Rakim Explains How To Maintain Longevity In The Game

The Roots' Black Thought also explains how the God MC changed the rap game for other spitters.

Rakim recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his 1987 classic Paid in Full with Eric B. by performing the album in its entirety alongside The Roots and J. Period. Speaking with MTV News, the God MC explained that it’s a “blessing” to have had such longevity in the game.

“It's a blessing to be in the game this long and to have your work recognized after 25 years,” he said. “It's a big thing. The MC's lifespan in the game is maybe seven years, 10 years, 12 years, so to be around and to get respect at this point is a blessing."

The Roots’ Black Thought echoed his sentiments, bigging up Rakim for paving the way for rappers looking inward.

“Pre-Paid in Full, you didn't hear too many records — there were MCs out there, I used to hear some types with MCs rapping about having knowledge of self and dealing with that type of spirituality — but before Rakim, like, pre-Paid in Full, it wasn't out there like that. It was very much still a rarity,” he said. "I'm not saying lyrics or rap was simple or simplistic before that, but the complexity of it, the musicality of it changed after Rakim came out."

RELATED: Rakim & The Roots To Perform "Paid In Full” In New York City



  • ISH


  • Scott Yu

    rakim fell the fuck off longggg time ago.. longetivity??? snoop dogg, ice cube, nas, ice-t these are artists that is still relevant

    • It's the Lyrics Stupid

      Nas still has a little bit of appeal, but that was only because Jay-Z threw him a rope. Snoop? Cube? Ice-T? Nigga pleaze!!! I don't care if you can rhyme over a catchy beat. If you've got some lyrics in your catalog that still make people reach for the rewind button and close their eyes feeling 'em 25 years later, then you are a legend. Rakim's got those lyrics. He hasn't dropped jewels like that in a while, but he did so even more recently than Snoop/Cube/Ice-T. "I came in the door, i said it before I never let the mic magnetize me no more But it's bitin' me, fightin' me, invitin' me to rhyme I can't hold it back, I'm looking for the line, Taking off my coat, clearing my throat My rhyme will be kicking it until I hit my last note My mind'll range to find all kinds of ideas Self-esteem makes it seem like a thought took years to build

  • Anonymous

    The word "commercial" means lets give em more of the same little two step,the bling and the hot bitch in the same video and get them intoxicated off the same weed and liquer.The average fan or youngster now has not even a clue what hip hop is he/she thinks it's all sex,sex,sex!!! We used to party and be socailly aware not clowns. We need to take it forward from where groups like Public Enemy and Rakim left off!!

    • Anonymous

      How motherfuckers can sit, watch and listen to all these mainstream sexy fuck sexed up rappers I'll never it figure out,(forget about the word play) I guess I wouldn't want to, strictly for some females

  • JFranks

    Motherfuck, this is 25 years old?

  • Fuck all you haters

    Dude needs to get back together with Eric B!!!!! Fuck the 90's. Fuck the 00's. Fuck the 10's. Lets all hold hands and enjoy that good shit from the 80's!!!

  • Reality Check

    Relavance? Commercially Viable? You guys sound dumb....no one looks at the mona lisa and says, "damn thats nice but its not relavant or commercially viable." No one reads Mark twain and says that. No one even talks like that unless u work in marketing? WTF is wrong wit yall? I dont remember being little nd listening to my moms old records and being like, "damn, marvin gaye has a nice voice and this song is jammin. Too bad he's not relevant or commercially viable anymore." FOH with that! This is the only generation of hiphop that thinks age and "commerical viability" actually mean anything...Music, lyrics, message, feeling, emotion...those mean something! Stop letting these websites and blogs and radio stations and other propaganda machines tell yall how to think. Hiphop used to mean more than first week sales numbers and chart placement! yall are the ones that fucked the game up along with these asembly line rap acts. Alot of emcees have said this and its true...The fans let the machine feed'em this bullshit to the point we're talking like fucking a&r's and marketing directors. Yall got no loyalty to the artists you like/love unless there chart well or have some kind of "buzz".....I'ma keep it all the way Hiphop till i'm expired! I hope yall drown in the poisonous waters on that swag wave yall surfing, foney ass mu'fuccas. get a life....

    • Rude Morales

      I have mass respect to your statement! One Love, my brutha! I hear a TRUE HipHop Mind speaking. As I motto goes: KEEP IT REAL! KEEP IT HIPHOP!!

    • Anonymous

      YO! by your definition, you are INCORRECT! NO! no one looks at those works of art and denies them, just like no one looks at "Paid N Full" or any of Rakim's other work and denies it. But, do you look at the authors of those very same works of art and talk about how THE AUTHORS are relevant today? NO! Their works of art are just as Rakim's older music is. No one talks about how the Monkeys or even the Beetles have "longevity" although their ART will live forever. The fact of the matter is, when you are blessed to make art that people appreciate, your ART will live forever. But that doesn't make you a relevant artist. COMMERCIALLY VIABLE is the ONLY way to define "longevity" in MUSIC. If Rakim has the equipment to make an album, he can make music until he is 90. So we gonna me talking about how to have longevity in the game after 75 years? C'Mon Son! Go head with that! No one is discrediting the man's discography. But he is not relevant anymore. How many records did the Seventh Seal sell? Like 12,000 copies? smh.

    • Bowski

      Could'nt have said it any better..

    • mcmastermind

      REAL RECOGNIZE REAL! True words of wisdom from a TRUE hip hop head. Thank you for saying that.

    • WORD!

      Listen up you lil punk ass swag bitches, the man above speaks the truth ya heard?

  • Rude Morales

    To all these lollipop, tight ass jean wearin so called MC's, take note and pay homage to a TRUE pioneer of HIP HOP! THis is how it's done. To put powerful lyrics on wax to even this day, can not be touched! RAKIM is a lyrical GOD!!! No debate! These lil Wayne, Drake and all these other fake ass MC followers, you can if you want to try to say, because RAKIM hasn't cut a song or track since his last solo project in 2002. That he isn't on Top of his Game, you are surely mistaken. Take note, RAKIM has cameoed on many tracks since his last solo project, but if you deny he can not hang with these new MCs, go diggin in the crates & CHECK THE TECHNIQUE.

  • Anonymous

    if your not lil wayne and hop on every song or 50 cent bullshitin to make some headlines no one cares and thats a shame rakim needs to dust that mic off and take back hip hop before i take it aways for good http://soundcloud.com/this-j-bird-bitch diss jbird bitch remember that shit

  • jae

    yea he was good back in the day but who is he to talk longevity havent heard anything from him since 2002, jus saying

  • reeL Talk

    Ummmmmm, I hate to break it to you but Rakim is not still relevant, commercially. And he hasn't been for several years, at least since he was signed to Aftermath. This is like what someone else said the other day, rappers don't retire. Rakim is extremely RESPECTED and one of the best to ever do it. But he is not commercially viable or relevant. Now, some folks are gonna comment and say, "you don't have to be commercially successful to be relevant" yata yata yata. What YALL don't think about is, ANYONE CAN MAKE AN ALBUM! ANYONE! So that means Diana Ross can go make an album, the four tops, people from the 50's, 60's, you, me! ANYONE. Does that mean they have longevity? LL Cool J was a pretty good example. For 20 years he had relevant records, charts, videos, etc. Raekwon is the PERFECT example. He took his game to the indie side and still moves units. LONGEVITY means you are still doing it and at a consistent level, not just measuring how long you have been calling yourself "Active"

    • reeL Talk

      COMMERCIAL IS NOT A GENRE OF MUSIC. Commercial simply means that you can sell records. Thats the only definition that I am going by. Look at Common. Look at Nas. Look at LL (previous to the last album). Look at Jay-Z. Look at Snoop. All of these guys have records that you will see on the charts when they release material. Some even still go plat while others go gold. LL hasn't really sold good as of late so his run may be over. Think about hearing music in the background of a commercial or Sportscenter or at a game. Thats what I mean when I say relevant, commercially. To me, snap music, and all that coon music is NOT "relevant" lol.

    • Anonymous

      you kinda make a little bit of sense but the word "commercial" means lets give em more of the same little two step,the bling the hot bitch in the video and get them intoxicated off the weed and liquer. We need to take it forward from where groups like Public Enemy left off!!

  • Anonymous

    Relevance is an interesting concept. Does Rakim put out much music anymore? No. But if he put new music or came into your home town for a show, would you check it out? For sure.

    • Anonymous

      I listen to a lot of hip hop and I don't feel he has been surpassed by many if anyone. And I hear the KGR comparison often, but I don't like KGR on the mic nearly as much as Rakim. He never made a real solo classic, but the song 18th letter for example, is something I could play all day.

    • IRON GOD

      He was the first to "lay it down, well maybe a few others also, with a far more advanced ryhme technique. But personally I feel he has been surpassed by alot of rappers, while "G Rap" has not. While some may feel Rakims past work is unmatched, there's alot of sheep out there who don't know shit their. So a different opinion must be respected

  • Andre Cooper

    Well i see these comments get dumb and dumber............ Being a emcee doesn't mean you need a radio hit....if that was the case tech n9ne still hasn't got radio play and has a following because he stays rooted to hip hop........... Rakim is damn near 50!!!!! And can still go the distance with any emcee!!!!! Radio hit my ass!!!! Go listen to waka r lil b u dumb down muthafuckers!!!!

  • Anonymous

    hear you man but dre gave you false hope,dame now you is a shrink amen.detox yo ass 10ys go

  • Truth Hurts

    Longevity? Rakim did not have that. He is Respected for his past music in the 80's. He ain't doing nothing in the PRESENT. VERY Few artists in any genre can stay relevant and put out new music, well received by a new generation of fans.

    • Andre Cooper

      Let's see where your fav rapper is 10 yrs from now!!!! 25 years and producers(well known) Still fuck wit dude........ Respect the gods of this rap shit!!!

  • insanemacbeth

    there's no doubt, RAKIM is THE GOD EMCEE. and i would agree...that in RAKIM's peak, KOOL G. RAP was the closest, to him.

    • Revolution

      Truth be told, Jay-Z has some jewels in his catalog of lyrics...more in number than Rakim, some more complex (except that Know the Ledge...best of ALL-TIME). But, Rakim is more of that #23 than Jay-Z. He just came in the game at that level and revolutionized it so that anybody else would be viewed as coming from the mold that he cast. Will there ever be another Michael Jordan? Hell no. Michael Jordan came at such a time, even after there had been a Dr. J. The rise of television, the connectedness of the world, the prosperity of the country in the 90's and early 2000's. Perfect storm that you will not see again. The same can be said for Jimi Hendrix in Rock/Blues fusion. The same can be said for Rakim and Hip-Hop. Even though there were some classics that I would kill to defend in the 90's Golden Era, there will never be another MC in this form of Hip-Hop to eclipse Rakim. There needs to be a revolution.

    • trooth

      nigga you just old and lame now...shut the fuck up

    • B

      Rakim & KRS 1 are the best lyricists ever! Half of these mu'fuckas would say jay-z or lil wayne! lmao! yung ass niggaz!! ain't even been thru puberty yet!

  • Anonymous

    Rakim barely gets any notice, did his lsat album even do a thousand, come on i respect the brother i get exausted calling him the god mc and going back to over 17 years when he last dropped a hot verse. Me personally its G Rap, Kane, and KRS1

    • B

      Rap is what u do! Hip Hop is what u live! U need 2 grow up & stop worrying about sales! Some of the hottest rappers ever in the game didn't sell like that. Its not about sales. Soulja Boy went platinum! Does that make him a hot rapper? Does that make him 1 of the greats? HELL NAW!! Grow da fuck up!

    • beezlebud

      an artists goal is NOT to sell records at all, i'm an artist and dont care if I ever sell a single song and Hip Hop is NOT a business it's a CULTURE and your clearly not apart of that culture and therefore shouldnt speak on anything relating to our culture as your clearly ignorant on the subject

    • Anonymous

      @Curtis75Black: Thank God somebody on here know what they talking about.

    • Anonymous

      An artist goal is to sell records. An artist goal is to make music that people want to listen to and Buy. HipHop is a business. No artist wants to put out an cd & their sh!t flop.

    • Curtis75Black

      1st off, its never about sales. Thats a cop out mentioning any emcee. Before the The Seventh Seal, he did drop 2 solo's : The 18th Letter circa 97 and The Master circa 99. They weren't met with much fanfare but they were decent.

  • THE B

    to ever touch the microphone (my bad) but the real headz know what i'm sayin

  • THE B

    KOOL G. RAP KOOL G. RAP KOOL G. RAP...I REPEAT..KOOL G. RAP is the greatest lyricist to ever to the microphone and he has longevity. The most underrated MC ever!!! I never heard anything wack from KOOL G. RAP.

    • Anonymous

      then you didn't listen to his latest album... no disrespect to kool g rap, i agree that he is one of the best who ever done it but that last album was mostly... meh

  • Almar

    Rakim and Black Thought = 2 Of The Of the top 10 best MC's Ever. You May Disagree but I don't Give a Shit.

  • Yup

    Relevance and having a career is too different things. Too many people Wu Tang isn't relevant anymore. But the members still have a career. They go on tour and fans can't wait to see 'em. As far as Rakim. He's The God Mc. He'll always be relevant. Maybe not to the younger generation but to hip hop enthusiasts ("headz") his legacy is his career. He might not be at the height of his popularity right now but I guarantee if he dropped another album he'd still be able to generate a buzz(especially, if he got some Preemo or Just Blaze). He may not sell out arenas but he DEFINETLY still has a following. And as long he (or any artist) has that he has a career. But I do agree, he needs to drop a little more material.

    • Yup

      You know I was watching "When I be on the mic" video just a couple hours ago and I was thinking..."this shit is STILL hot!" If he get a couple hot tracks like that on one collective album...dear lord! That's where my mentality is right now. I know it's been about a decade since THAT song dropped so I definetly understand. But, you know, the industry is all about what they can churn out and sell a million copies of. Ra's content is well beyond the "swag surfin" shit that mainstream is popping off with so I know for an artist who thrives off of pushing poetry with prowess with a pen, the overt bombardment of mainstream hip hop (less lyrical) can be a bit frustrating. Maybe even deflating. But I know he got a love for it. He can't stop loving it.

    • Anonymous

      *and NOT that garbage he had on seventh seal...

    • Anonymous

      basically, i can agree with you. of course his shit IS relevant, because people like you and me still listening to it, and since i'm under 20 years old, i would consider myself as the "younger generation". rakim is relevant on my mp3-player but i think he's not relevant in "the game" because he doesn't put out new stuff... and that's a sad thing because i know he's capable of dropping a monster album if he would just get some proper beats and that garbage he had on sevent seal...

    • Curtis75Black

      Oh, most definitely !! I totally agree but "Don't Sweat The Technique dropped in 92. He's missed a whole new generation of emcee's with that lay off. Shit 2pac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, The Roots, Eminem. Emcee's from every direction of Globe. I compare him to a Boxer or Ball Player who disappears only when to come back when the Comp is slow to none !!

  • Anonymous

    No Disrespect to Rakim, He one Of The Illest to do it, but Longevity?? I'm glad to see him doing his thing now no doubt, but l think the people need material, mixtape, exclusives, something, I don't understand why some of our legends don't put together a business plan and start an indy label... it's too easy nowadays. If these smalltime niggas can open labels in their mom's basement, I'm sure they can afford it... But I see Rakim Doing it in 2011, Now hopefully he stays away from the that industry sound, Hearing Rakim rockin with whats "hot" now will be VERY DISAPPOINTING.

  • Curtis75Black

    As much as I respect Rakim as a lyricist, he's the last emcee to talk about Longevity especially since he disappeared for a decade with no music. That's not longevity. I'll say the same with Sade !! Yes, you've been out since the 80's but for a 10 years, we didn't hear a peep from you. When you do what LL Cool J or KRS has done, then you can speak.

    • Beezlebud

      Actually Andre LL had released 2 or 3 albums before Rakim released his first so I think you'll find LL was the one doing the influencing and KRS I think dropped his 1st before or alongside Rakims 1st so they will of all drawn a lil influence of each other but LL Cool J was already well established when Rakim released his debut and both LL and KRS plus ICE CUBE. Have proven themselves more versatile

    • Andre Cooper

      Yeah he was gone ten years but he doesn't over saturate his music!!!! Like a roast in the oven u gotta give it time to b perfected!!!!! Not like wayne he drops a mixtape every wk!!!!! Rakim been doing this shit and ask ll r krs-one who influenced them.........Rakim

    • Anonymous

      why is everybody talkin that you don't need a hit on the radio to be relevant... i mean, i agree with that, but rakim hasn't dropped ANYTHING, one album in 10 years? come on... an let's be honest: seventh seal was pretty far away from being a good album. so i have to agree that rakim shouldn't talk about longevity. maybe he still makes tours and everything but i think you are not relevant when you put out 14 tracks or so in a decade

    • Yup

      Sade has produced new material and is tour as we speak. I understand where your coming from but having a single on the top of the charts currently doesn't equate to having a career. There's plenty of artists that tour on their past hits that generate revenue for them so they can pay their bills. For them that's maintaining a career and having longevity. Remember, the radio stations only play what's hot but plenty of people have different opinions of what they consider good. So some artists maintain a low key career based on their fan base rather than a high profile career based on popularity

    • beezlebud

      WORD LL COOL J n KRS have consistantly dropped dope music for over 25 years with no breaks in it, that shits real longevity ICE CUBE would be another to note n really their the only 3

  • this guy

    Check your math, it would be 24 years if it came out in 1987.

  • Anomnomnomius

    The artist summary is lulz worthy, I like Rakim but he shouldn't be speaking about longevity.. dude hasn't had a hit in decades

    • Anonymous

      Who doesn't know Rakim?

    • IKR

      Yeah he shouldn't even be discussing about longevity, he's irrelevant to Hip-Hop now and people today probably don't know who he is. Having a radio hit every couple years will keep you in the game. #FACT

    • Anonymous

      stfu a radio hit is irrellevent fool, go listen to your bullshit mainstream music n mediocre mcs

  • Raidtimedope


  • Nike Champ 718

    Rakim and Kane changed lyricism forever.

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