Paid in Full (Eric B. & Rakim song)

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"Paid in Full"
Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full single.jpg
Single by Eric B. & Rakim
from the album Paid in Full
B-side"Eric B. Is on the Cut"
Format12-inch single, 7-inch single
GenreHip hop
Length3:48 (single version); 7:10 (Coldcut "Seven Minutes of Madness" remix)
Label4th & B'way
Songwriter(s)Eric Barrier, Rakim Allah
Producer(s)Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim singles chronology
"Move the Crowd"
"Paid in Full"
"Follow the Leader"
Audio sample
Music video
"Paid in Full" on YouTube

"Paid in Full" is a 1987 song by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Written and produced by group members Eric Barrier and Rakim Allah, the song was released as the fifth single from the duo's debut studio album Paid in Full. "Paid in Full" became one of the group's most successful singles, owing heavily to a popular remix of the song by English dance music duo Coldcut.


In 1985, Eric B. launched a search for a rapper to complement his turntable work at the WBLS radio station in New York City. Rakim responded to his search, and the two later began to record tracks together in the home studio of one of Rakim's close friends, Marley Marl.[1] After Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons heard the duo's debut single "Eric B. Is President", he signed them to Island Records and began recording their debut studio album in early 1987, alternating between Marley Marl's home studio and Manhattan's Power Play Studios.[1] The resulting album, Paid in Full, was released in July 1987.

English dance music duo Coldcut were commissioned to produce a remix of the song to be included on the "Paid in Full" single, with the result being given the subtitle "Seven Minutes of Madness".[2] When "Paid in Full" was eventually released as the album's fifth and final single, it became a hit in American clubs.[2] It experienced much more commercial success overseas, however, thanks largely to the Coldcut remix. "Seven Minutes of Madness" became one of the first commercially successful remixes, becoming a top fifteen hit in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.[2][3][4][5] Coldcut were paid 700 pounds for their remix work. Despite its success, Eric B. dismissed the remix as "girly disco music"; Rakim, however, called it the best remix he had ever heard.[6] Along with the track, "Move the Crowd", "Paid in Full" peaked at #3 on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart.[7]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

A brown-haired man with headphones around his neck sits in front of a mixer and a laptop.
Matt Black, one-half of Coldcut, performs in 2006. The duo produced the famous "Seven Minutes of Madness" remix of "Paid in Full".

Like much of the duo's input, "Paid in Full" – produced by Eric B. & Rakim themselves – utilizes several sampled elements. To construct the song's drum track, Eric B. looped a portion from "Ashley's Roachclip", a 1974 song by funk group The Soul Searchers.[8] The bassline was sampled from "Don't Look Any Further" by singers Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett.[9] Towards the end of the track, Eric B. also repeatedly scratches the line "This stuff is really fresh!" from "Change the Beat", a much-sampled record by hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy.[10]

Coldcut's remix of "Paid in Full" has been described as a selective remix – one which adds or subtracts material from the original composition.[11] Coldcut incorporated several new elements in producing their remix, including the addition of various vocal samples.[11] The most prominent of these samples was the voice of Israeli singer Ofra Haza, taken from her recording of "Im Nin'alu".[2] Jonathan More of Coldcut had previously played the Haza record in clubs and found that when he lowered its pitch, it synced perfectly with the "Ashley's Roachclip" drum sample.[6] The success of the remix helped thrust Haza into the public eye. "Im Nin'alu" was remixed and released as a single in its own right, and sales of Haza's 1984 album Yemenite Songs increased dramatically.[12] Haza only took issue to the fact that she was not informed of the sample.[12] Another notable element of the Coldcut remix is its opening vocal sample, "This is a journey into sound!" – the voice of British actor Geoffrey Sumner.[13] "Now wait a minute, you better talk to my mother" comes from Humphrey Bogart and the 1946 classic film The Big Sleep.[14] The lines "Pump up the volume" and "Def with the record" are sampled from Eric B. & Rakim's own song "I Know You Got Soul", also from Paid in Full.[2] Other sample sources present in the remix include an anonymous James Brown, Don Pardo, the Peech Boys and the Salsoul Orchestra. "Paid In Full" is believed to be the first hip hop record to implement layers of singing vocal samples over a drumbeat.[15]

Critical reception[edit]

"Paid in Full" received acclaim from music critics, who complimented the song's lyrics and production.

Rolling Stone magazine named "Paid in Full" the tenth greatest hip hop song of all time. Rakim's wordplay was praised and comparisons were drawn to American jazz musician John Coltrane: "His [Rakim's] incandescent thought-bubble rap – barely a minute long – is all iced flow and sly beat-dodging, a good-vs.-evil meditation that calmly frames thug life inside real-life economics and a novelist's eye for detail."[16] VH1 placed the song at number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.[17]

The Coldcut remix has also been acclaimed, with its utilization of samples – particularly that of "Im Nin'alu" – being complimented. Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian named it a "benchmark remix" and placed it in his top ten list of remixes.[13] Chuck Eddy of Spin called the remix Coldcut's "greatest moment".[15]


Chart (1987–88) Peak
France (SNEP)[18] 49
Germany (Official German Charts)[3] 12
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[4] 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[19] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[5] 15
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[20] 65


  1. ^ a b Ogg, Alex (2002). The Men Behind Def Jam: The Radical Rise of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. Omnibus Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-7119-8873-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hess, Mickey (2007). Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-313-33902-8.
  3. ^ a b " – Eric B. & Rakim Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  4. ^ a b " – Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Kot, Greg (October 17, 1997). "The Tasteful Turntable". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 91.
  8. ^ Leland, John (August 1989). "Singles". Spin. Spin Media LLC: 87. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Wojcik, Pamela Robertson; Knight, Arthur (2001). Soundtrack Available: Essays on Film and Popular Music. Duke University Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-8223-2797-4. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  10. ^ Britton, Kevin (June 28, 2006). "Starting from Scratch: The Positive Side of Hip Hop". Cincinnati CityBeat. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Sonvilla-Weiss, Stefan (2010). Mashup Cultures. Springer. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-7091-0096-7. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Steward, Sue (April 1988). "Ofra Haza – Yemenite Songs". Spin. Spin Media LLC: 27. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Lynskey, Dorian (October 15, 2004). "Change the record". The Guardian. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  14. ^ "The Big Sleep (script)".
  15. ^ a b Eddy, Chuck (November 8, 2012). "M/A/R/R/S Attacks!: 8 Essentials of Plunderphonic House". Spin. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  16. ^ "The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time – 10. Eric B. and Rakim, 'Paid in Full'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. December 5, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  17. ^ Macnie, Jim (September 24, 2008). "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs Ever!!!". VH1. Viacom. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  18. ^ " – Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  19. ^ " – Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  20. ^ "Eric B. & Rakim Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 21, 2013.

External links[edit]