An article written by Steve Huey places Rakim’s best produced songs in chronological order, starting in 1986 with Eric B. & Rakim’s, “Eric B. Is President”, but we will only factor the first four songs and subsequently the first two on the list, due to having the most influence in “Machismo”:
1. “With the release of their debut single, “Eric B. Is President,” in 1986, Eric B. & Rakim became a sensation in the hip-hop community, and their reputation kept growing as they issued classic tracks like “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Paid in Full.” Their first two full-length albums, 1987’s Paid in Full and 1988’s Follow the Leader.” (Steve Huey)
2. “The last two Eric B. & Rakim albums, 1990’s Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em and 1992’s Don’t Sweat the Technique.”(Steve Huey)
3. “His only solo output for a number of years was the track “Heat It Up,” featured on the 1993 soundtrack to the Mario Van Peebles film Gunmen.” (Steve Huey)
4. “Finally, Rakim got a new contract with Universal, and toward the end of 1997 he released his first solo record, The 18th Letter (early editions contained the bonus disc Book of Life, a fine Eric B. & Rakim retrospective).” (Steve Huey)
5. “His follow-up, The Master, was released in 1999 and failed to duplicate its predecessor’s commercial success, barely debuting in the Top 75.” (Steve Huey)
6. “Rakim guested on the single “Addictive” by female R&B singer and Aftermath label mate Truth Hurts; “Addictive” hit the Top Ten in the summer of 2002.” (Steve Huey)
7. “In early 2008, The Archive: Live, Lost & Found, a mostly live album that also contained four new previously unreleased songs, hit shelves. The Seventh Seal finally did arrive a year later on the SMC label.” (Steve Huey)
Since the article doesn’t produce a specific timeline or an age for the victim of a possible group assault, we will fashion a timeline based upon the age range of Coates’ youth in retrospect of Rakim’s artistic releases; 1986 – 1993. In this timeline, we will utilize the aforementioned songs, and their curbed appeal for audience acceptance, emulation and representation on “Machismo”:
1. “Eric B. Is President”- Clearly nothing about him being a “President”, but what he does speak on gives character to any and every listener whom delves deeper into the song beyond the beat and into the lyricism. To start, the beat is funky-fresh, it has an energizing soft feel, almost as if you are floating and feeling “cool”, he exerts the qualities of confidence, control, perfected craftsmanship, and the power of self-expression. His two biggest points made in the song although are representatives as being the Originator of not being “Captain-Save-A-Hoe” and Owning an “Alter-Ego” known as Rhakim. Clearly the messages received from listening to this song could have the power to give an individual quality characteristics to boost their own sense of self-esteem and even create a fantasized reality from an interpretive perception of “Machismo”
2. “I Aint No Joke”- Intelligence is contagious! In the Army, there is a saying, “You have to be 10% smarter then the equipment you work with and 20% smarter than those you work for”. Without a doubt, the craft of the lyricism displayed creates the idea of emulation by exposure. Saying I aint no joke, clearly gives the premonition of being a proud, courageous, and brave persona. The continuous flow throughout the song supported by rhymes of dominance over his opponent, in coordination with the beat filled with energy, gives the title of “Master of Disaster” a sense of reality. Again, another rap filled song exuberant in “Machismo”.
3. “Paid In Full”- Definitely the “Machismo”! This song is the primary source for a youth abridging the gap between fear and overcoming it. From the start of “Thinking of A Master Plan” to lyrics of being in the streets as a stick up kid and innuendo of a 9mm, great depth is given to any listener in need of a figure to respect in relation to their own predicament. A layered persona of being an outcast rebel to playing inside the rules, gives greater insight to anyone in need of wondering how to negotiate an obstacle in their way.
4. “Let The Rhythm Hit Em”- The “Rhythm” is the absolute, non-equivocal, unchallenged, undefeated champion of all time! Being a practitioner of different styles of fighting, the “Rhythm” is definitely the “Machismo” in tactical strategies! Not only is this another contagious form of intelligence, but the pace is so quick, your heart beat will quicken to maintain the pace. The biggest and most influential lyric, “I get hit back, it wont be none of that, I’m Untouchable!” Definitely a song to listen to while going into the belly of the beast!
As you can see, from 1986 to 1990, the four songs listed have the most impact on a person and therefore “Machismo”. With that being said, high school is only four years in length, and most songs that are great are played for years beyond their release, not to mention the songs listed are “hits” on a record with other songs which resemble similar tones and messages. If one takes that into consideration, there is a plethora of songs to listen to repetitively, which conditions the mind, spirit, and soul, to grow, and change beyond the normalcy in which one presumably displayed prior to such exposure. Leaving the reality of an “Alter-Ego” such as “Rhakim” to be transferred to another’s perspective and ultimately give power to the powerless.
To conclude, I will leave you with a summary of excerpts from an article written by David Samuels, “The Atlantic”, giving a perspective into the eyes and soul of the man himself, Rakim and the power of his charisma. “Rakim’s rhymes were so good that they created not one but two new generations of rappers, from Nas, the Wu Tang Clan, and Biggie Smalls, to Jay Z and Kanye West.” (Samuels, David) 1. “So I just start “Thinking of a master plan / Ain’t nothing but sweat inside my hand.” I figure that a lot of people can relate with that, for the crowd that I was reaching for, for the people that felt they wanted to do better.” (Samuels, David) 2. “I think a lot of people that listen to music are trying to escape.
A lot of people listen to music, you know what I mean? And a lot of those people are what is always thought of as being less fortunate. As I grew up, a lot of the music was made to uplift the spirit.” (Samuels, David) 3. “ ‘Microphone Fiend’ was somewhat more of a more universal thought where people could be a fiend of music, you can be a fiend of sports, you can be a fiend of sex. It was something that people can hear and make their own.” (Samuels, David) 4. “It’s like a whole different point of view on making a record, or you can’t even say “connecting to the audience” because they don’t care if they connect anymore. It’s like “Listen, you either like me or you don’t. Either you understand it, or have your friend explain it to you.”
It’s like, “You gotta get on the bus man, or have somebody give you a ride, because I’m going, bro, I ain’t got time to explain it to you.” (Samuels, David) 5. “It’s just not about the listener no more. It’s about the artist, and this is how I’m living. I think it’s almost alienizing it to the point where the listener feels like it’s a world maybe that he will never be able to see, or it’s a world that’s going to make him envious of people who have what he can’t ever have.” (Samuels, David) 6. “So yeah, man, it’s almost like the artist is taking the music from the listener. “If you want to listen, listen, but this is mine.” Maybe that’s a sign of the times, or it’s us getting out of control with it, and not understanding the power of our genre.” (Samuels, David)
“It is quite clear of the purpose and perspective of the artist Rhakim, responsible, influential, and teacher are all words that describe his character. It would appear that each of his albums have a theme throughout in correlation to the era it was released, yet his traits that define his character hone true. “Now you want to say things that move the crowd. But you also want to reach for people and try to get them to either agree with what you’re saying or know that what you’re saying is for them—‘Yo, that’s my story he’s telling.” (Samuels, David)