Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid In Full vs. Boogie Down Productions’ By All Means Necessary. Which Is Better?

One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?

“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.

With Paid In Full, Eric B. & Rakim changed expectations for how a Rap album should sound. Rakim shunned the more simplistic and bombastic flow of his predecessors and Eric B. surrounded Ra’s velvety vocals with the meanest James Brown break beats he could conjure. Boogie Down Productions’ By All Means Necessary showed that the crew was able to withstand the devastating loss of DJ and mentor Scott La Rock, and established KRS-One as a force, in his own right, and a man with a message. Which album has better stood the test of time? (Click one then click “vote”).

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Paid In Full by Eric B. & Rakim

In mid-1987, Eric B. & Rakim changed the Hip-Hop landscape seismically through their Paid In Full debut. In an era when single syllabic rhymes in 4-4 time were still commonplace, Rakim stepped forth with a complex, but seemingly effortless flow. The Long Island, New York MC took on topics from his DJ, to his financial status, to his skyrocketing career, and made instant-certified dope. Calm and seemingly unaffected, Rakim was an entirely different MC than Run-D.M.C, Boogie Down Productions, or LL Cool J. However, he packed the same A-level of confidence. Meanwhile, DJ Eric B. (with reported help from Ra’ and Marley Marl) laced an album that took ’60s and ’70s records and seamlessly wove them against Rakim’s rhymes. “I Know You Got You Soul” pipe-lined the excitement of James Brown into the late ’80s, with a raw freshness. “I Ain’t No Joke” combined hard, panned drums with horn riffs—bridged together with scratching. Although the duo was using emerging technology, their organic rawness made the universe their studio.

While Eric B. & Rakim knew how to travel backwards musically, they were also trailblazing. “Paid In Full” used drums as effectively as any song in its day, while Rakim took listeners on a journey, accented by effects under Eric. “My Melody” relied on synth-and-scratch in a way that bridged the gap between Hip-Hop, Pop, and New Wave. An eventual platinum album, this 10-track effort was a capsule of soulful Hip-Hop for 1987. Moreover, this LP all but closed the book on new MCs using simple rhymes and metronome flows. As LL Cool J, KRS-One, Kool Moe Dee, Run, DMC, and others wielded supreme status as MCs, Rakim instantly threw his hat in the ring. “Eric is president,” but Ra’ stood tall as crowd commander-in-chief.

Album Number: 1
Released: August 25, 1987
Label: 4th & B’way/Island Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #58 (certified gold, December 1987, certified platinum, July 1995)
Song Guests: N/A
Song Producers: (self), Marley Marl


By All Means Necessary by Boogie Down Productions

Just over one year removed from Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions shifted drastically on their sophomore album. Still gun-totin’ on album covers, KRS-One was mourning the murder of B.D.P. co-founder Scott La Rock. With hurt in his heart, the Bronx, New York touted “Stop The Violence” on this album—urging all of the world to put down the anger and malice. “My Philosophy” added to the message that as MCs defined themselves, Kris would be a heavy mental rapper—going places others couldn’t, and never losing a thesis to his songs. Moreover, rather than brandish these attributes in album cuts, B.D.P. and Jive Records put the manifestos on front street. Speaking greatly about Hip-Hop, KRS quickly became an undisputed vessel of the culture.

Although the By All Means Necessary‘s music stepped away from Criminal Minded‘s pocket, it still hand that infectious bite. “Jimmy” layered its samples in a style heard from Public Enemy, while “I’m Still #1” wasted no time getting right to the speaker-rattling bass to go with KRS’ challenge to peers and the generation of MCs before him. Lyrically, Blastmasta had not lost a step, only enhancing his messages with themes beyond the battle. This LP delved into male-female relations, and urged the people to put down the drugs, protect their bodies, and stop killing. Still controversial, the same MC who seemingly defended the B-X pioneers on the last album, was now asserting his rhyme supremacy. B.D.P. stood for saying something, one of the most resonant overlapping traits of their first two albums. An election year, there was a ton going on in America in 1988, from “politricks,” to crack cocaine, to AIDs, to gang violence. Larry Parker was ready to speak on all of it, and it seemed that any time he opened his mouth, he could educate, entertain, and be “ruthless and wild” together. Up against the wall, KRS put B.D.P. on his sole back, and went forth with Hip-Hop following.

Album Number: 2
Released: April 12, 1988
Label: Jive/RCA Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #75 (certified gold, September 1989)
Song Guests: DJ Kenny Parker
Song Producers: (self)

So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.

Related: See Round 1 (The 1980s) of Ambrosia For Heads’ Finding The GOAT: The Albums