When we heard Rakim (of Eric B. and Rakim fame) was coming to town, we bopped our collective heads while listening to his last release, 1999's The Master, and also cocked our heads in confusion. What's the dude doing going on an album tour for the first time since 1999? Doesn't he know that the past seven years have seen the Industrial Revolution of hip-hop, with its shift from soft commerciality to an overly saturated market of sterile production, lame bubblegum rhymes, and pretty-boy marketing obsessed with a phat paycheck? Forget researching the 'Net to see what the granddaddy of rap is up to — there ain't shit. Truth is, this mic veteran who debuted in 1985 still retains his knack for rolling vocal spits that meander through laid-back rhymes to more aggressive techniques, and we're confident that he hasn't conceded one wit or rhyme for the sake of the dolla-dolla bill, y'all. So we'll excuse the hiatus, because when you're named the best rapper ever by countless critics' polls, you can do whatever the hell you want. And that's on the real.


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