Rakim Talks Will Smith Biting His Style: "It Was A Bittersweet Feeling"

The emcee said every rapper wants someone to bite their style.

BYErika Marie

When Rakim sits down for an interview, the hip hop world takes notice. On Thursday, the Paid In Full rap legend caught up with Power 105.1's The Breakfast Club and chatted about his 30-plus years as an artist, his personal life, and what the public can expect from his memoir, Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius

Rakim, born William Michael Griffin Jr., rose to stardom as one half of the hip hop duo, Eric B. & Rakim. He's arguably considered one of the greatest rappers of all-time, and he's finally opening up about his life and what he learned as a formidable figure during the golden era of hip hop history.

There are many takeaways from Rakim's The Breakfast Club appearance but an interesting moment came was when they spoke about one of Will Smith's most popular Fresh Prince hits, "Summertime." The 1991 single has gone down in history as a hip hop classic and is still considered to be one of the top summer jams of all time, but upon its release, critics couldn't help but take notice of the similarities between Smith and Rakim's flow.

Over the years there have been plenty of rumors suggesting that Rakim wrote "Summetime," and the rap veteran has denied them, but he spoke with the radio hosts about how he felt when he first heard the record almost 30 years ago. "Will owe me for that," he joked with a smile. "He stole that, word up. Nah. I used to play with people, too. I used to say, 'Will still owe me money, man. I still ain't get paid man.'"

"I remember the first day I heard it, first day I heard it. It came on and it was a track that me and Eric had in the library with 'Summer Madness,' word up. I was already like, 'Ah, man. Somebody already got it.' Then he started rhyming and I was like...I was listening and right away I got the bittersweet thing where I was glad that my style was resonating with people. Any rapper wants somebody to bite off your style. You know you made it when somebody bite off your style. Then right away, it’s like, 'Man, that’s my style.' It was a bittersweet feeling. I was glad, like I said, that people was gravitating towards it. I felt like I just got robbed listening [to it] in the car."

Rakim said that he's met Smith, even toured with him, but admitted that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star never paid homage. "You can still holla though, Will," the rapper joked. "It ain't too late." Watch Rakim's entire interview below.


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About The Author
Erika Marie is a seasoned journalist, editor, and ghostwriter who works predominantly in the fields of music, spirituality, mental health advocacy, and social activism. The Los Angeles editor, storyteller, and activist has been involved in the behind-the-scenes workings of the entertainment industry for nearly two decades. E.M. attempts to write stories that are compelling while remaining informative and respectful. She's an advocate of lyrical witticism & the power of the pen. Favorites: Motown, New Jack Swing, '90s R&B, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, & Punk; Funk, Soul, Harlem Renaissance Jazz greats, and artists who innovate, not simply replicate.