Rakim is notoriously tight lipped about his personal life and doesn’t do too many interviews. But on Thursday (September 26), the God MC sat down with The Breakfast Club to discuss his new book, Sweat The Technique: Revelations On Creativity From The Lyrical Genius, and drop several gems about his life and career.
During the conversation, the tenured Hip Hop legend spoke about his origins, how his role as a football player helped him as an MC and the rumor he wrote “Summertime” for DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.
Below are five takeaways from the interview.
He Once Pushed Back Against Marley Marl’s Advice
“As much respect as I have for Marley and [MC] Shan, I kind of, at that time, knew what was best for me. In the beginning, I was barking a little bit. Style was alright. As I got a little older and started understanding who I was and trying to be as natural as I can, it was natural for me to mold into my own shape and be me. It was against the grain. Everybody else was kind of yellin’. I just felt like that’s who I was. I was hoping I wasn’t making a bad decision.”
He continues, “Marley, he was cool with it. I remember in the studio, I was sitting on the couch and I started rapping. He let the rhyme get almost to the end and he stopped the music. He’s like, ‘Yo, why don’t you get up and try to put a little more energy in it?’ Stopped it again, like ‘You sound alright, but why don’t you try standing up?’ I was like, ‘Marley if I stand or if it sit, it’s gonna sound the same.’ At that point, I realized what he was trying to do and it made me more defensive. Looking back, I’m glad I did it.”
His Role As A Quarterback Helped His Rhymes
View this post on Instagram
Rakim – #KnowTheLedge 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 #ericbandrakim #ericb #rakim #microphonefiend #hiphop #love #dj #emcee #graffiti #breakdance #culture #life #rappers #rapmusic #lyricist #musician #visionary #RakimAllah #TheGodMC #GodMC #The18thLetter #RealHipHop #hiphop #KidWizard #PaidInFull #TheMaster #The7thSeal #freestyle#rap #newyork
“Being a quarterback will teach you how to have confidence, how to be a leader on the field, you gotta be able to give your team confidence, too. Somehow I was able to do that — won a couple championships and things of that nature. had a good little experience with that. I think just trying to be in the moment knowing that you have a lot to control and you gotta lot of responsibilities on the field. Nothing happens unless you do your job. It was one of them things where it built a lot of confidence in me. I was pretty good, so that helped.”
He Caught A Gun Charge At 12 Years Old
“Where I grew up, I was pretty much known. I had a couple of brothers and sisters that kind of paved the way. I was Lil’ Griff. I was also a little wild. I caught my first gun charge at 12.”
He adds he carried the gun “everywhere.” and “explains “at that time, I am rapping and I hanging out with people that are in high school and college, going all over Long Island and some places in New York.”
No, He Didn’t Write “Summertime” For Will Smith
“Will owe me for that,” he says with a chuckle. “He stole that. Word up. Nah [I didn’t write that]. I used to play with people too. I used to say, ‘Will still owe me money.’ I remember the first day I heard it, it came on and it was track that me and Eric had in the library “Summer Madness.” I was like, ‘Ah, man. Somebody already got it.’ Then he started rhyming and I was like [looks around]. I listened and right away I got the bittersweet thing where I was glad my style was resonating with people … then right away, it’s like, ‘Man, that’s my style.’ It was a bittersweet feeling.”
The Teachings Of The Five-Percent Gave Him More Confidence Than Hip Hop
“The teachings of the Five Percent,” he said. “That right there … there was a time in the early 80s … 81 or 82. Remember I had the gun charge at 12 and a couple other incidents, I got to a point where I knew I needed guidance. I needed something to keep me in line. I thought about Job Corp. I tried to join Zulu Nation. And then shortly after Zulu, I met somebody that had knowledge of self. Once I got that, it helped answer all my questions.”