When emcee extraordinaire Rakim and his right-hand man, producer Eric B., arrived on the scene in the mid-Eighties, they ushered in a revolution. Before them, acts like RUN DMC and LL Cool J were rap’s vanguard – rock-solid leading man types who built their songs around bold, direct declarations. Rakim dared to dream bigger. A sophisticated, cerebral character, he explored unheard-of levels of wordplay in his lyrics, packing each line with internal rhymes and complex syllable patterns that fans and fellow artists spent weeks analyzing. The two friends from Long Island were barely out of their teens when they recorded their debut single, “Eric B Is President” (1986). Eric B. looped up a hard-hitting, funky James Brown sample, setting the stage for Rakim to unspool three verses of inspired poetry: “I came in the door/I said it before/I never let the mic magnetize me no more/But it’s biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme…” That endlessly quotable song scored them a major-label deal in no time. They emphatically delivered on its promise with their first LP, Paid In Full (1987), and continued to sharpen their skills on Follow The Leader (1988), the tougher-sounding Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em (1989) and their swan song, Don’t Sweat The Technique (1992). All four albums were hugely influential – it is difficult to imagine contemporary stars like Jay-Z and Eminem existing at all without them. Eric B. & Rakim parted ways after six years as a duo, but the body of work they created in that time remains monumental.