For the past year, Rakim has shared countless stories on coming up as an MC that goes to show his influence on hip-hop is still important.

He’s appeared on many underground mixtapes this year—Macro Polo’s Newport Authority 2 and Aaron LaCrate’s Milkcrate Athletics—but Ra is just getting warmed up. On his fifth studio album, he’s ready to deliver his exceptional lyricism with the right producers.

“He sent me some heat, man,” Rakim tells XXL about his upcoming LaCrate collaboration. “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.”

LaCrate, who helped popularize the B-more gutter sound, is supplying Ra with a few beats that are right up his alley. The God MC was mum on specific details of the track, but he was confident his first collaboration with him will be “something crazy.”

“I don’t want to let the cat of the bag. But, the track he hit me with was a no-brainer,” he 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.’”

As one of the pioneers in hip-hop’s golden age, Rakim has a distinct style that sounds serious rather than conforms to accessible trends. In the three years since his last album, The Seventh Seal, he plans on sticking to the same formula—to write music that upholds his legacy.

“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.”

Rakim’s new album is slated for 2013. He is also reportedly in the studio with Pharrell working on some material.