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 1. Eric B & Rakim - Paid in Full



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Eric B. & Rakim -
Paid in Full


With all the arguments our brain trust had during this endeavor to come up with the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, you would think that it would have been a knock-down, drag-out affair when it came to declaring numero uno, right? Nope. When the tally was finally done and it became clear that Paid in Full was #1, not a peep was heard.

Paid in Full may not have been everyone's choice for #1 over Illmatic (especially for those of us who used to listen to Nas in '94 every day on the bus going to and from high school), but how can you argue with verses like "I take seven MCs, put 'em in a line/ And add seven more brothas who think they can rhyme/ Well, it'll take seven more before I go for mine/ And that's 21 MCs ate up at the same time."

When Paid in Full was released in 1987, Eric B. and Rakim left a mushroom cloud over the hip-hop community. The album was captivating, profound, innovative and instantly influential. We'd been used to MCs like Run and DMC, Chuck D and KRS-One leaping on the mic shouting with energy and irreverence, but Rakim took a methodical approach to his microphone fiending. He had a slow flow, and every line was blunt, mesmeric. And Eric B. had an ear for picking out loops and samples drenched with soul and turned out to be a trailblazer for producers in the coming years.

You couldn't stop repeating, "I came in the door, I said it before/ I never let the mic magnetize me no more," from "Eric B. Is President." "I Ain't No Joke" — where Ra raps about holding the microphone like a grudge — still defines the essence of hard-core hip-hop, without Ra having to rhyme about selling drugs and shooting up a whole city block. If you throw on "Paid in Full" or "Eric B. Is President" today, they'll still grab you by the throat.

Paid in Full set the table for higher achievement in hip-hop, both sonically and poetically. In 1987 and now, almost 20 years later, plenty of MCs are still trying to catch up.

No Argument:

Buttahman: Yeah, I mean, Paid in Full, that's a definite, a no-brainer.




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