Follow the Leader (Eric B. & Rakim album)
|Follow the Leader|
|Studio album by Eric B. & Rakim|
|Released||July 26, 1988|
|Recorded||Power Play Studios in New York City|
|Producer||Eric B. & Rakim|
|Eric B. & Rakim chronology|
Follow the Leader is the second studio album by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. It was released on July 26, 1988, by Uni Records as the follow-up to the duo's 1987 debut album Paid in Full. Follow the Leader was recorded at Power Play Studios in New York City, and produced, arranged, and composed by the duo, with additional contributions from Rakim's brother Stevie Blass Griffin.
While its singles attained moderate success, the album performed better on music charts than Eric B. & Rakim's debut album and reached number 22 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Albums chart. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, having shipped 500,000 copies in the United States.
Background and recording
Following the breakthrough success of their debut album Paid in Full (1987), Eric B. & Rakim left 4th & B'way Records and signed with Uni Records, a subsidiary label of major label MCA Records. They recorded Follow the Leader at Power Play Studios in New York City. The duo produced, composed, and arranged the album with additional contributions from Rakim's brother Stevie Blass Griffin, who contributed with various instruments. Eric B. & Rakim worked with audio engineers Carlton Batts and Patrick Adams on the album. In a similar manner to their first album, a "ghost producer" was brought in for two songs. In a 2007 interview with Unkut.com, The 45 King said he produced both "Microphone Fiend" and "The R". "Microphone Fiend" was originally made for Fab 5 Freddy, until 45 King gave it over to Eric B., the group's "DJ".
Reception and legacy
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||9/10|
|The Village Voice||A−|
Follow the Leader peaked at number 22 on the U.S. Billboard Top Pop Albums and at number seven on Billboard's Top Black Albums chart. It achieved higher charting than Eric B. & Rakim's debut album and serves as their best-charting album in the United States. The album produced four singles, "Follow the Leader", "Microphone Fiend", "The R", and "Lyrics of Fury". "Follow the Leader" peaked at number 16 on the Hot Black Singles, at number 11 on the Hot Dance/Disco, and at number five on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart. "The R" reached number 79 on the Hot Black Singles, number 28 on the Hot Dance/Disco, number 41 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales, and number 14 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. On September 27, 1988, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments in excess of 500,000 copies in the United States.
Follow the Leader was well received by contemporary critics. Los Angeles Times writer Jonathan Gold viewed it as "far more consistent" than the duo's Paid in Full, calling Eric B. "a master of chill, understated beats" and complimenting Rakim for weaving "a laid-back web of words, his whiskey-smooth tenor less noisy but more intense than the machine-gun mutterings you hear booming from beat boxes, his keen rhymes all the more devastating for being near-whispered where lesser rappers would shout". In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau found the duo's sampling as an improvement from their previous work's "Brownian motion" and complimented Rakim's "ever-increasing words-per-minute ratio—the man loves language like a young Bob D". Peter Watrous of The New York Times commended Eric B.'s mixes and described him as "a minimalist virtuoso". Watrous called Rakim "one of the most distinctive rappers in the business" and elaborated on his lyricism: "His voice soars as gracefully as a well-thrown football; it'll change direction on the spot. He will vary rhythms, pushing and pulling against the beat to highlight his lyrics. Insistent, cool and dedicated, his rapping has an urgency that makes the music much more than pop; it sounds like a musical version of a political, social vision.
In the 2006 book To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic, author William Jelani Cobb later wrote of the album's significance:
On the heels of Paid in Full, Eric B. & Rakim delivered a full clip of album titled Follow the Leader in 1988. Featuring a broader spectrum of sounds than the James Brown samples that had defined the initial release, Follow the Leader saw Rakim at his most lyrically fierce, issuing deft and def threats on such tracks as 'Microphone Fiend,' 'Lyrics of Fury,' and the nearly felonious 'No Competition.' The release marked the high point in the collaboration between the two and prefaced the long slide they faced in the 1990s."
In a retrospective review, AllMusic editor Steve Huey gave the album five out of five stars and viewed it as an improvement over Paid in Full, commending Rakim's "agile, up-tempo lyrical showcases". In a dual review of both Paid in Full and Follow the Leader's reissues, Pitchfork Media's Jess Harvell expressed that the high points of the latter album "are as high as any rap group has gotten" and wrote that both albums' music serve as "a reminder of a brief period where people thought they could become a millionaire on skills alone, where the reality of that was so far away that no one had to think about what being a millionaire would mean to the culture that nurtured those skills". In 1998, Follow the Leader was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums, and in 2005, it was ranked number 12 on comedian Chris Rock's list of the "Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums". The track "Lyrics of Fury" was ranked number five on About.com's list of "Top 100 Rap Songs".
- All songs were written and produced by Eric B. & Rakim (Eric Barrier, William Griffin).
|1||"Follow the Leader"||5:36|
|3||"Lyrics of Fury"||4:15|
|4||"Eric B. Never Scared"||5:21|
|5||"Just a Beat"||
|6||"Put Your Hands Together"||5:15|
|7||"To the Listeners"||
|11||"Beats for the Listeners"||
- Patrick Adams – engineer
- Carlton Batts – engineer
- Eric B. & Rakim – vocals, producer
- Eric B. – performer
- Stevie Blass Griffin – composer, performer
- Rakim – arranger, producer
|U.S. Top Pop Albums||22|
|U.S. Top Black Albums||7|
- Huey, Steve. Biography: Eric B. & Rakim. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- Product Page: Follow the Leader. Muze. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- "Credits: Follow the Leader". Allmusic. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- Huey, Steve. Review: Follow the Leader. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
- Gold, Jonathan (August 28, 1988). Review: Follow the Leader. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
- Coleman, Mark. Review: Follow the Leader. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-10-27.
- Hoard, Christian. "Review: Follow the Leader". Rolling Stone: 281. November 2, 2004.
- Marks, Craig. "Review: Follow the Leader". Spin Alternative Record Guide: October 10, 1995.
- Christgau, Robert (September 27, 1988). "Consumer Guide: Follow the Leader". The Village Voice: Archived from the original on 2009-10-19.
- Charts & Awards - Billboard Albums: Follow the Leader. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- Charts & Awards - Billboard Albums: Eric B. & Rakim. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles: Follow the Leader. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- Gold & Platinum - Searchable Database: Eric B. & Rakim. Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on 2010-09-06.
- Watrous, Peter (September 9, 1988). Review: Follow the Leader. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
- Cobb (2006), p. 142.
- Harvell, Jess. Review: Follow the Leader. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-19.
- Chris Rock's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums Archived November 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.. Rate Your Music. Accessed August 9, 2008.
- Adaso, Henry. Top 100 Rap Songs. About.com. Accessed August 9, 2008.
- Follow the Leader (CD liner, Expanded Edition). Eric B. & Rakim. UNI Records. 2005. B0004324-02.
- Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard, ed. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Cobb, William Jelani (2006). To the Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-1670-9.
- Weisbard, Eric; Craig Marks (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.