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  • Erica Ponder

Legendary Hip-Hop pioneer Rakim discusses the evolution of rap music, passing of rapper DMX at Houst

Rakim performing at Bar 5015

HOUSTON — Hip-Hop pioneer Rakim is one the most legendary, yet most humble artists to ever grace the world’s most impactful genre of music.

Known for being one of the first in the rap industry to present complicated, intricate rhymes, Rakim, whose government name is William Michael Griffin, Jr., is one of the most influential rappers in history. The ‘Paid in Full’ and ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ rapper performed at Houston’s Bar 5015 and proved that he can still rock a crowd even years after the golden age of Hip-Hop. And while he still knows how to bring energy to the stage, off the stage Rakim is one of the kindest souls you will ever meet.

The rap veteran admitted he never thought Hip-Hop would get as big as it has gotten today.

“I like how innovating it is. It dictates a lot of things that are going on in this world right now,” Rakim said. “Its like the number one genre of music right now. A lot of people didn’t think it would survive. It’s came a long way and it’s here to stay.”

While Rakim is known for his humble nature, he is also aware of what he has brought to the industry with his unique, talented musical gift.

Rakim performing at Bar 5015

When asked about his legacy and how he feels about the path he’s set before other rappers today, He said, “It feels good to be able to do that, especially in this genre, to be able to influence your pupils, your team. Hip-Hop is a real egotistical genre and to get that love from my peers is a blessing.”

When speaking of peers that meant a lot to him, Rakim didn’t hold back when discussing the late rapper DMX in such high regard.

“That brother right there was so passionate about life, you know. He made people look deep inside their self,” he said. “DMX always prayed for everybody else… It hurts real bad for this to happen to a brother like that. Deepest condolences to him and his family.”

Rakim performing at Bar 5015

Rakim said he can recall the day he met the rugged rapper that would one day take the world by storm.

“The first time I met him was at the Apollo back in the 90s when he first came out,” Rakim said. “It was him, Big Pun, and a couple other brothers chopping it up. I just remember turning to each one of them and telling them how dope they were. I just love when I meet these brothers that inspire me and inspire Hip-Hop. I’m a fan just like everybody else.”

When discussing the evolution of Hip-Hop, Rakim had a very positive outlook, yet gave constructive input.

“I look at some of these rappers as little brothers,” he said. “I can’t ridicule them for the way they want to make music. Art is an expression. It needs to be more balanced to where you can play this brother from over here and that brother from over there, and find a way to make it all work. I think that’s the only problem. The young brothers got a role to play and they playing it. I tip my hat to them.”

And we tip our hat to him for his longevity, talent and contributions to rap music as we know it.

Rakim with Empowered Expressions’ Erica Ponder


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