On this day, July 7, in hip-hop history…
1987: Eric B. & Rakim released one of the most influential rap albums of all time. Paid In Full was an all-around perfect album, from their Dapper Dan custom suits and gold jewelry on the cover to Rakim’s superior MCing skills. This was a debut with records that still hold up.
Paid In Full came on the heels of Run-DMC hitting the mainstream. As a pair, Eric B. and Rakim revolutionized hip-hop into something that was poignant and worth studying. Eric B. offered stripped-down production—even approaching a few tracks with nothing but scratch and sampling. On the other hand, his partner flowed with internal complex rhymes and literal imagery. The “God MC”‘s technique on the microphone was innovative. Collectively, their work on Paid In Full was highly regarded as the pinnacle of golden age hip-hop.
The album produced some legendary cuts ever released. Songs like “Eric B. Is President” and “My Melody” were deeply lyrical, while “I Know You Got Soul” was a dance-ready jam featuring a frequently quoted line: “It’s been a long time/I shouldn’t have left you/Without a strong rhyme to step to.” Even the title track “Paid In Full” had a huge impact on hip-hop, where artists like Mannie Fresh and Lil Wayne have paid homage in previous songs.
In short, Paid In Full captured the vibe of the streets like no other rap album. To this day, the album continues to gain respect and inspires plenty of active MCs in the game. Not bad for a debut.