Release Date: Nov 17, 2009
Record label: SMC
Rakim :: The Seventh SealRa Records/SMC RecordingsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon2008's "Live, Lost & Found" was the appetizer, and after keeping us at the table for a year, Rakim has returned with "The Seventh Seal" to give us the main course. Some things have changed in the interim and some haven't. The God has his own website now and a new partnership with SMC that sees "The Seventh Seal" getting wide distribution both online and offline - in fact I found this album at Best Buy for $9.99.
A new Rakim album should be a big deal-- or at least a bigger deal than this. Talking about the man's career, it's hard not to lapse into hyperbole, to talk like he invented rap, because in some ways he kind of did. The things that make rap what it is in 2009 existed in various forms back in 1986, when Rakim's career launched, but Rakim isolated, elevated, streamlined, and developed them.
Declining relevancy is invariably a problem faced by any aging rapper -- what matters is how the rapper in question handles it. Will Smith, Reverend Run, and Ice-T reinvented themselves with ease, but the other MCs who helped pioneer hip-hop have tried to do the same with tragically mixed results. Big Daddy Kane hasn't released an album in 11 years.
Rakim Allah (who I’ll refer to in a number of ways throughout this review) will always be known as one of the best to ever do it. His legacy can withstand even the most deadly blows to an artist, from album delays, of which he has suffered many, to a less-than-dynamic stage presence. Although he’s never done it, the God MC could even make an ass of himself in a slew of interviews.
RAKIM “The Seventh Seal” (Ra/SMC) For most rappers it would be presumptuous to instruct “How to Emcee,” as Rakim does in the opening track of “The Seventh Seal,” his first album since 1999. But far more than most hip-hop boasters, Rakim is entitled. In the mid-1980s, teamed with the disc jockey Eric B., Rakim revolutionized hip-hop by raising every technical parameter: replacing simple chants with shifty syncopated rhythms, adding internal rhymes within couplets, using far more polysyllables than profanities and introducing a verbal density that led hip-hop to its intellectual peak.