Rakim & DJ Premier’s Song Has A Message Of Wisdom, Strength & Moving Forward (Audio)
In 1999, the world was gearing up for Y2K with great angst and uncertainty. Going by the numbers this week, approximately half of the American voters are feeling angst and uncertainty in an upcoming change of offices, from the White House, to Congress, and at state levels. In a week that still may feel surreal to many, the powerful words of Rakim may bring hope, peace, or at least courage to the road ahead.
Approaching year 2000, Rakim released his sophomore solo album, The Master. Following 1997’s gold-certified The 18th Letter, Rakim and an esteemed panel of producers including DJ Premier, DJ Clark Kent, 45 King, Jaz-O, and Ultramagnetic MC’s member TR Love stayed the course. While on the charts, The Master lacked the commercial excitement of Hip-Hop’s god MC breaking a five-year hiatus, the LP endures. The Long Island legend had dope beats, and found his pocket to kick knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to an audience that he’d been cultivating for more than a dozen years.
“Waiting For The World To End” was not a single, but it arguably should have been. On Preemo production during the Moment Of Truth era for the Gang Starr sound, Rakim Allah reflected inwardly and outwardly. The title, on paper, seems hopeless—as many people felt in 1999 (and perhaps now), preparing for doomsday.
However, Rakim—often not thought of for reverses in his lyrics, gets to a point of hope and change. “Through my travels I try to take righteous steps / Because right or left could mean life or death / No matter how trife it get, my sights is set / But it’s twice the threat when the nights is death / My mental windows refuse to close, they get exposed / To the neighborhood info where the poison wind blows / A deadly plague spreadin’ negativity, viciously / Unto every city be in ghetto misery,” begins Ra’. Using his worldly wisdom, Rakim spots the odds and the stakes in life’s deadly game. In the same song, after chronicling the ill street blues and stating his own coping mechanisms, Rakim professes, “That’s what I said when I realized I had a gift / To uplift and be one of Allah’s advocates / Teach the youth and speak the truth / Show ’em what peace can do when they’ll reach for you / And my reward won’t be jewels or cheese, it’s even better / I can be one of the greatest MC’s ever / If I tell ’em they intelligent women and great men / And live, stop waitin’ for the world to end.”
Those who are hopeless, build each other up, and affirm one another to go in the directions we desire, and make the changes we must. Seventeen Novembers later, we are still here—let this be a reminder to stop waiting for the world to end. As DJ Premier’s scratch complemented, we should be “never movin’ backwards,” know what I mean?
Last month, Rakim signaled that another album may be coming soon—with his legacy in mind.