Rakim Taps DJ Premier And Pharrell For New Album, Says He Doesn’t Speak With Eric B.
On His Recent Projects
“I’m working on an album right now. It feels good. I feel like I had a lot of responsibilities with the last album with everything that was going on and being the album was so late. I still felt like I had that responsibility to let out what was going on the last few years. With The Seventh Seal, it was a conscious album, and the album I’m working on now, I can have fun in the studio and do good hip-hop songs, so I’m kind of having fun with this one. I’m only a few songs deep. I’m reaching out to a bunch of producers. I just got in touch with a lot cats and we trying to get the chemistry together and whip up something nice that’s a bit Rakim and that’s somewhat today and again, it’s just some good hip-hop music. We also working on a couple of anniversary albums to put out [some] of the old music that made me who I am today.
“I like to kind of keep it a secret [who I'm working with] because you never know—I might do twenty songs and pick fifteen. At the same time, it’s good that people know what I’m doing. I’m speaking with people like Pharrell. Of course, some of the old cats that I was dealing with on the old records—Premier—and some of the new cats that’s doing they thing. I want to make sure that the album is me, but it has that 2013 – 2017 feel.
“[Who I'd like to work with is] a big list because I never work with a lot of people. I was always by myself in the studio. I did very few collaborations as well. When me and Eric was coming up, it was a different time. Each group kind of did their own production and years later, people started venturing out. There’s a lot of people as far as producers. Timbaland, I always would love to work with him. He’s a real talented cat. There’s a lot of MC’s out there that I respect. You never know—you might find a couple of those collabos that I’ve been meaning to do on this album.”
On Lyricism In Hip-Hop Today
“Right now, it’s depending on what you listen to. I tell a lot of people that hip-hop seemingly went worldwide 10 years ago, 15 years ago and in every little town that you can probably find, hip-hop is there now. I think it’s young in a lot of places. When we first got into it in the Bronx, it was “a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie to the hip hip-hop and you don’t stop,” you know what I mean? And I think as time went on New York matured and that raised the bar. But you know, a lot of other cities are just getting it, and they are not gonna be as experienced with it as we are at this point. So they are going to start where we started at—“A hip, hop…” It sounds different because it’s their language, but it’s the same thing. I think it’s young in a lot of places and they are having fun with it.
“I think what makes a great lyricist is somebody that has a good understanding on life and what’s going on. They can play with words. They gotta be a wordsmith. I think what for myself that makes me the MC that I am is that I had a lot of music influence. I didn’t just start rapping. I played a musical instrument. I grew up so in love with music that it wasn’t nothing that I didn’t listen to when I was young. I think just understanding music and rhythms and different styles and learning how to incorporate that within your rhyme—because we’re not singing. There is only so much we can do with words. That’s where the different rhythms and different styles come in. I think incorporating that melodic style in your rhyme—I think that it kind of sticks with people. It makes it where they can see the difference between just somebody that’s rhyming and somebody that’s putting words together and making art with it.”