Rakim is undeniably one of the best MCs to ever pick up a mic. So imagine being the son of a Hip Hop legend who’s also pursuing a career in the same space; the pressure is undoubtedly intense. But 22-year-old Tahmell Griffin is determined to make his mark — comparisons be damned.
On Friday (July 31), Griffin unveiled his debut studio album Home, a modest 10-track, 35-minute offering intended to showcase his familial ties. He’s beyond appreciative to have the chance to learn from his famous father — but Rakim didn’t exactly hold his hand.
“Growing up with my dad, I was able to always ask questions and pick his brain about his thoughts on what was going on,” Griffin tells HipHopDX. “Then I also had the privilege of opening up during sold-out shows when him and Eric B got back together and experience different lifestyles. My dad is a huge influence to me and he is the bar of where I want to be.
“Now that I’m older, I understand I had the cheat sheet and still do. My dad always give me advice. He also lets me fly too. He lets me make my own mistakes then explain later on why it failed.”
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Griffin admits he’s often asked what it’s like having Rakim as a father but for him, that’s a difficult question to answer.
“Honestly, all I can say is it’s like having my dad there for me all the time,” he adds. “He’s not Rakim to me, he’s dad. I can’t explain what that’s like because all I know is my dad was there for me and always supports me. I’m grateful my dad raised me with tough love. He was getting me ready for the rest of my life.”
As Griffin spits on “Bubble,” Hip Hop is his “calling” and he’s ready for the challenge — he just happened to get a head start. Growing up in Long Island, he was exposed to Big Daddy Kane, Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier and Nas early on, giving wings to his potential.
While speaking at SITE Santa Fe in March, Rakim told Chuck D about his upbringing, and some of the things he said about his father sounds eerily similar to how Griffin grew up.
“I used to go hard with working out for quarterback to reach the next level,” he recalled. “I remember before the season started, like two or three weeks out, I would start running to the high school. You want everybody to see you running down the street, you feel important, like, ‘There goes Ra getting ready for the season.’ I remember getting my little workout on. I remember coming home and Pops would be in the kitchen. I’d be like, ‘Ah, I was just working out Dad.’ He’d say, ‘Did you run backwards?’
“Pops would give me half the story all the time. It was always trivia. I was trying to think of the answer first, because I didn’t want to sound dumb. ‘Nah, Dad, I didn’t.’ ‘Well, you a quarterback right? After you take the snap, how you gonna get back?’ Oooh, OK. So I became one of the illest straight dropback quarterbacks in the game. In the first year after my Pops said that to me, I didn’t get sacked the whole year.”
Armed with the knowledge from his father, Griffin is firmly focused on what looks like a promising future.
Check out Home below.