Paid in Full
Eric B. and Rakim
You Know They Got Soul
Paid in Full is the old-school hip-hop handbook, a mother lode that inspired countless other classics while establishing some of the form's standard practices. It taught subsequent generations tactics for massaging sound (by using effects, chopping samples into discrete bits, etc.), and showed countless producers ways to vary the boom-bap.
Start by paying attention to the elaborate beat schemes. Eric B. (full name Eric Barrier) wasn't the first hip-hop DJ to find treasure in the James Brown catalog, but he was among the first to do radical creative things with his gleanings—as Stetsasonic, another great New York group, once observed, "Tell the truth, James Brown was old 'til Eric and Rakim came out with 'I Got Soul.'" On that track, the turntablist massages tiny bits of familiar records—sometimes just a snare drum hit, or a touch of Brown's vocal foil Bobby Byrd, or one of Brown's trademark "Good Gawd" grunts—into an undulating, totally original mosaic. Then, he steps up to scratch sonic mayhem over the pulse; cue up the last few minutes of "My Melody" to hear one of the most deliriously inspired turntable improvisations in hip-hop history.
Most of the time, however, the rhythms are austere and streamlined, and this gives rapper Rakim (full name Rakim Allah) room to spin through rhymes like "You scream I'm lazy, you must be crazy, thought I was a donut, you tried to glaze me." Rakim's an improviser, too—while other MCs proffer unbroken streams of boasting, he packs his ideas into dense clusters, sometimes cramming several improbable internal rhymes into the same line. Even more impressive is his command of syncopation; landing hard on offbeats, and varying points of emphasis, he transforms ordinary rhyme cadences into choppy bursts of greatness.
The deluxe edition of Paid in Full is essential just for Cold Cut's remix of "Paid in Full," which is accurately subtitled "Seven Minutes of Madness." This reimagining has been nearly as influential as the original text, and stands as one of the great hip-hop remixes of all time.
Released: 1987, Fourth and Broadway (Reissued 2003, Island)
Key Tracks: "My Melody," "I Know You Got Soul," "Move the Crowd," "Paid in Full," "Eric B. Is President"
Catalog Choice: Follow the Leader
Next Stop: EPMD: Business Never Personal
After That: Eminem: The Slim Shady LP
Book Page: 260
#1 from Brent Carter, chilltown Va - 12/11/2008 2:07
Another one of my all time favorites. Rakim’s flow and delivery was way before his time I thought. Check this out if you havent heard it.