Eric B.

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Eric B.
Birth nameEric Louis Barrier
Born (1963-11-08) November 8, 1963 (age 58)
New York City, U.S.[1]
GenresHip hop
Occupations
Years active1986–present
Labels4th & B'way/Island/PolyGram Records
Uni/MCA Records
Universal Records

Louis Eric Barrier (born November 8, 1963) is an American rapper, producer and DJ for the golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim.[3][4][5][6]

Eric B. & Rakim's album Paid in Full was named the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV in 2006,[7] and the duo were nominated in 2011 for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[8]

Eric B. has played police officer Mike Gee on the TV series Blue Bloods since 2019.[2]

Life[edit]

Eric B. was born on November 8, 1963 in East Elmhurst, Queens. He attended William Cullen Bryant High School under a basketball scholarship. "I thought of becoming a pro ball player," he said. "But music became a priority."[9]

Music career[edit]

Eric B. started deejaying with his younger brother and two friends at a roller rink.[10] He cites deejays such as DJ Vernon, King Charles, and Grandmaster Flash as early influences, recalling: "I remember sneaking out to the armories at night, sneaking out to the parties at St. Gabriel School on Astoria Boulevard".[11] By 1985, Eric B. worked as a DJ at the New York radio station WBLS; there, he sought to find an artist to rap over his DJing, which led him to meet Rakim.[12] Eric B. had also considered work with Freddie Foxxx, but was unable to successfully meet with him before forming his partnership with Rakim.[13]

Eric B. and Rakim released their first single, "Eric B. Is President," in 1986. Eric B. included an uncredited sample of James Brown's "Funky President" on the track,[11] which led Brown to sue the duo, in one of the earliest court cases related to sampling in hip-hop.[12] The duo then went on to release their debut album, Paid in Full, in 1987. This album was highly acclaimed immediately upon its release, and has come to be regarded as one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history; Eric B. has been praised for his "martial and percussive" production and effective use of samples on the album.[11][7]

After three more albums, Eric B. and Rakim's record contract with MCA came to a close. Concerned that Rakim might abandon him, Eric B. refused to sign the release contract, leading to a protracted legal battle between him, Rakim, and the label.[3][14] This situation led the duo to split up completely in 1992. After separating from Rakim, Eric B. released one solo album - 1995's Eric B. - but primarily worked as a producer and executive for Street Life Records, a now-defunct subsidiary of Scotti Brothers Records.[12]

Eric B. and Rakim fell out of contact after they ceased to collaborate musically, but in 2016, they reconnected and announced their reunion. The duo has once again begun holding concerts, and is working on remastering their albums, but indicated that they were not planning to release new music.[15]

Other ventures[edit]

In addition to music, Eric B. has been involved in movie production, and worked as a consultant for The Source Awards. He also owns several restaurants throughout the United States.[16]

Musical style[edit]

Eric B. is noted for his sparse production style; a New York Times review of Follow the Leader described him as a "minimalist virtuoso."[17] Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times has described Eric B.'s beats as "chill" and "understated",[18] while AllMusic describes them as "stripped-down."[19] In a more critical appraisal, Mark Jenkins of The Washington Post described Eric B.'s work on Paid in Full as "monotonous".[20]

Eric B. is also credited with being one of the first hip-hop producers to make extensive use of soul samples in his music; for instance, he samples heavily from James Brown's "Funky President" and Fonda Rae's "Over Like a Fat Rat" in his debut single with Rakim, "Eric B. Is President."[11]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Eric B. (1995)

with Rakim[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "F.D.S #39 - THE ERIC B EPISODE - FULL EPISODE". YouTube. 2017-08-08. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  2. ^ a b Justin Ivey (2019-10-21). "Eric B. Lands Role In CBS Show "Blue Bloods"". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  3. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Rakim Biography". allmusic. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  4. ^ Kool Moe Dee, 2003, "There's A God On The Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs", Thunder's Mouth Press, p.324.
  5. ^ "The Greatest MCs Of All Time". MTV.com. March 9, 2006. Archived from the original on April 2, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Peter, 2005, "The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition", Penguin, p. 126.
  7. ^ a b "The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time". MTV.com. March 9, 2006. Archived from the original on July 19, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  8. ^ "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2012 Nominees for Induction | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Rockhall.com. September 27, 2011. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  9. ^ "Press bio for Eric B. & Rakim - Cornell University Library Digital Collections".
  10. ^ ""Checking out Eric B. & Rakim" - Cornell University Library Digital Collections".
  11. ^ a b c d "Eric B. & Rakim Talk Reunion, the Birth of Cool and Being the Greatest". 24 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b c "Eric B and Rakim: Biography", The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Simon & Schuster, 2001, archived from the original on December 22, 2007, retrieved September 5, 2008
  13. ^ "The Dopest Photo In Hip-Hop: The Paid in Full Posse". Inverse Culture. Archived from the original on 2017-07-29. Retrieved 2017-07-29.
  14. ^ "Rakim Reflects On His Life In Hip-Hop And What Happened With Eric B." NPR. August 29, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  15. ^ "Eric B. & Rakim to Reunite for 2017 Tour, Album Reissues". Rolling Stone. October 22, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "Eric B.: The Unkut Interview (Extended Edition)". Unkut. 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  17. ^ Watrous, Peter (September 9, 1988). Review: Follow the Leader. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
  18. ^ Gold, Jonathan (August 28, 1988). "Rakim's Web of Words". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  19. ^ "Paid in Full - Eric B. & Rakim | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic".
  20. ^ Jenkins, Mark (1987). "The Rappin' Rocks On". The Washington Post. No. September 4. Weekend section, p. n.15. Retrieved May 19, 2015.