On this day, May 22, in hip-hop history...

MCA

1990: On May 22, 1990, hip-hop duo Eric B & Rakim dropped their third studio album, Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em.

Just two LPs in, Eric B. and Rakim were already considered the faces of Rap’s golden age. Paid In Full introduced dense multisyllabic rhyme schemes and reapplied the arts of sampling and turntable mixing; Follow The Leader saw the duo experimenting with wider musical influences. But with Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em, Rakim Allah added a vital element to his already versatile rap repertoire: narratives and storytelling.

In 1990, the New York duo signed to MCA Records and adopted a more mature lyrical approach on their tracks. “In The Ghetto” offered a vivid, harrowing account of life in the streets while “Mahogany” told of Rakim’s pursuit of a fine love interest. Yet many of the tracks on Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em still showcased The R’s rapid-fire delivery and complex rhyme patterns.

Beats were originally supposed to be handled by both the group and engineer Paul C, but the latter’s untimely death in 1989 lead to a last-minute addition of Large Professor. While not as jazzy as the subsequent "Don’t Sweat The Technique," production on Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em is considerably smoother than previous projects.

The album earned a perfect five mics from The Source, and today is considered one of the group’s best releases. Large Professor would find success a year later with Main Source, while Eric B. and Rakim would drop just one more LP before disbanding.—Steven Goldstein 

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