Throughout his 25-plus year career, fans and artists alike have garnered Rakim with extensive amounts of praise for his craft. Now, the legendary Long Island emcee returns the accolades to one of Hip Hop’s biggest current icons, Kanye West.
In a recent interview with The Atlantic, the God Emcee praised Kanye West as both an artist and a member of the Hip Hop community. He said that Yeezy’s deft as both a producer and emcee has helped him take Hip Hop in new a unique directions. Ra also added that even Ye’s notorious outbursts are signs of his devotion to music.
“I love Kanye for that. Being a producer, making beats, and being a rapper. He does it all,” he explained. “Now, sometimes somebody can give you a credible track. But when you’re searching for records or samples, only you know in your mind, in your intuition or your first instincts, what you need. When you hear that record, there’s no denying it – ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to sample this.’ And he has that situation where he’s lucky enough to love rhyming but can make his own beats, and that’s like the perfect match. When he plays a record, his mind is on it right away. So, being able to do that and the way he does it, Kanye is not afraid to reach…like, ‘Jesus Walks’ is one of my favorite Kanye songs. To this day, that song comes on, and I want to turn it all the way up. I don’t want nobody to talk to me. I just want to enjoy that track, you know what I mean? A lot of tracks he does, he’s not afraid to go out the box where a lot of rappers might say, ‘Oh, I’mma do my 16 bars.’ Kanye just does whatever the track tells him to do—and that comes from being a rapper and being a producer at the same time.”
He added, “You feel that in the award shows stuff where Kanye has these episodes, right? It’s because he’s passionate. If a lot of us don’t take it that serious, then it’s not going to be serious no more. People say, ‘That was his opinion, but he was so passionate about it,’ like that’s bad. You’ve got to say, ‘Well, really?’ We need that. We need the media to know that some of us are really passionate about music…we need a few more Kanyes, people that’s really passionate about Hip Hop and who keep it alive.”
Back in 2007, Rakim and Kanye famously collaborated on the song “Classic” with DJ Premier, Nas and KRS-One in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Nike Air Force 1 sneaker.