Rakim's impact on the game runs deep.
Understand that Rakim played one of the most important roles, if not the most, in changing the art of flow. For that, he remains a legendary figure in the hip-hop pantheon of greats, and one that likely proved influential to degrees beyond our understanding. Luckily, Rakim has been returning to the public eye in recent months, hitting a press tour for his book Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius. Ra recently hit up the Hot 97 for an engaging conversation with Ebro, Laura, and Rosenberg.
It doesn't take long for Ra's connection with A$AP Rocky to be raised. "That's humbling," replies Rakim, after Laura mentions that A$AP Rocky was named after The God. "What's crazy about that is I remember driving through Harlem. A lady walks across the street, I was at a light. She got a carriage and everything. She says can 'you sign this for me?' I never say no. I say 'what's him name?' Rakim. I'm like word? She's like Rakim. I sign the joint, I remember that day, cause that was the first time hearing someone named their son after me. Like I said, humbling experience."
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Evidently, that boy was A$AP Rocky. "Years later, for him to pop up. I've seen him rising, like that's dope. But then, when I spoke to him, he brought the story up. It all came back to me man. It was crazy. Big up to A$AP too." He also takes a moment to reflect on his brief tenure with Dr. Dre's Aftermath, opening up about that particular section of his vault. "I think Dre did maybe a beat, but his crew had ten, twelve tracks for me. Different producers in the crew." Ebro inquired about some of the challenges of working with Aftermath, which essentially boiled down to adaptability.
"Trying to adapt to what Dre wanted to do, but at the same time keep my grounds," reflects Ra. "It was a little confusing, we couldn't get on the same page. Dre got a formula that works for him, it'a gangsta rap. I had to let him know I been there, did that. I don't think people want to hear Ra go take it back to the streets, you know what I mean? Just trying to keep my ID...I was trying to fit in and not be difficult to work with. A diva. I do have my certain style of music I like to write to."
Be sure to check out the full interview below, and salute to Rakim for keeping it one hundred all these years.