially relevant Hip-Hop is primed for a return to the mainstream.

“I think the Nation of Gods and Earths is always going to be respected as what it is. When you have people representing that and shining, it’s always going to reflect back,” Rakim said. “But at this point, from what we’ve been going through and what we’ve been listening to, I think people are ready to change it up. You can only shoot somebody so many ways. You can only sell so many ki’s of coke. You can only buy so many cars. I think it’s getting to a point where Hip-Hop isn’t going to have a choice but to change its lyrical content”

As an artist that many feel represents the prototype of an emcee, the lyrical giant had his own interesting take on who represents the essence of Hip-Hop.

“That question is kinda ill. When I was coming up I remember being a little dude and DJs were playing disco. Hip-Hop was disco at first. So going into the park and hearing Evelyn “Champagne” King and things of that nature, and then having the DJ throwing on ‘Funky Drummer’ was a mess! So who I think is the purest form of Hip-Hop is James Brown. We didn’t know what the sound of Hip-Hop was going to be. We had a culture of people who liked to dance and dress in a certain type of way. But I think James Brown’s music started to shape the sound of Hip-Hop from the drums, to the aggression, that’s what it is. Hip-Hop is a kid of James Brown. We’re all James Brown’s kids.”

Rakim’s Seventh Seal is set for release on November 17, and hosts appearances from Maino, The Lox, and Busta Rhymes.

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