RAKIM | Bio
William Michael Griffin Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim (born January 28, 1968), is an American rapper. One half of golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time.
Rakim is the nephew of the late American R&B singer and actress Ruth Brown. He grew up in Wyandanch, New York on Long Island, and became involved in the New York City hip hop scene when he was eighteen years old.
Rakim, then known as Kid Wizard in 1985, made his first recordings live at Wyandanch High School. Rakim was initially introduced to the Nation of Islam in 1986, and later joined The Nation of Gods and Earths (also known as the 5 Percent Nation), and adopted the name Rakim Allah.
ERIC B. & RAKIM
First meeting in 1985 after Rakim responded to Eric B.'s search for "New York's top MC", Eric B's friend and roommate Marley Marl allowed them to use his home studio. In 1986, Eric B. brought him to Marley Marl's house to record "Eric B. Is President".
Eric B. and Rakim went on to release four studio albums before their separation in 1992. The duo were described by journalist Tom Terrell of NPR as "the most influential DJ/MC combo in contemporary pop music period", while the editors of About.com ranked them as No. 4 on their list of the 10 Greatest Hip-Hop Duos of All-Time. They were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, although they did not make the final selection.
The first track they recorded—"Eric B. Is President"—was released as a single on the independent Zakia Records in 1986. After Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons heard the single, the duo were signed to Island Records and began recording the album in Manhattan's Power Play Studios in early 1987.
On July 7, 1987, the duo released their debut album, Paid in Full, on the Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The album peaked at #58 on the Billboard 200 chart and produced five singles: "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".Eric B. & Rakim's album Paid in Full was named the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV in 2006, while Rakim himself was ranked #4 on MTV's list of the Greatest MCs of All Time. Steve Huey of AllMusic stated that "Rakim is near-universally acknowledged as one of the greatest MCs – perhaps the greatest – of all time within the hip-hop community."
The editors of About.com ranked him #2 on their list of the 'Top 50 MCs of Our Time (1987–2007)'. Rakim began his career as the emcee of the rap duo Eric B. & Rakim, who in 2011 were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2012, The Source ranked him #1 on their list of the "Top 50 Lyricists of All Time.
After his breakup with Eric B. in early 1993, Rakim kept a low profile, only making one notable appearance on the soundtrack to the 1993 film Gunmen. A reshuffling in MCA caused Rakim to be dropped from the label in 1994. As Rakim continued to struggle with legal problems, he secured a deal with Universal Records and began recording his solo debut album The 18th Letter in 1996. In November 1997, the album The 18th Letter was released. Expectations were high for Rakim, as the album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 and went certified Gold by the RIAA.
In June 1999, Rakim appeared on three tracks of "The Seduction of Claude Debussy" by Art of Noise. AllMusic's Keith Farley notes that "the album charts the artistic use of sampled breakbeats -- pioneered by the Art of Noise themselves -- with nods to '80s hip-hop plus their '90s equivalent, drum'n'bass."
In November 1999, Rakim released The Master, which received good reviews but sold poorly.
Rakim was signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment record label in 2000, for work on an album tentatively titled Oh, My God. The album underwent numerous changes in artistic direction and personnel and was delayed several times. While working on the album, Rakim made guest appearances on numerous Aftermath projects, including the hit single "Addictive" by Truth Hurts, the Dr. Dre-produced "The Watcher Part 2" by Jay-Z, and Eminem's 8 Mile soundtrack.
However, Rakim left the label in 2003 and Oh, My God was indefinitely shelved. After Rakim eventually left Aftermath Entertainment, he stated that the reason he departed the label was because of creative differences with Dr. Dre. Rakim used a metaphorical example that Dr. Dre wanted Rakim to write about killing someone, while Rakim wanted to write about the resurrection of someone.