When Rakim told the world two weeks ago that his collaboration with producer Dr. Dre would be full of surprises, who knew parting ways would be one of them?
The legendary rapper has split from Dre's Aftermath Records, just days after he told MTV News that the album was quickly starting to come together (see "Rakim Says The Wait Is Almost Over; Dr. Dre-Produced LP To Drop Soon").
A statement released by Rakim's manager on the Aftermath Web site announced that the MC and Dre's label, which is distributed by Interscope, have officially parted ways. An Interscope spokesperson confirmed Rakim's departure.
"He's already shopping a new deal," Zach Katz said in his audio statement. "They mutually decided to go their separate ways."
A source at Aftermath told MTV News that the split was based on musical differences and that neither Dre nor Rakim was content with the direction the tracks were going in. There's no word yet on where the Rakim album, tentatively titled Oh My God, will land or whether any of the Dre-produced tracks recorded so far will be included.
Rakim, considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers in hip-hop, signed with Aftermath three years ago after Dr. Dre made public a desire to work with him (see "Rakim Out To Change The Game Again, With Help From Dre"). In that time, Dre has been busy overseeing the careers of Eminem and 50 Cent and working on solo material. Recently he signed Ice Cube and Eve to Aftermath with hopes of producing their upcoming albums.
At the BET Awards in June, Rakim seemed excited that the two had finally found time together in the studio. "Me and Dre, we about to do full-steam on it," Rakim said. "Hopefully we should have a single out towards the end of the summer, and the album will follow shortly after that. We finally got everything on track like we wanted."
For more on Rakim and Dr. Dre in the studio check out "Dr. Dre: At Home In The Studio".