“I Came to move the crowd and to me ain’t no mistakes allowed” #Rakim blew into #Oakland, Ca on his national book tour and that’s what he did, moved the crowd at #Level13 on 13th st in Downtown Oakland. The day started for the lyricist many have labeled “The Best Who Ever Did It” at a book signing engagement for his memoir Sweat The Technique, that was released on September 24 2019. Later in the afternoon, Rakim was scheduled to appeat at #MoveTheCrowd day party promoted by the collaboration of #EMPWorldwide #Taylormade & #ChrisRachal who have been responsible for bringing Legends of Hip Hop, R&B and Rap to the #BayArea for years. When I heard they were promoting the Move The Crowd Day Party at Shadow Ultra Lounge/ Level 13 for the 40 plus generation, Danny Dohrmann aka Easy D had already secured media access before I could make a phone call. Big ups to Easy D because he is always on the scene and has become one of the roots to the sequoia that is TPNG Media.
When I arrived after 5pm at the venue, the Level 13 venue was already in full swing with the sounds of bay area music by DJ #ChrisDope. Beautiful women and a mix of celebs, athletes and Oakland street elites was mingling throughout the club taking photos and reminiscing waiting on William Michael Griffin Jr. aka Rakim to make his appearance. It is something to be said about the 40 plus events that Earl Emp Miller (EMP Worldwide) and Bryant Taylor (Taylormade) have promoted. Professional customer service, sold out events and no violence. I can not stress the NO VIOLENCE enough, because most venues stopped booking hop hop and rap artist because of the drama it brings. This is very important and the sole reason EMP Worldwide and Taylirmade have become the sought after promotions team in the bay area and beyond.
Bryant informed me that Rakim would be a little late because he was still in Alameda signing autographs, no problem I thought to myself, because the atmosphere within the venue was a flashback of the 80s before crack and homicides began to ravage the streets of Oakland. Youngins who either didn’t respect the town code or too much parking lot pimping, made it difficult for true hustlers and players of the Bay that went out suited and booted while congregating and keeping it breezy, to go out.
After strolling back and forth from the front door to the stage area, Rakim aka The God MC, Kid Wizard, Rakim Allah arrived in a white Mercedes limo bus close to 7pm accompanied by his touring personnel and manager Matt Kemp. Seeing Rakim in person is a major highlight since the hip hop legend hails from an era when rappers were true to the game and their lyrical ability were the driving force for emergence of the hip hop genre. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time, Rakim would memorize listeners with 16 bars and become one of the hottest lyrical wordsmiths known to mankind.
For the newer generation of pop hop and mumble rap heads who embrace this watered down and synthetic misic genre that was once hip hop, let me list Eric B & Rakim accolades and career. In 2011, Eric B & Rakim were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame album Paid in Full. Named the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV in 2006, but to anybody that had the #PaidInFull cassette tape in the 80s, we knew Eric B & Rakim were the truth and the streets donned Eric B the mix master of the world and Rakim “Mr President”.
While Too Short was making a name for himself in the Bay Area, in New York, a meeting was taking place in 1986 that would add to hip hop history. Eric B’s friend and roommate Marley Marl allowed the duo to use his home studio. The first track they recorded—”Eric B. Is President”—was released as a single on the independent Zakia Records in 1986. This was the same time that the east coast was flooding the west coast market with hip hop music and conscious rap. After Def Jam Recordings founder Russell Simmons heard the single, the duo were signed to Island Records and began recording the album in Manhattan’s Power Play Studios in early 1987, Eric B. and Rakim went on to release four studio albums with hits “I ain’t No Joke” “Microphone fiend” “I Know You Got Soul” ‘Know The Ledge” and “Juice” (also the theme song and film title starring 2pac) before their separation in 1992. Rakim was initially introduced to the Nation of Islam in 1986, and later joined The Nation of Gods and Earths (also known as the 5 Percent Nation), and adopted the name Rakim Allah. Eric B and Rakim would forever be labeled as Legends of hip hop for making a huge impact on the industry and rap groups who would later appeal to a broader audience.
Dj Chris kept the day party lit with a mix of hip hop, rap and r&b ballads and when Rakim Tour DJ took over the set, the party went into hyperdrive. Even though most of the “Move The Crowd” attendees had been waiting since 4pm to see Rakim (Oakland natives are known for causing ruckus for lateness) he was showed that Town Bizness love for being a lyrical genius on the mic and staying relevant in 2019. Many voices within the crowd was heard rapping alongside Rakim and I found myself blurting out a few bars when he pushed the mic in the crowd. Like R&B singers that go on tour when mainstream radio stop putting their music in heavy rotation, legends of hip hop should hit the road more frequently since corporate america is decreasing the music industry of incredible lyrical content and social consciousness and increasing the genre with one hit wonders and wack bubble gum pop hop tracks. Rakim like so many others who made a huge impact on the now 40 plus generation, have a voice in a industry that pushes mumble mouth music to the terrestrial radio audience.
Not having released an album since 1999, Rakim was able to retain the tracks he had made with Dr. Dre when he was signed to the Aftermath label. Like so many artists of the 80s that made record labels huge profits and the corporate entities they are today, only to have their albums pushed back or shelved for lesser kniwn artists with pop appeal, Rakim would witness an entire generation succumb to corporate backed musicians fabricating street cred and gangsterism. In 2006 Rakim announced that he would release a new studio album, The Seventh Seal. The album was delayed into 2009; instead, he followed up with a live album, The Archive: Live, Lost & Found, in 2008. Rakim said the “The number 7 has a lot of significance. The seventh letter of the [Supreme] alphabet is G—that stands for God. There are seven continents, seven seas. The Seventh Seal deals with that and also some revelations in the Bible. Some call it the end of the world, but for me it’s the end of the old and the beginning of the new. By me naming my album that, I’m using it metaphorically in hip hop. I’m hoping to kill the old state of hip hop and start with the new”. Oakland has always had a reputation as a musical and social conscious mecca, so legends like Rakim have a permanent home in the Bay.