Hip-hop eras can be marked before and after Sugar Hill Gang, Run-DMC and Rakim. The God can be compared to contemporaries like Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap, but Rakim fathered their styles as well as those of Jay-Z, Nas and many others. Rakim was the first street poet who moved the craft of MCing from the party to the mind. His classic work with Eric B. generally consists of barrages of deep verbal imagery with choruses that serve as little more than cognitive time-outs. But in the vein of Slick Rick, Rakim could also weave a great narrative. "Mahogany" is one of Rakim's best examples of that skill. Rakim hasn't released an album in the 21st century, although his infrequent cameos give heads just enough to see that he's still got it. His long-rumored "Seventh Seal" album is finally slated for release, and Rakim makes his D.C. tour stop in support of it at the Black Cat tonight.-- Rhome Anderson (Nov. 2009)
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