Author Topic: Rakim - The 18th Letter  (Read 642 times)

On The Edge of Insanity

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Rakim - The 18th Letter
« on: June 05, 2003, 10:48:29 AM »
Rakim - The 18th Letter
Universal Records
1997

After a hiatus from the rap game following the break-up of his partnership with Eric B, Rakim came back in 1997 with his first solo album. Although there wasn't really much commercial hype around the album, hiphop heads worldwide had been waiting for this album for years and the single Guess Who's Back basically summed it all up, Rakim was back and he was hear to stay.

Intro

The 18th Letter - the first track on the album, and it's a pretty tight track. Father Shah drops a nice beat with a dope sample of a woman singing interspersed into the offering. Rakim comes with his normal laid back style flow and drops heats. A good way to start the album. 4/5

Skit

It's Been A Long Time - this track is straight classic. Premier drops a trademark beat and Rakim brings nothing but dopeness, opening with:
"Follow procedures, the crowd couldn't wait to see this, nobody been this long awaited since Jesus".
The dopeness is compounded by the signature Premo scratched hook, using Rakim's voice from "I Know You Got Soul" to brilliant effect. This track is just straight hiphop. 5/5

Remember That - this track is basically an ode to the old days, with Rakim spitting heat over an excellent Clark Kent production. Rakim talks about life back in the day, and the multitude of samples really make the track sound as if it was created in the period he raps about. Another dope track. 4/5

The Saga Begins - the stellar lineup of producers continues with Pete Rock dropping by to lace Ra with this dope beat built around an eerie piano loop. Rakim just sounds so smooth over this beat as if he is at one with the track, and the scratched hook just finishes the track off perfectly. 5/5

Skit

Guess Who's Back - the first single from the album was basically put out to make the statement that Rakim was back. You cannot deny the direct impact that the track has on you, especially having come after the previous skit, and it really is a dope track. Clark Kent's stab based beat really does get you pumped, and Rakim flows perfectly with the beat as always dropping gems like his finishing lines:
"Some of the things that I know will be in your next bible, so when I die go bury me and my notebook in Cairo; with the great gods from Egypt manifest was rhymes lined with the stars, I come back to bless the mic."
Overall this track is pure dopeness. 5/5

Stay A While - this is the first track on the album that I wasn't really feeling. There is something about the bassline that just sounds strange as if it almost has too much of a tangy sound to it. I can't really describe it properly but it just sounds strange. Rakim does his best to save the track from the terrible hook, but even though he sounds dope as ever, this isn't really up the lyrical level seen on other tracks on the album, and overall this track is just straight average. 3/5

New York (Ya Out There) - the second DJ Premier production on the album and it's another dope track. The track appears to use part of the same break used by Mary J Blige on the track which Romeo and Christina Milian then covered as the main focus of the beat. Rakim drops heat about his home city, telling tales of life within New York. The hook is another scratched Premo affair, shouting out the various areas of New York. Another very dope track. 4.5/5

Show Me Love - once again the female singers are here in full force on this track, and to be honest there is no real need for them to be there. You can see why they are there, because Ra is trying to go for the more laid back ladies man image on these tracks, but to be honest he really doesn't need the women singing the hooks to do this. He comes dope lyrically on this track though, which does save it from meritocracy but it's still just an average track in truth. 3/5

Skit

The Mystery (Who Is God?) - this track has a pretty slow beat, which does however manage to get your head nodding very well. Rakim basically shows off his amazing lyrical ability on this track, with loads of the mid bar rhyming which became his trademark. Once again he flows perfectly over the beat, never ever trailing off the beat and the thought provoking subject matter just makes this track other high quality effort. 4/5

When I'm Flowin - the second Pete Rock production on the album is once again in true Pete Rock style based around a dope as hell piano loop. Rakim drops more dopeness as ever over this beat, talking about people loving him when he flows, and you can see why. This is the last original track on the album and is a very dope way to finish off the album. 4.5/5

It's Been A Long Time (Suave House Mix) - the final track on the album is a remix of the track seen earlier on the album. This beat is much more based around a bassline and a g funk style whistle, which create a dope beat for the track. The hook just takes half of Premo's original scratched hook and repeats it twice before going back into Rakim's verses. This is a pretty good remix, but it certainly isn't on the level of the original version. 3.5/5

Overall this album was a dope return from one of hiphops greatest ever MCs. Despite being out of the game for so long Rakim sounded right on point throughout the whole album, and I don't think it is actually possible to criticise his flow or lyrics on any track. There are three classic tracks on this album, and a few more extremely dope cuts which really cannot be missed by any hiphop fan. The only time when the album really disappointed me was when the female singers seemed to be taking over, which was definitely not what I wanted to hear because Rakim can carry a whole track by himself and doesn't really need them even for the hooks. However this wasn't really able to spoil the album, and overall it was a very dope album. It is an essential purchase for any real hiphop fan, and if you are lucky enough to find the version with the additional Book Of Life cd which is basically just Eric B and Rakim's greatest hits then you really cannot turn it down.

Overall 8.5/10  

_That_Cracka_J

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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2003, 06:22:28 PM »
Nice review.

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OpTiCaL

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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2003, 09:42:50 AM »
Nice review.

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Thanks !


that was well worth my time in reading that....well written and accurate description bro :)

No one should have to ask anymore on that album


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ThreeSixty

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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2003, 09:47:53 AM »
lyrically the album is as strong as can be. somehow i still wont give it anything above a 8. i love rakims previous work with eric b. i dont think the two of them together put out even one less than classic album.. i cant say the same for rakims solo work
 

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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2003, 11:18:34 AM »
thanks for the review 8)
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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2003, 01:42:08 PM »
Thanks for the descriptive review on the album....I agree with your review...It's a really dope album IMO
 

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Re:Rakim - The 18th Letter
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2003, 06:33:34 PM »
THANKS for the review the album is dope