Rakim Says He Will Never Cater To Hip Hop Trends, Speaks On "The Seventh Seal"

The God MC says his last album was an attempt at a "conscious" release and that he's ready to get back to having fun on his next LP.

With his most recent release The Seventh Seal dropping in 2009, Rakim faced some criticism for the album’s content and aesthetic, a chance he knew he was taking. Speaking with splash! Mag TV, the God MC explained that he didn’t let fans’ negative reactions to the album get to him and that he would never sacrifice his style to adapt to the times.

“You care about it, but you don’t let it do nothing to you. It’s rap, it’s an album, some people will like it, some people won’t. Hip Hop is so diverse and mixed right now, you have a lot of fans who like radio-friendly Hip Hop. I don’t do that. You have a lot of fans who like pop Hip Hop. I don’t do that. You got a lot of fans that like different styles,” he said. “I’m from my era, I’m known for doing a certain kind of music. I don’t want to switch off and do what Lil Wayne is doing. That ain’t Rakim. I can’t switch off and do what Wiz Khalifa’s doing. That’s not Rakim. It’s hard trying to keep up with what’s going on and still keep your integrity and keep your logo and your brand of who you are with these times. I made a statement. Definitely wanted to bring about that awareness with a conscious album.”

The Seventh Seal, which bowed at No. 61 on the Billboard 200 with 12,000 copies sold in its first week, was Rakim’s attempt to make what he claims is a “conscious album.”

“I wanted to do a conscious album. There’s zero conscious in the hood right now, zero conscious in Hip Hop right now. But as far as Rakim, I had to do what I felt people expected from me, made a big statement. It’s good that I got that off my chest. Now, I can get back in the studio and have a little fun and not worry about having so many responsibilities and weight on my back.”

Watch the rest of the interview below.

RELATED: Rakim Explains How To Maintain Longevity In The Game

77 Comments

  • swype-matic

    So basically Rakim put out an album that was pretty top notch lyrically, like an 8 or 9, but the beats may have been like a 7, and people called it "trash"? Are these the same people that call Thank Me Later and any of the Carter's "near classics"?

  • .....................................................

    I don't know about the whole album being wack euphoria was a good track.

  • oskamadison

    If Rakim drops 10 trash albums in a row, IT DOESN'T MATTER. Dude's place in Hip-Hop and his legacy has already been set. He will still be one of the greateset to ever do it. Yes, The Seventh Seal could have been better but was it total garbage? Not. If anything, it was a rebound from The Master, by far, my least favorite album of his. Other than the Nick Wiz joints, the production was lacking and besides that very questionable appearance from Maino, those awful hooks put a damper on things but overall? There's way wacker shit out there than that album. Only thing I would suggest to Ra is that he update his style a little bit and find better production. Don't get it twisted though, kids: whoever your favorite MC is, he was probably influenced either by him or someone else who was influenced by him. Don't front...

  • Anonymous

    Gotta love Rakim for what he did for hip hop, for changing the game back in '87, just for being the God MC, and for still sticking around because of his love for hip hop and not $$$... But he said there's no consciousness in hip hop??? He must have never heard of Jay Electronica.

  • Anonymous

    he needs better production mic wise he still has it

  • Diz

    Rakim used to be the man, but let's be real. His climax was the first album. After that it was all down hill and that's with Eric B and solo. I tried to roll with him album after album, but something was always missing. Much respect, but you can still do your thing and stay relevant. don't need a million feature from current artist, just keep doing...and the last time I checked, none of his first three albums were conscious..but his best work!

  • Papa Don

    95 Is over time for yall Old niggas to sit down

    • Acesun

      That's the problem right now, you 80's babies don't pay homage and think that yall the first to bless the mic when many, many talented ones have done it before you. Shut the hell up and stop calculatin niggaz ages and rap with substance instead of doing monkey see monkey doo business. Yall killing the art form.

    • Benjeem Sampson

      43 years old isn't "old..." It's "classic..." Something these new jacks lack.

    • Sensaye252

      You ARE one of them old niggas.

  • J

    I feel like Rakim just recorded the album really quick and called it good even though he had been mostly inactive for like 10 years. It seemed pretty clear that he had no idea how anticipated the album was to hip hop heads

    • Schweinepriester Helmut Smith

      True. He made the album for his fans (without thinking about of trying to gain new fans) but forgot, that his fans listen to other shit in 2011 - so they have high expectations.

  • Schweinepriester Helmut Smith

    Why should Rakim change his philosophy and opinion? This dude is always icecold on the mic and came out in a time where rhyming was essential, not the beats. Maybe he should have some other producers underline his product, but Rakim should stay Rakim. It´s like he said some people will buy your shit, some won´t. If I want to hear Rakim, I listen to his old stuff and enjoy. He is a legend.

  • Jay

    Yea, like everyone else is saying here.... that last album = garbage. It's not the consciousness the fans didn't like, it was the trash production and lame features like Maino that disappointed us. RA is a legend but this last album proved that he's be away from the game too long and a bit out of it.

  • insanemacbeth

    long live THE GOD EMCEE. BUT...i agree with most of the posts, here. RAKIM doesn't seem to have what i call 'edge' anymore. good hip-hop usually has that 'edge'.

  • jason

    This pathetic has-been is just mad about Weezy running hip-hop and nobody remembers his old washed up ass

    • lol

      wayne himself would slap you for saying that

    • Warlord

      You mean 11 year-old bum bitchez who don't know shit about Hip-Hop like you don't remember him. Ficcin crack baby. Blame ur mother for not swallowing you pussy. Wezy don't run shit but Drake's asshole

  • LJbigbang

    I did enjoy The Seventh Seal. The main thing, if anything, he compromised was production. Need plenty of Premo, maybe some Kanye (College Dropout, soulful Kanye, I mean).

  • Spyridon

    Man... I'm a huge fan of Rakim, but it's crazy that he's saying things like he wont change for the trends and he wants to be him.... Seventh Seal was NOT the Rakim we all know! He DID change... that's why his fans are upset.

    • Spyridon

      @LOL What do you mean whats so crazy? The crazy part is hes talking like he didnt change but he DID change!

    • 1700 or Nuthin

      Defenda you got my 100 votes

    • Defenda

      What's crazy..is how he actually said there is ZERO conscious in Hip Hop right now. Sorry Rakim, I have all the respect in the world for you but u r dead wrong on that one. In fact some underground Hip Hop artists/groups these days are so conscious they base their whole entire being on it. Everything- every line, every concept, every theme, every song, every album on some SUPER CONSCIOUS shit. Seems Rakim ain't got his ear to the street these days, at least the parts that matter..shame

    • LOL @ these comments

      And what's so crazy? He doesn't want to be a following, dickriding, bandwagon emcee?

  • micheal White

    The God has always been nice,he just needs production that compliments his various rhyme topics.The Seventh Seal wasn't his best offering...neither was "The Master".There is a wish list of well known beat masters we"true" fans would love to see work with Ra,here is mine-Marco Polo, Statik Selektah,Easy Mo Bee,Large Professor,NOID,Q-Tip & DJ PREMIER!!

    • Anonymous

      I think Ra should do a collaboration album with ill- mind...something fresh, for an artist thats been around awhile! but the above mentioned is still what we need and expect!

  • Anonymous

    7th Seal was straight trash, its Ra's only bad album. All his other albums are 10/10s

  • Anonymous

    Rakim is one of the original gods of lyricism, but true Rakim fans got to admit that the 7th seal was a piece of shit compared to what we expect from Rakim. After Let the rhythm hit em he was losing his touch. I know us "True" Rakim fans hate to admit it, but the 7th seal was garbage what ever the reason was. In case anyone was interested...The 3 gods of lyricism are Kool G. Rap, KRS-ONE, Rakim.

    • Bowski

      I totally agree w/you even though talking about Rakim is damn near forbidden, but none of his albums since "The 18th Letter" have been up to par w/what Rakim fans expect, & I'm not just talking production-wise either.

  • Anonymous

    the REALEST. big ups to Rakim. one love

  • Hip Hop Lives

    Rakim's strength really ain't conscious lyricism. His strength has always been semi-battle boastful lyricism. But like so many other great rappers from the golden era (the late 80s), without a dope dj Ra hasn't been successful. When krs one lost scott la rock krs' songs weren't as good, and it's the same with chuck d losing terminator x, kool g rap losing dj polo, ll cool j losing cut creator, and the list goes on. Don't get me wrong, krs remained a dope mc, but criminal minded was by far his best album.

    • The B

      Edutainment, Blueprint & Sex & Violence was way better that criminal minded! And G. Rap only gets better with time & always been the best...Dickhead do the knowledge!!!!!

    • LOL @ these comments

      1. "In The Ghetto" is semi-battle boastful lyricism? "Paid In Full"? "Juice"? I think you need to go back and listen to a lot of Ra's songs. 2. Ced Gee was responsible for a lot of "Criminal Minded" music, he & Scott La Rock. And KRS did a whole lot of better music after Scott died. Kenny Parker and Premier hooked him up. 3. The Bomb Squad made PE's beats, not Terminator X. Did Ice Cube come from NWA to work with Terminator? No 4. Cut Creator was a show dj, like Hurricane was to the Beastie Boys. Rick Rubin did LL's early music. 5. Marley Marl, Eric B & Large Pro did Kool G Rap's music, not Polo. So what's the point? That they fell off once they cut the dead weight? LOL

    • Powerphi

      You make a very interesting point, even for those DJ's who were not really producers.

  • Anonymous

    What a jackass-- Rakim hasn't been shit since Eric B. took the dookie ropes away. Whatever his bullshit 'reasons,' R. has been a retarded version of his former brilliant self since "Don't Sweat The Technique." So he CHOSE to suck, is that it?

    • Thought Police

      C'mon son! There were some jewels on "The Master" AND "The 18th Letter". He had one of the best hip hop R&B collabos of all time that I still rock on "Addictive" with Truth Hurts, not to mention the dopest Soundtrack single of all time in "Know The Ledge" from Juice; you are missing at least 10 years of your Hip Hop history and some hits before that. He just needs a team to put together a classic, no B-side tracks CD.

  • Anonymous

    7th seal was weak. Pete rock Primo Clark Kent Nick Wiz Havoc (maybe) Thanks it

  • Mark

    Do you Rakim. That's why you're still around. It's cause you are God Centered. I liked the beats on 7th seal. Keep creating!

  • RIOTLIFE

    Dear Ra, it wasnt the consciousness or the content, it was wack beat selection and sometimes lazy rhymes that killed your record. get some dope producers next time, a lil more effort and youll be straight... we all be waiting! keep the positivity and spread knowledge cause thats what u do best. Sincerely, a day one die hard fan

  • s to the u

    I think with the right team behind him, he could get back to acheiving greatness once again. Like any boxer or professional athlete you only win with a winning team behind you, and not any "yes" men. I mean you look at rakim's networth or salary, it would be hard to believe that this man is responsible for the evolution of mcing and hip hop itself. I think fans of Nas, Wutang etc would very much agree!!

  • Anonymous

    and dr dre wanted him to write bullshit about shootin and wack hood shit thats why he left smh at dre

  • JG

    7th sela wasnt the illest shit, but its still music that i can vibe and chill to. When you been in the game this long and dropped all those dope albums I think its ok for you to step back from focusing on the so calle d"hiop hop clasic" and just make the music you wanna make

  • lol

    Nigga look like a dope fiend in both pictures on this page...

  • big mike

    this dude is like a bunch drunk BOXER talking about theirs zero conscious in Hip Hop right now...NAS DAMIAN MARLEY,MOS DEF,talib kweli, KENDRICK LAMAR,immortal technique,J COLE, jay electronica,krs one buckshot survival skills...this nigga went CRAZY!!!!!!! GO AWAY!!!!! its over!!!!

  • Marco Saavedra

    niggas just dont know what they want from these rap legends

  • Sensaye252

    To me, Rakim is top five dead or alive without question. With that said, "The Seventh Seal" was wack. The beats, the rhymes, the ideas...everything about the album was weak. Rakim just doesn't know how to be ferocious anymore. It's like...I don't know...he just doesn't have it anymore. His flow is just so basic and predictable now, with nothing behind it. It's like watching a great boxer who lost all his speed and just can't get around the ring anymore. I'll always love the God though.

    • Thought Police

      Agreed. Top five dead or alive. You mentioned the pieces, but you didn't connect the dots. The vocals are only one instrument in the band. Put Rakim on with the right producers on the right tracks, and he'll be delivering knockouts once again. I think the absence of that ensemble is partly a reflection on the industry (cost prohibitive), and partly Rakim's choice to maintain complete control of his brand. There are a lot of legendary artists who have so-so albums in their catalogs that can be chopped up to their own choices as opposed some indication of an erosion of skills. Buckshot and 9th Wonder is a model that Rakim can fit into. Lots of independent production, and lots of hits.

  • SutterKane

    A Real artist is suppose to do what THEY FEEL IS RIGHT and not give a fuck what anybody says Who cares about the Pop Crowd, or the Underground crowd, or anybody, just do you and if nothing else you'll be satisfied with yourself Breaking your back for the acceptance of "Real Hip Hop Heads" is just as pathetic as breaking your back for the aceptance of the radio audience...... Rakim has nothing left to prove to anybody. he should just be making the music that he wants to make, fuck another mans opinion, if your not enjoying yourself why still do it??

    • Jersey

      That only goes so far. There's even conflict in Ra's own statement: "But as far as Rakim, I had to do what I felt people expected from me, made a big statement."

  • beezlebud

    I love Rakim and also love what is being passed off as "conscious" rap but 7th seal didnt cut it for me on any level, his barrs just werent on point, his rhyme schemes werent as intricate his vocab wasnt as complex and the content wasnt the greatest either it really felt like watchin a boxer tryna make a comeback who was a shadow of his former self, a far cry from the 18th letter and his earlier work I jus wish Stoupe would of said yea lets do it n produce an entire Ra album back in the day hopefully he'll come back raw with more esoteric content complex vocab and some of that "ill bus em you punish em" aggression

  • Real2Real

    Really, who cares about the opinions of today’s rap fans? Today’s generation are full of dick riding yes men, they’ll co-sign anything as long as it has a good beat, a bubblegum hook, and a techno like beat, don’t get shit twisted, I’m a young dude, but I really despise my generation, my generation and the one below mine are idiots, who’ll sell their souls just to fit in, no one like being themselves anymore, nor have any depth in their personalities, it’s all about what someone else is doing or wearing. Everything’s “swag this, swag that” hopefully as we age my generation and the one under us will mature, until then we’re fucked.

  • Caucasian Rockwell

    Seventh Seal is ILL! working for you satisfaction guaranteed How to Emcee Holy Are you Documentary of a Gangsta & yeah "Walk These Streets" ...that joint is DOPE!!!

  • blackula

    7th Seal sounded like the right time for Ra to gracefully bow out. That album was booty sauce. Not a good album at all by his standards. He is the God MC so maybe i'll give him one more shot to come through with something great. He needs a bigger budget to work with though, than he had on 7th Seal. The production on that was cardboard.

  • Papa Don

    Hip hop is like wrestling old retired rappers past there time goes overseas to get love similar to american wrestlers going to new japan

    • Thought Police

      We gotta learn to appreciate our treasures and elder statesmen of Hip Hop; True that...not saying that you don't. Gotta wonder why they get love overseas and not at home. I'm listening 90 percent of the time to artists that were dead before I was even born...think I can name the source of every Hip Hop sample by now. Lol. When we see artists like KRS, Rakim, or Jay-Z still putting out hits, that should make us proud, considering their humble beginnings. Masters of their craft. When they miss the mark, feedback should still be valuable, and not just represented by sales. I put a lot of time, money, and energy into Hip Hop. Long live this shit!

    • Robert ProfessorNumark Watts

      that's the disrepectful shit I'm talking about. rock stars in their 50s, 60s, and 70s still get loved and respected in music. rappers get to 40, and their old, washed up, booty, wack, and every other title given. I'm sure Ra can rhyme circles around Papa Don's favorite emcees, then go overseas and get that foreign money.....lol

  • AWAKE IN THE MATRIX

    rakim is real hip hop mc yo keep that attitude up cuz thats how everybody should be stay loyal to your fans people like talib kweli can learn from you. my dream album would be if RAKIM,BIGDADDYKANE,G Rap,and KRS 1 teamed together that would kill everything. let peterock and premo do the beats you cant go wrong

  • Google

    The God Mc is on life support right now if I was him I would go get some ghostwriters ( Joell Ortiz,Fred the god son , Mysonne) and go find the illest boom bap beats in new york and just go ham but he wont so he's done Rip...if you guys feeling nostaligic go pic up follow the leader.

  • nignog

    7th seal sucked, but fuck it, he's released one bad album and been in the game for 25+ years, looking forward to any new material

  • Thought Police

    Rakim is still and will always be Ill, but these remarks were just excuses. To say that it's the listeners' problem if you as an artist miss the target is a copout. Yeah, I want lyrics, I want flow, and I want music...something I'm gonna bump in the ride or at the gym in my ear. You're not writing columns for a newspaper, making throwaway pieces, you are in the music/entertainment industry, supposedly making music with staying power, not footnotes. Save that kind of shit for the mixtape. If people weren't entertained by you're work, then it is what it is. I'm 39 now, well educated, and very selective about who I listen to in Hip Hop. Come back hard and I'll cop that shit.

    • Thought Police

      Profanity is an effective communicative device where word economy is a factor. I pursued a music education for personal enrichment AFTER completing Masters level secular education. Don't be a parrot.

    • Thought Police

      Perhaps you're right thought dog, I'm gonna keep it moving regardless. If he comes out with something hot, I'll cop it. But while you're bullshitting, I'm a beast on the guitar strings since hip hop went the way of the bitches. Certified through Berklee College of Music. You'd better look out for MY shit!

    • Anonymous

      if u were well educated u wouldnt use profane language.

    • Thought Police

      Yeah, I respect that too. I don't respect the comments. He basically came off like his legions of fans had no basis for having expectations for Seventh Seal. Cats were starving from some shit that they could bump WITH all of that consciousness that he talked about. That's what he's known for...just like KRS! If I'm suddenly put in a category of people who "just didn't get it", or that it was over my head, who was it for? He's suggested that my ears are now calibrated for artists that I never have and never will give the time of day.

    • thought dog

      Thought Police - Your opinion don't mean shit dog.

    • Papa Don

      I Respect that but Rakim got his own lane he wanna follow i mean it is what it is if thats what he wants to do then hey let go all for it

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