Few rappers from hip-hop’s golden era (the late 1980s for those who don’t know) remain relevant in 2009. William Michael Griffin Jr. is an exception. Best known as one half of the legendary rapper/producer duo Eric B. & Rakim, Griffin, then Rakim, has returned with his third solo album.
The Seventh Seal is the first release from Rakim since 1998’s The Master. Numerous label woes plagued this latest release from the legendary emcee, but as a master of the craft, he shows no signs of rust.
From track No. 1 it is evident that prime lyricism has no limit for the emcee who once rhymed “Timeless, so age don’t count in the booth/when ya flow stay submerged in the fountain of youth.”
On “How to Emcee,” The Microphone Fiend displays supreme imagery and wordplay as he teaches new rappers and rap fans how the art form should be performed.
In one of the more inspirational songs from the album — “Won’t Be Long” — Rakim chronicles troubles he’s experienced throughout his career, while promising listeners that trials and tribulations wouldn’t last forever.
The highlight of The Seventh Seal is the boastfully titled “Holy Are You,” where the self-proclaimed “God MC” reminds the entire hip-hop world who he is and what he means to this genre and culture.
Rakim tears into the blaring Nick Wiz-produced track with boastful bars like “A pharaoh in ghetto apparel I stay blinged up/Fort Knox display, a modern day King Tut/wrapped tight, rap like I been preserved in time/spit that holy water then touch it and turn it to wine.”
Sonically the album is suffused with heavy bass, kick snares and vocal samples.
Some of the production is less than perfect at times, but any true fan of lyricism should be able to look past it and into the meat of this latest offering from the legendary lyrical craftsman.
Other than Maino, there aren’t any notable guest appearances, boding well for hip-hop purists looking for their fix of Rakim from a near decade-long hiatus.
The Seventh Seal is a thorough lyrical clinic. Although the production could be better, the lyrical skill of Rakim overshadows any shortcomings made by other parties involved.
The album further solidifies the legend of Rakim and reinforces his status as the architect of the modern rhyming style we know today.