So it’s not as well known as Q-Tip’s struggle in the 2000s, but it has also been ten years since the last Rakim release. And as one of the illest emcees to ever grab a mic, that’s a shame. I had the good fortune of seeing him perform at SXSW a few years ago, and he had the audience eating out of his hand. It shouldn’t take that long to get thing right. I feel like we’ve failed hip hop when we let things like this happen. Let’s take a listen, shall we? The album starts off strong, with Rakim teaching everyone “How To Emcee,” with a great funky guitar driven track laid down by Slyce. Unfortunately, the album falls off already by the second track, with a cheesy R&B hook and a weak verse by Maino. “Documentary of a Gangsta,” also suffers with bad hooks and weak production that had me worried for the state of Rakim. We started off so strong - what happened? “Man Above” adds cheesy contemporary Gospel with bad keyboards - say it ain’t so, Rakim. Don’t get me wrong, Rakim’s verses aren’t bad, it’s everything surrounding it. Maybe there’s still hope for this album? I really want this to succeed. “You and I” seems to get us back on track - solid hook, good beat, focused rhymes. “Wont’ Be Long” almost succeeds as a song, if it wasn’t for the hook, which I’m pretty sure contains a sample of Usher going “Oh!” Even if it’s not him, shame on you Jake One for even making me thing it. “Holy Are You” almost becomes preachy and cheesy, at least at the beginning, but it salvages itself and turns out to be a pretty good Five Percenter song. Okay, a few songs later, and we’re doing pretty good. I think we might have a second half salvation of this album. That is until, we get to “Psychic Love,” with some pretty weak rhymes about sex. Come on, Rakim, you’re better than this. Okay, “Still in Love” is pretty good. But then, just when I thought we were gonna break even, we end the album on a weak joint with a weak No Doubt sample. So, really, we have one killer track and a handful of good songs that get lost against some really weak material. Not exactly how I’d want to end a ten-year hiatus, but hey, he finally got something out there. Hopefully the path will be easier now, and we can get a stronger effort with better production next time. Please?
|Title:||Rakim - The Seventh Seal|