Rakim’s “Paid In Full” Might Be The Classic of All Classics

On one of my hour or longer drives to make something positive happen in my life, I wanted some theme music. On this day, the choice was Eric B. and Rakim’s album, Paid In Full. That was definitely my mindset on the way to my destination and it felt fitting.

What changed about this particular listen was the connection on just how far ahead of the rap music curve Eric B. and Rakim were on this album. I heard this album before. A few times. I knew it was classic already. But this last listen, really felt like a legit history lesson of where a great number of hip-hop moments came from.

Paid In Full may be the Classic Rap Album of All Classic Rap Albums ever! There is literally not many years that go by without an artist, song or album being influenced by this album. Why I would put it over a Biggie or Pac album as far as influence is because Paid In Full came out in 1987 and was a benchmark they both had to meet or exceed to get thrown into the conversation of greatness with Rakim. That means for 30 years this album has influenced and inspired some of the greatest ever at their craft and even a few things outside of hip-hop.

The only way to really help people understand why this album is so important, is to run a checklist in no order of how many definite times Paid In Full was inspiration, borrowed or interpolated since 1987.

  • Big Pun sampled “I Ain’t No Joke” for the hook to “Tres Leches with Prodigy and Inspectah Deck.
  • “You smack me and I’ll smack you back” was said by PMD and has been recognized as a response bar to Rakim on “I Ain’t No Joke”.
  • “The name is Jay Guevara, homie, who are you and Your offbeat DJ? If anything he play, sound familiarI’ll wait ’til Pharrell say, (“Lame…”) Now I have to diss you, Joe You can get a smack for that…” Said by Jay Z on Uncle Murda’s “He asked for it”. Original scheme from Rakim’s “I Ain’t No Joke”
  • Yasiin Bey [Mos Def] got most of his hook for “Love” from  Verse 1 of “I Know You Got Soul”
  • Canibus got his hook for 2000 B.C from the beginning of “I Know You Got Soul”
  • Lil Kim and Puff Daddy/Diddy used bars from Verse 2 of “I Know You Got Soul” for a breakdown in “No Matter What People Say”
  • “Pump Up The Volume” by M/A/R/R/S is sampled from “I Know You Got Soul. It’s a pop/dance record.
  • Nas and Eminem both borrowed the name spelling cadence from “As The Rhyme Goes On” “I’m the R-A to the K-I-M. If I wasn’t then Why would I say I am?”
  • “I don’t like to dream about getting paid” used by Warren G on “This DJ”. Taken from the song “Paid In Full”
  • “I don’t like to dream about getting paid” used as a song on Tha Dogg Pounds debut album featuring Nate Dogg. Inspired by the “Paid In Full” Song
  • Nas used the “Paid In Full” Remix beat for his first Roc-a-fella diss
  • “I got the pen, you got the paper, a CD, a tape, I Sign it then leave it to get a nice big plate of Fish, which is my favorite dish But without y’all, I couldn’t kick it like this” – Bow Wow/JD.  Scheme taken from Rakim’s song Paid In Full.
  • King Combs and CYN used “Paid In Full” for their cypher debut
  • Eminem took the “7 Emcees scheme” from “My Melody” for “I’m Back”
  • Pusha T’s opening bars on “Grinding” is borrowed from My Melody”
  • A Tribe Called Quest used “Why Waste Time on the Microphone” from My Melody for “We Can Get Down”
  • Prodigy’s “P’s thug enough to rep QB from Long Island” bar from “Nickel and A Nail” is inspired by Rakim’s 5th Verse on “My Melody”
  • Teairra Mari refreshed the sample of “My Melody” for her debut single, “Make Her Feel Good”
  • J Period and Q-Tip remade “Eric B. is President”
  • I came in the door, I said it before from “Eric B. Is President” is one of the most used bars by emcees and DJ’s
  • Taking off my coat, clearing my throat used by 2Pac on “I Got My Mine Made Up”
  • You can argue Nas Illmatic doesn’t sound the same lyrically if Paid In Full Never Drops
  • Paid In Full the movie, may be named something different if the classic album never drops.

So that was a solid undeniable 23 right there. This is my bonus one in question form. Was the phrase “Dead Presidents” used before this album? Remember, this is written and recorded in 1986 and dropped July 7, 1987. I can’t say I remember hearing that from any other rapper or drug dealer at the time. OG’s educate me if I’m giving Rakim too much credit.

This is all coming from just 1 Erick B. and Rakim album. This album was ahead of it’s time lyrically as well as with cadence and flows. It’s one of the first undeniable culture impacting and game changing albums. This album is what classics are made of. 30 Years later and young boys who literally were not alive when this album dropped are pulling from it to make records for it today. 30 years and some of the greatest names in hip-hop culture and rap music ever have taken from this album.

Is Eric B. and Rakim’s album Paid In Full the classic of all classics? I’m starting to think it’s no way it can’t be.

Be Safe. Be Humble. Live Hip-Hop.

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