“It’s been along time, I shouldn’t have left you, without a strong rhyme to step to.
Think of how many weak shows you slept through. Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you”.
Those words always seem to ring truth each time Rakim aka “Allah, The God MC” drops an album. The last time I heard any new Rakim shit was 07’ with the Lost and Found outing. There were gems on there and Rakim found a team that he still works with on this new album The Seventh Seal. Yeah it’s a bit biblical for an album title, Book of Revelations to be exact, but it fits the all around concept Rakim is pushing. I mean The God Rakim Allah + The Seventh Seal + Hip Hop’s current state =???? The album cover says it all. He’s at some dry ass desert backdrop with the ground cracking. Translation, the culture has been sucked dry and now will be swallowed into obscurity never to resurface again much like blues, jazz and funk music that doesn’t involve George Clinton. However I may be too invested in the seeking out of hidden messages.
The album sets off perfect with “How to Emcee”. The beat reminds of you of 88’ and Rakim seems like he tapped into the only other legend on his level KRS-ONE for the first verse. I swear you can hear Kris giving you the same first verse. The only thing that makes some of the album hard to completely enjoy is the hooks. I mean if you know Rakim’s catalog, you know hooks are rare in his music. “I Ain’t No Joke”, “Microphone Fiend”, “Don’t Sweat the Technique”, “Know the Ledge”, “Mahogany”, “Lyrics Of Fury” and most of his songs really were never hook driven, his lyrics sold the songs. A few hooks on the new songs do work like on “Documentary of Gangsta,” where Rah taps into his Juice days, breaks the character and story down perfectly over a slow ill beat that reminds you of Dre when he was on that slow sick key driven shit. The fourth track, “Man Above” showcases Rah’s insight that makes him miles above average MCs no matter the era, but again the hook is the worst part of the track.
One thing is evident Rakim, like KRS on Survival Skills, sounds so refreshed. He has the ability to make basic lines sound like the sickest shit and gives you the impression he can make any word in any language rhyme with something. To hear him spitting is like watching Rachel Ray make a dish or a professor on a University channel laying things out on the board. It truly is like being taught how to be a MC and say shit complex and relevant with content. On “Where I Belong” he states, “It feels like I’m back where I belong when I’m in the booth.” It shows. “Holy Are You” which spits the truth and is the standout of the album, truly puts it all in perspective. Oh, and did I mention it’s also track seven… Yeah it’s like that. The second verse is pure Hip Hop, not one misstep at all on that verse.
Another thing I’m not completely behind is the production. “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sounds like something Talib Kweli would have rocked in 2000. And “Walk These Streets” sounds like Pac and the Outlaws should have been on there, as the beat and hook sound more fitted for them. I swear I thought Pac was coming in at some point. “Message In The Song” sounds like a knock off of “Smile” by The Alchemist, Twista and Maxwell The sample vocal makes you reminisce of Kanye West when “Slow Jams” dropped.
I know I’m contradicting myself with these comments but it would have been cool to have Primo, Showbiz, Beatminerz or Beatnuts add their production to project. I say that reluctantly because it’s cool to hear new blood get a chance to shine and to be rocking with a legend. One track where the production is undeniably good is “Psychic Love,” but the hook is bland. The final track, “Dedicated” is to his mother. You get a glimpse into the man William Michael Griffin Jr. and his life. The No Doubt sample makes the song more touching, and was used well and not just for sake of the quote itself.
I’m sure this album won’t make any best of 09’ or 2010 list because it’s independent and the only people even plugging it are small websites and blogs. Would it mean anything if it did? I mean Gucci Mane has been handed the crown for 09 but that’s a whole nutha subject. Maybe not having big names on the beats or verses caused reason for such disrespect by not putting the word out that Rakim has returned. The album isn’t classic but it’s not bad by any means. This is great album to introduce new kids who want to rhyme and don’t know how, to go about building their bars because no one could construct a verse like Rakim in his prime. I think this is an album to get your hands on. Believe me, it won’t tarnish your image of the God MC.