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.”

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