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Legendary hip-hop artist Rakim on healing as a community

Rakim: ‘We’ve got to have dialogue’

Follow the Leader. Move the Crowd. Paid in Full. Microphone Fiend. I Ain’t No Joke. These are all hip-hop hits that lit up the late 1980s. They contained substantial pieces of black culture, fly beats and lyrics that made hip-hop fans think. These hits were all brought to you by the emcee/DJ duo Eric B and Rakim, and they spill over into today’s culture.

Although the two haven’t performed together for more than 20 years, Rakim continues to tour, flow, and spread the message that hip-hop lives. When it comes to consciousness and owning a platform to discuss the state of black culture through the art form, the timeless lyricist has spit out rhymes that frame the rap climate today.

In his latest documentary titled From Scratch: The Birth of Hip Hop by filmmaker Kirk Fraser (known for the ESPN Films 30 for 30: Without Bias and Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown), Rakim takes hip-hop connoisseurs back to the beginning of “wokeness.”

Now the longtime rhymer is chiming in on current issues and promoting healing within the community. He took time out from his tour and the filming of his documentary to speak with The Undefeated in a well-rounded sit-down conversation about the journey of hip-hop, his personal story, sports, the real reason behind his split from Eric B and current issues.

“I don’t want to sound corny, but I think you know we’ve got to have dialogue,” Rakim said. “People gotta speak about it. And speak about it to the point where it’s not uncomfortable. I think once we can get comfortable having conversations like that, then that’s a step in the right direction.”

Check out Part One of his interview on how the community can come together for dialogue to promote healing, and stay tuned for more on Rakim coming soon.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.