While many folks in the Hip Hop community will argue that the monumental “Paid In Full” was indeed Eric B & Rakim’s greatest body of work, I would have to beg to differ. Hell, I’ve actually read on more than a few blogs that many consider “Don’t Sweat The Technique” to be the apex release as a duo. To me…well, let me just state the obvious “Let The Rhythm Hit Em” was my introduction to the God Rakim & his extremely underrated producer/DJ Eric B (damn dude, why’d you have to go an drop that solo joint??). When “Paid In Full” dropped I don’t even think that I was listening to Hip Hop!….I was probably still in my Michael Jackson “Thriller” phase (your damn right! Man, I had the glove, the jacket with 759 zippers and the whole nine baby!!). You wanna’ talk about a good day at the record shop, I picked up this album, P.R.T.’s “Holy Intellect” (damn, I need to break that one out soon for a listen!)and Ice Cube’s epic debut “Amerikka’s Most Wanted”….I was so hyped, I didn’t know which one to rip the plastic off of first! I can’t remember if it was “Let The Rhythm Hit Em” or “In The Ghetto” that I heard first, either or…they were both damn near classics. I could go on & on about how Rakim changed the rap game, or how he is the best emcee to ever rip the mic..but I’ll save you, I’m sure you’ve read those same words on more than one blog over the last few years. On the other hand, I will give Eric B. his due respect(not for his solo joint either, BTW…I read somewhere recently that he was a bodyguard for some prominent figure….Suge Knight maybe???) for crafting some banging beats for Rakim Allah. Let’s be real here, similar to Pete & CL for example…has CL ever sounded half as fresh over anyone’s beats beside P.R.’s?….I think not. Likewise with Rakim, you can go on & on about how dope he sounded over a Primo beat…or even Clark Kent’s sh*t for that matter..but I’m not havin‘ that! Rakim’s commanding flow, vivid lyricism and rapid fire delivery fit like a glove with Eric B’s upbeat, frantic production. Something of note, word on the street is that “Let The Rhythm Hit Em’” was actually ghost-produced by the late, great Paul C (Organized Konfusion’s debut) and Extra P, Large Pro….or whatever you wanna’ call him. Hmmmm, I guess we’ll never know! At 11 tracks deep, this album was nearly perfect (I think the Source gave this their coveted 5 mic rating)….short sweet and to the point. If I had to lose one cut from “Let The Rhythm Hit Em’” it would have to be “Step Back”…I’ve skipped that one more than a few times over the years…not that it’s horrible, it just seems a little out of place next to the likes of “Run For Cover” & “No Omega”. Just like they’ll never be another Pete & CL, Erick & Parrish, Snoop & Dre…there will NEVER be another Eric B & Rakim…-Eric
Okay, you may already know the story by now…if not, it goes a little something like this: Two young aspiring emcees (remember these cats in the Unsigned Hype column in the Source?) begin recording an album that many would soon hail as the revival of hardcore East Coast Rap….1/2 of the duo soon ends up doin‘ a bid (Capone) soon leaving the other half (Noreaga) to embark on finishing The War Report all by his lonesome with some help from a few Queensbridge buddies (Nas, Tragedy, Mobb Deep, etc, etc.). Released in June of 1997 (on Tommy Boy? Damn, I coulda‘ swore it was Penalty) with the jiggy era about to blast off, Capone & Noreaga dropped a Classic that will never be forgotten if your even somewhat off an East Coast Hip Hop fan. My introduction to “C.N.N.” was the “T.O.N.Y.” single, which was coincidentally produced by a few off Puffy’s soon to be Hitmen (Nashiem Myrick & Carlos “6 July” Broady)….whoooooo, I’m tellin you “T.O.N.Y.” was that knock boyeee! Admittingly, I wasn’t too found of the “NY, NY” (released by the Dogg Pound) response “LA, LA” (which also featured Mobb Deep & Tragedy)….I mean, Marley Marl laced these two young cats with a decent soundscape, but it still seemed like a halfhearted attempt of a comeback cut…it just need to be a little more vicious. Still, plenty to love on “The War Report”…to this day my favorite always has been and always will be “Live On Live Long”, with a dragged out, but simple, sing songy hook (C.N.N……C.N.N…)this cut gives me the goosebumps. Funny thing is, it was produced by G-Money and I couldn’t begin to tell you who in the hell dude is. “Stick You” produced by Naughty Shorts (uuuuhh, here’s another one?) is just plain eerily dope and let’s not forget the remix to “Closer” that wasn’t even included on “The War Report” (BTW, someone please hook me up with a link for that). Oh, and lastly let’s not forget “Capone Bone” which finds Capone boasting about his sexual prowess with the honeydips. What about the production? Are you kidding me, Lord Finesse, Buckwild, Puffy’s Hitmen, Marley Marl & EZ Elpee all contribute some beasts of beats to “The War Report”. Man, I think this album never properly has received it’s due…sad thing is, it may be due to the amount of garbage that both have been dropping lately (Melvyn Flynt anyone? And Capone’s “Menace 2 Society”?..sorry). Damn, why are rookie efforts always the best albums (in most cases) dropped during an artists tenure….Never made much sense to me….
“Yesh, Yesh, Ya’ll…OGC, Heltah Skeltah be the best ya’ll, yes yes YAWWWL“…man, you had to love Fab 5′s debut single “Leflah Leflour Eshkoshka” (damn, I bitch about spellin‘ Pharoahe!). With an old school flair and a pass the mic stylee, soon both duo’s would succeed in hitting us with super dope debuts (O.G.C.’s “Da Storm”..stay tuned for more on that and “Nocturnal). Who knew that 1/5 of the emcees featured on “Leflah” would go on to be one of my favorite rappers today…Sean PEEEEEEE! Now help me out here, I coulda‘ swore that the B-Side to “Leflah..” was “Blah, Blah, Blah” which wasn’t even included on “Nocturnal”. I wish I wouldn’t have thrown out all my tapes, because discogs.com is stating that “Letha Brainz Blo” was the B Side (if this is the case, someone has gotta’ hook me up with “Blah…”. Anyway, with most of the production handled by The Beatminerz (gotta’ love em’), there where also a few contributions beat-wise that I originally didn’t know. Sadat X & Buckshot actually co-produced “Here We Come” which was also the “Intro” , Shawn J. Period laced “Place To Be” (is this the same Shawn J. Period of the Down South fame?) & what I found to be most surprising E-Swift of Tha Alkaholiks produced “Operation Lockdown“. Of course, Ruck & Rock kept ball rollin‘ with their exceptional chemistry and comedic metaphors on “Nocturnal”…but, what I loved most about the duo is that they were and still are completely original. Even today, Sean P may rap about things that are commonplace in Hip Hop, but he does it in such a way that keeps you attentive and eager for the next verse ( I still love P’s freestyle over Alicia Keys “You Don’t Know My Name” more than anything he’s ever dropped!). My favorites on “Nocturnal” are “Undastand” with it’s booming bassline and the “Dr. Kill Patient” featured “Therapy” (remember the video for that joint?) which were both produced by Baby Paul of the Beatminerz. Enjoy this one like it’s the last good Heltah Skeltah joint you’ll ever hear…..well, basically it was because “Magnum Force” was…..damn, what went wrong with that one? Still, good to see the duo still alive and kicking!…-Eric