On this day, June 23, in hip-hop history…


1992: It wasn’t supposed to be their last album. Both members of the duo were interested in working on solo projects, but The R and The President had no intention of splitting after their fourth LP was released and their contract with MCA expired. When disputes over ownership of masters and distribution of royalties arose, however, Don’t Sweat The Technique became a bifurcation of both hip-hop’s most successful duo to date and the culture at large.

The nostalgia of Don’t Sweat The Technique isn’t just rooted in Eric B. & Rakim’s final collaborations. The album saw the group experimenting with jazz sampling and more defined narratives as the Golden Age waned. The rolling bass and squawking saxophone of the title track earned radio rotation, while “Juice (Know The Ledge)” flipped a Nat Adderley sample as Rakim detailed a power-hungry drug dealer who’s story ended in a shady set up and a puddle of blood.

Ra’s brooding bars fit seamlessly over Eric B.’s transition to jazz and live instrumentation, and though it didn’t sell as well as previous efforts, Don’t Sweat The Technique still stands as one of the duo’s most consistent releases. The standout of Don’t Sweat The Technique, “Casualties Of War,” featured Rakim rapping about post-Gulf War politics, PTSD and his Muslim faith.

Don’t Sweat The Technique debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard Top 200. Shortly after its release, Eric B. signed a solo deal with 95th Street Recordings. Rakim Allah would eventually drop The 18th Letter in 1997. But both artists never matched the success of their group work and the four seminal albums they produced together. Twenty-two years later, we’re still not sweating.--Steven Goldstein