Paid in Full (album)

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Paid in Full
Studio album by Eric B. & Rakim
Released July 7, 1987
Recorded 1986–87; Marley Marl's home studio, Power Play Studios; New York City
Genre Hip hop
Length 45:08
Label 4th & B'way, Island
Producer Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim chronology
Paid in Full
(1987)
Follow the Leader
(1988)
Singles from Paid in Full
  1. "Eric B. Is President"
    Released: 1986
  2. "I Ain't No Joke"
    Released: 1987
  3. "I Know You Got Soul"
    Released: 1987
  4. "Move the Crowd"
    Released: 1988
  5. "Paid in Full"
    Released: 1988

Paid in Full is the debut album of American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on July 7, 1987, by Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The duo recorded the album at hip hop producer Marley Marl's home studio and Power Play Studios in New York City, following Rakim's response to Eric B.'s search for a rapper to complement his disc jockey work in 1985. The album peaked at number fifty-eight on the Billboard 200 chart and produced five singles, "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".

Paid in Full is credited as a benchmark album of golden age hip hop. Rakim's rapping, which pioneered the use of internal rhymes in hip hop, set a higher standard of lyricism in the genre and served as a template for future rappers. The album's heavy sampling by Eric B. became influential in hip hop production. The record has sold over a million copies and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it platinum in 1995. In 2003, the album was ranked number 228 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Background[edit]

Eric B. and Rakim met in 1985 after Eric B. looked for a rapper to complement his turntable work at the WBLS radio station in New York City.[1] After Rakim responded to Eric B.'s search for "New York's top MC",[2] Rakim's friend and roommate Marley Marl allowed him to use his home studio. The first track they recorded, "Eric B. Is President", was released as a single on the independent Zakia Records in 1986. After Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons heard the single, the duo were signed to Island Records and began recording the album in Manhattan's Power Play Studios in early 1987.[2] Rakim wrote his songs in approximately one hour while listening to the beat. He then recorded his vocals in the booth by reading his lyrics from a paper. In 2006, Rakim revealed, "When I hear my first album today I hear myself reading my rhymes but I'm my worst critic."[3] The duo completed the album in one week. They have said that they worked in 48-hour shifts and recorded in single takes in order complete the album within budget.[4] In a 2008 interview with AllHipHop, Eric B. stated, "[T]o sit here and say we put together this calculated album to be a great album would be a lie. We were just doing records that felt good."[5]

The album's success led to a contract with Uni Records and MCA Records in 1988, who released their second album, Follow the Leader.[6] Eric B. & Rakim are credited as officially producing Paid in Full. Although Marley Marl claimed to have produced two tracks ("My Melody" and "Eric B. Is President"[7]), Eric B. has argued that Marley Marl was only an engineer.[5] In 2003, Eric B. alleged the duo had not been fully paid for their work, and filed a lawsuit against the Island Def Jam Music Group, Lyor Cohen, and Russell Simmons.[8]

Music[edit]

Rakim's rhyming deviated from the simple rhyme patterns of early 1980s hip hop. His free-rhythm style ignored bar lines and had earned comparisons to Thelonious Monk.[9] The New York Times' Ben Ratliff wrote that Rakim's "unblustery rapping developed the form beyond the flat-footed rhythms of schoolyard rhymes".[10] While many rappers developed their technique through improvisation, Rakim was one of the first to demonstrate advantages of a writerly style, as with for instance his pioneering use of internal rhyme.[11] Unlike previous rappers such as LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C. who delivered their vocals with high energy, Rakim employed a relaxed, stoic delivery.[2][12] According to MTV, "We'd been used to MCs like Run and DMC, Chuck D and KRS-One leaping on the mic shouting with energy and irreverence, but Rakim took a methodical approach to his microphone fiending. He had a slow flow, and every line was blunt, mesmeric."[13] Rakim's relaxed delivery resulted from his jazz influences; he had played the saxophone and was a John Coltrane fan.[7][9][14][15] His subject matter often covered his own rapping skills and lyrical superiority over other rappers.[16][17]

Allmusic editor Steve Huey characterized Rakim for his "complex internal rhymes, literate imagery, velvet-smooth flow, and unpredictable, off-the-beat rhythms."[18] Pitchfork Media writer Jess Harvell described his rapping as "authoritative, burnished, [and] possessing an unflappable sense of rhythm".[17] Paid in Full, which contains gritty, heavy, and dark beats,[19] marked the beginning of heavy sampling in hip hop records.[10] Of the album's ten tracks, three are instrumentals.[20] As a disc jockey, Eric B. had reinstated the art of live turntable mixing.[7] His soul-filled sampling became influential in future hip hop production.[13] Music critic Robert Christgau noted that Eric B. had incorporated "touches of horn or whistle deep in the mix" of his sampled percussion and scratches.[21]

Singles[edit]

"Eric B. Is President" was released as the first single with "My Melody" as the B-side.[9] It peaked at number 48 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and number forty on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales.[22] The track sparked debate on the legality of unauthorized sampling when James Brown sued to prevent the duo's use of his music.[23] PopMatters' Mark Anthony Neal called it "the most danceable hip-hop recording" of 1986.[24] According to Touré of The New York Times, "It is Rakim's verbal dexterity as well as his calm, deep voice and dark tone that has made this song a rap classic: 'I came in the door/ I said it before/ I'll never let the mic magnetize me no more/ But it's bitin' me/ Fightin' me/ Invitin' me to rhyme/ I can't hold it back/ I'm looking for the line/ Takin' off my coat/ Clearin' my throat/ The rhyme will be kickin' it/ Til I hit my last note.'"[25] The second single, "I Ain't No Joke", peaked at number 38 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.[22] Described as one of the album's "monumental singles",[26] Michael Di Bella wrote in the All Music Guide to Rock that "Rakim grabs the listener by the throat and illustrates his mastery of the rhyming craft".[6]

The third single, "I Know You Got Soul", peaked at number 39 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, number 34 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales, and number 64 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.[22] The track's production contains "digitized cymbal crashes, breathing sounds, and a bumping bass line."[27] The song popularized James Brown samples in hip hop songs.[28] The British band M|A|R|R|S sampled the line, "Pump up the volume", on their number one UK single, "Pump Up the Volume".[29] Rolling Stone ranked it at number 386 on "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[30] The fourth single, "Move the Crowd", peaked at number three on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and number 25 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales.[22] The track's B-side, "Paid in Full", was released as a single in 1987 and later remixed by the production duo Coldcut. The remix used several vocal samples, most prominently "Im Nin'Alu" by Israeli singer Ofra Haza.[29] In 2008, the song was ranked at number 24 on VH1's "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs".[31]

Reception and influence[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[18]
Blender 5/5 stars[32]
Robert Christgau B[21]
The New York Times favorable[10]
Pitchfork Media 7.8/10[17]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[33]
The Source 5/5 stars[34]
Spin 10/10[35]
Sputnikmusic 5/5[36]
The Washington Post unfavorable[37]

Paid in Full was released during the period in hip hop that became known as the golden age hip hop era.[38] Alex Ogg considered it the duo's magnum opus in his book The Men Behind Def Jam.[2] Rakim's rapping set a blueprint for future rappers and helped secure East Coast hip hop's reputation for innovative lyrical technique.[11][39] Author William Cobb stated in To the Break of Dawn that his rapping had "stepped outside" of the preceding era of old school hip hop and that while the vocabulary and lyrical dexterity of newer rappers had improved, it was "nowhere near what Rakim introduced to the genre".[38] The New York Times' Dimitri Ehrlich, who described the album as "an artistic and commercial benchmark", credited Rakim for helping "give birth to a musical genre" and leading "a quiet musical revolution, introducing a soft-spoken rapping style".[40] Allmusic's Steve Huey declared Paid in Full one hip hop's most influential albums and "essential listening" for those interested in the genre's "basic musical foundations".[18] MTV ranked it at number one in "The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of All Time", stating it raised the standards of hip hop "both sonically and poetically" and described it as "captivating, profound, innovative and instantly influential".[13] The album is broken down track-by-track by Rakim in Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique.[41]

Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number 228 on "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", calling it "Ice-grilled, laid-back, diamond-sharp: Rakim is a front-runner in the race for Best Rapper Ever, and this album is a big reason why."[42] Similarly, Blender magazine included the album in its "500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die".[43] Time magazine listed it as one of the eighteen albums of the 1980s in its "All-TIME 100" albums; editor Alan Light acknowledged the record for changing the "sound, flow, and potential" of hip hop and that if Rakim is "the greatest MC of all time, as many argue, this album is the evidence".[12] Jess Harvell of Pitchfork Media complimented Rakim for an "endless display of pure skill" and described the album as "laidback and funky", but believed it contained "too much filler to get a free 'classic' pass".[17] Pitchfork Media placed Paid in Full at number fifty-two in its "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s"; editor Sam Chennault wrote that Rakim inspired a generation of MCs and "defined what it meant to be a hip-hop lyricist".[44] Slant Magazine listed the album at #32 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "For his part, Rakim didn't need to rely on macho jargon and trite gangsterisms for his self-aggrandizing sermons; he would simply reel off line after line of spellbinding wordplay, influencing an entire decade of tongue-twisting MCs in the process."[45]

Rakim is credited with influencing many rappers including the Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Nas,[40][46] who cites it as one of his favorite albums.[47] On July 11, 1995, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album platinum.[48] As of December 1997, it has sold over a million copies.[40]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and officially produced by Eric B. & Rakim.

# Title Samples[49] Time
1 "I Ain't No Joke" 3:54
2 "Eric B. Is on the Cut" 3:48
3 "My Melody" 6:46
4 "I Know You Got Soul" 4:46
5 "Move the Crowd"
  • "Action Speaks Louder than Words" by Chocolate Milk
  • "The Jam" by Graham Central Station
  • "Hot Pants Road" by The J.B.'s
  • "Pass the Peas" by The J.B.'s
  • "Sofistifunk" by Return to Forever
  • "Flight of the Newborn" by Return to Forever
  • "Eric B. Is President" by Eric B. and Rakim
3:49
6 "Paid in Full" 3:50
7 "As the Rhyme Goes On" 4:00
8 "Chinese Arithmetic" 4:07
9 "Eric B. Is President" 6:20
10 "Extended Beat" 3:49

Personnel[edit]

Information taken from Allmusic.[50]

  • Art direction – Ruth Kaplan
  • Engineer – Patrick Adams
  • Executive producer – Robert Hill
  • Mastering – Herb Powers
  • Photography – Ron Contarsy
  • Producer – Eric B. & Rakim
  • Remixing – Marley Marl

Chart history[edit]

Charts (1987)[51][52] Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 85
U.S. Top Pop Albums 58
U.S. Top Black Albums 8

Reissues[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States October 27, 1998 Island/PolyGram Records Double CD (Platinum Edition) Out Of Print 524 573
November 4, 2003 Island/IDJMG/Universal Records Double CD (Deluxe Edition) 986 083
April 26, 2005 Island/IDJMG/Universal Records CD (Expanded Edition) 988 042

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Eric B and Rakim: Biography", The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster), 2001, retrieved 5 September 2008 
  2. ^ a b c d Ogg, Alex (2002). The Men Behind Def Jam: The Radical Rise of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. p. 105. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-8873-0
  3. ^ JButters (August 1, 2006). "Halftimeonline.net". HalftimeOnline.net. Accessed September 25, 2008.
  4. ^ MacInnes, Paul (June 13, 2011). Eric B and Rakim record Paid in Full in a week. The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 2011-08-09.
  5. ^ a b Berrios, Martin A. (February 29, 2008). "Class Of '88: Paid In Full". AllHipHop. Accessed September 6, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra, Chris; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2002). All Music Guide to Rock: The Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul. p. 374. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-653-X.
  7. ^ a b c Taylor, Steve (2004). The A to X of Alternative Music. p. 20. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-8217-1
  8. ^ Strong, Nolan (October 17, 2003). "Eric B. Wants To Be Paid In Full, Suing Island Def Jam". AllHipHop. Accessed July 15, 2008.
  9. ^ a b c Freedom duLac, Josh. (October 2, 2006). "A Stop-and-Go Hip-Hop Show". The Washington Post. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c Ratliff, Ben. Review: Paid in Full. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  11. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "allmusic Rakim > Biography". Allmusic. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  12. ^ a b Light, Alan (November 13, 2006). "The All-TIME 100 Albums". Time magazine. Accessed September 29, 2008.
  13. ^ a b c "MTV.com: The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time". MTV (2005). Accessed July 15, 2008.
  14. ^ Jbutters (July 6, 2006). "Rakim". HalftimeOnline.net. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  15. ^ "Q & A w/ Rakim: Lyrics of Fury". ThaFormula.com (2005). Accessed October 29, 2008.
  16. ^ Darby, Derrick; Shelby, Tommie; West, Cornel (2005). Hip Hop and Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason. p. 42. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 0-8126-9589-5.
  17. ^ a b c d Harvell, Jess. Review: Paid in Full. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  18. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. Review: Paid in Full. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  19. ^ Rose, Tricia (1994). Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. p. 93. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 0-8195-6275-0.
  20. ^ Wang, Oliver (2003). Classic Material: The Hip-Hop Album Guide, p. 69. Entertainment, Culture, Writing Press. ISBN 1-55022-561-8
  21. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Paid in Full". The Village Voice: September 29, 1987. Archived from the original on 2009-10-19.
  22. ^ a b c d "allmusic Paid in Full > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Accessed August 4, 2008.
  23. ^ Simon & Schuster (2001). "Eric B and Rakim". The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Accessed August 4, 2008.
  24. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (November 19, 2003). "...And Bless the Mic for the Gods: Rakim Allah". PopMatters. Accessed August 4, 2008.
  25. ^ Touré (August 14, 1994). "Pop View; Only One Star in the Two Schools of Rap". The New York Times. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  26. ^ Huey, Steve. "allmusic Eric B. & Rakim > Biography". Allmusic. Accessed August 15, 2008.
  27. ^ Perry, Imani (2004). Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop. p. 52. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-3446-1
  28. ^ "allmusic Paid in Full > Overview". Allmusic. Accessed August 6, 2008.
  29. ^ a b Wojcik, Pamela Robertson; Knight, Arthur (2001). Soundtrack Available. p. 254. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2800-3.
  30. ^ "I Know You Got Soul". Rolling Stone (December 9, 2004). Accessed September 12, 2008.
  31. ^ Winistorfer, Andrew (September 29, 2008). "VH1's 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs". Prefix magazine. Accessed October 14, 2008.
  32. ^ Bemis, Alec. "Review: Paid in Full". Blender. Retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  33. ^ Hoard, Christian. "Review: Paid in Full". Rolling Stone: 281. November 2, 2004.
  34. ^ Kazeem (August 4, 2010). The Complete List Of 5 Mic Hip-Hop Classics. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-12-23.
  35. ^ Marks, Craig. "Review: Paid in Full". Spin: October 10, 1995.
  36. ^ Arp, Louis. Review: Paid in Full. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  37. ^ Jenkins, Mark. "Review: Paid in Full". The Washington Post: n.15. September 4, 1987. Archived from the original on 2009-10-19. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  38. ^ a b Cobb, William Jelani (2006). To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. p. 140. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1670-9.
  39. ^ Karon, Tony (September 22, 2000). "'Hip-Hop Nation' Is Exhibit A for America's Latest Cultural Revolution". Time magazine. Accessed September 25, 2008.
  40. ^ a b c Ehrlich, Dimitri (December 7, 1997). "Recordings View ; A Rap Pioneer Defies the Odds". The New York Times. Accessed July 16, 2008.
  41. ^ Coleman, Brian. Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard/Random House, 2007.
  42. ^ "227) Paid in Full". Rolling Stone (November 1, 2003). Accessed July 15, 2008.
  43. ^ "500 CDs You Must Own: Hip-Hop". Blender magazine (April 2003). Accessed September 24, 2008.
  44. ^ Chennault, Sam (November 20, 2002). "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork Media. Accessed September 29, 2008.
  45. ^ "Best Albums of the 1980s | Feature". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-05. 
  46. ^ "MTV.com: The Greatest MCs Of All Time". MTV (2006). Accessed October 28, 2008.
  47. ^ Isnanul, Ahmed (May 22, 2012). "Nas' 25 Favorite Albums". Complex (Complex Media). Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  48. ^ "RIAA Searchable Database - Paid in Full". Recording Industry Association of America. Accessed September 5, 2008.
  49. ^ "Rap Sample FAQ Search: Eric B and Rakim". The-Breaks.com. Accessed November 7, 2008.
  50. ^ "allmusic Paid in Full > Credits". Allmusic. September 7, 2008.
  51. ^ Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book of the British Charts. p. 92. Omnibus Press. ISBN 1-84449-058-0.
  52. ^ "allmusic Paid in Full > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Accessed July 15, 2008.

References[edit]

External links[edit]