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Follow the Leader

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Album Review

Having already revolutionized hip-hop, Eric B. & Rakim came up with a second straight classic in their sophomore album Follow the Leader, which basically follows the same blueprint for greatness, albeit with subtle refinements. Most noticeably, Eric B.'s production is already moving beyond the minimalism of Paid in Full. Follow the Leader finds him changing things up more often: dropping in more samples, adding instruments from musician Stevie Blass Griffin, and generally creating a fuller sound over his rock-solid beats. It's still relatively spare, but the extra sonic weight helps keep things fresh. For his part, Rakim wasn't crowned the greatest MC of all time for the variety of his lyrical content, and Follow the Leader is no different. Yet even if he rarely deviates from boasting about his microphone prowess (and frankly, he's entitled), he employs uncommonly vivid and elaborate metaphors in doing so. A case in point is "Microphone Fiend," which weaves references to substance addiction throughout in explaining why Rakim can't keep away from the mic. The album-opening title cut is one of his most agile, up-tempo lyrical showcases, demonstrating why he's such a poetic inspiration for so many MCs even today. "Lyrics of Fury" manages to top it in terms of sheer force, using the break from James Brown's "Funky Drummer" before it saturated the airwaves. And, of course, there are several more turntable features for Eric B.. Follow the Leader may not have broken much new ground, but it captures one of the greatest pure hip-hop acts at the top of their form, and that's enough to make it a classic. [In 2005, Geffen reissued the album with three remixes tacked onto the original track list.]

Customer Reviews

The R!

This has got to be the best Eric b + rakim album.classics like microphone fiend put your hands together lyrics of fury follow the leader etc etc

Biography

Formed: 1985 in Queens, New York, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s

They never had a mainstream hit of their own, but during rap's so-called golden age in the late '80s, Eric B. & Rakim were almost universally recognized as the premier DJ/MC team in all of hip-hop. Not only was their chemistry superb, but individually, each represented the absolute state of the art in their respective skills. Eric B. was a hugely influential DJ and beatmaker whose taste for hard-hitting James Brown samples touched off a stampede through the Godfather of Soul's back catalog that continues...
Full bio