Rakim Regrets Treating Fellow Emcees Like Enemies: “That’s All I Knew”

He says it took time and maturity for him to reconcile that other artists weren’t against him, but his street mentality was all he knew at the time.

BYErika Marie
Rakim Regrets Treating Fellow Emcees Like Enemies: “That’s All I Knew”

He's earned his stripes as one of the most respected and celebrated Rap legends in the history of the genre, and while his accomplishments are coveted, there are a few regrets that Rakim has when he reflects upon his life. The New York rapper has remained successful in the music industry for decades, and while he is hailed as one of the best lyricists in the world, Rakim recently shared that he wishes he hadn't viewed his fellow rappers as enemies or opponents.

Rakim Regrets Treating Fellow Emcees Like Enemies: "That's All I Knew"
Astrid Stawiarz / Stringer / Getty Images

"For years, I used to beat myself up because I was that dude. I wouldn't conversate with too many other emcees. If I did, it was 'What up,' 'Peace,' 'Thank you,' [or] 'Later,' type of thing," said Rakim of the competitive energy during his era. He added that he had a street mentality and he used that way of thinking with other artists. Rakim admitted to keeping everyone at arm's length but it took maturation for him to reflect on that approach with a bit of remorse. There were plenty of rappers from his era that he respected, but he wasn't emotionally aware at that time to express his feelings.

"I drew a line in the sand and dared somebody to step over it. That's all I knew. I beat myself up for years when I grew up and matured and realized that these brothas are not really my enemies and I treated them like that for years," he added before mentioning a few noteworthy names. "You know, [LL Cool J] is doing his thing. Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Slick Rick. All these brothers that I came up with—it wasn't like they were against Ra."


"I just realized, growing and maturing [that] I just wanted to make things right and let these brothas know, regardless, so you know what we've been through or what I might have said, or vice versa, I have a lot of love and respect for them. To this day, EPMD, Kane, and KRS-One, there is nothing but love."


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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.