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Master
     

The Master

4.0 1
by Rakim
 
When Rakim claimed he was "one of the longest awaited since Jesus" on his double-disc return, THE 18th LETTER/ BOOK OF LIFE, hip-hop's best MC was not exaggerating. Still, his comeback didn't meet all expectations; complex metaphors, menacing flow, and his old school classics were in effect, but it was largely a

Overview

When Rakim claimed he was "one of the longest awaited since Jesus" on his double-disc return, THE 18th LETTER/ BOOK OF LIFE, hip-hop's best MC was not exaggerating. Still, his comeback didn't meet all expectations; complex metaphors, menacing flow, and his old school classics were in effect, but it was largely a hit-and-miss affair. THE MASTER confronts a similar dilemma: trying to match the level of the boom-bip with Rakim's godly rhymes. This time, the kinks have largely been worked out. Ra flexes best against DJ Premier's sample patchworks in the freestyle session "When I B on the Mic" and the apocalyptic "Waiting For the World to End." And other tracks succeed including the DJ Clark Kent-produced "It's the R" and the Jaz-O produced, "It's a Must," on which Rahzel adds his turntable mimicry to support Rakim's boastful bursts, which will keep listeners reaching for the rewind button. But in fact, the beats bang hardest on the self-produced "Strong Island," on which Rakim brings vibraphone snippets and a gut-numbing bass line to propel verses filled with hometown nostalgia. Summing up this masterful effort, Ra reclines on the radio-friendly jam, "We'll Never Stop": "So I observe the haps/ let my words attack/ till it hurts to rap/ or the Earth collapse." Let's hope neither tragedy happens anytime soon.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
When you've been named the best rapper ever in countless readers' and critics' polls, it must be easy to get a bit complacent. And as a veteran who's been on the mic since 1985 (yes, there are several rappers who weren't even on the earth back then), it also must be easy to make a few concessions to all the rappers and delivery styles that have come since Kangols were all the rage -- the first time, that is. Thankfully, Rakim's second solo album shows hip-hop's best rapper outdoing himself yet again, and not conceding a whit to '90s rap. Rakim has always been known for his laid-back flow and, accordingly, he never pushes himself here; his flow is smooth as syrup, and will undoubtedly make hip-hop fans realize just what rhythm is after merely a few tracks. He plays with internal rhymes (one of his trademarks) and constructs the most dense lyrics heard in hip-hop for years. The Master also benefits from its stellar cast of producers -- Clark Kent, DJ Premier, Ron "Amen-Ra" Lawrence, the 45 King, and even Rakim himself. The productions are tough and catchy (no strings here, thankfully), but they never outshine the rhymes. Rakim praises himself on quite a few tracks ("Flow Forever," "When I B on the Mic," "I Know," "It's the R"), but after a listen or two, listeners will likely agree with every boast he makes. After one album (The 18th Letter) to get back into things, Rakim is arguably doing the best work of his career.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/30/1999
Label:
Umvd Labels
UPC:
0731454208222
catalogNumber:
542082
Rank:
36068

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The Master 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I went to college with this girl who was like one of the deepest hip-hop headz I'd ever met in my life. She used to be so disgusted with me because I enjoyed commercial hip-hop as much as I enjoyed underground hip-hop. But after I started writing for an underground hip-hop magazine, I realized why she was so frustrated with me. The lyric scheme, the themes, the style, and the presence of underground artists are EXTREMELY different. It's strange to me to actually turn my base down and actually listen to the lyrics that the rapper is spitting cause I usually just listen to beats and block them out. With Rakim, you were rewinding all over the place like "What'd he just say? Aw, hell naw, he said that? Man, that was tight". It was a neverending story that I was excited to hear. I don't quite understand why Jay-Z believes he's the best rapper alive when Rakim is still strutting around. The only reason Rakim got a star knocked off is because his beats weren't that great. But...lyrically...this is it!