Rakim Reveals What He Hates About How He Recorded His Verses (Audio)

For their third episode of Season 2 of What’s Good With Stretch & Bobbito, the hosts welcome Rakim. The highly-venerated rapper is widely considered one of the greatest lyricists of all time. His four albums with his partner Eric B. are considered part of the gold standard of Hip-Hop, while his three solo records continued to prove his lyricism was ahead of its time. The three cultural icons sat down for a conversation that covered everything from Ra’s earliest recording when he went by Kid Wizard, to joining the 5 Percent Nation while still in high school, to his feelings on the kneeling protests in the NFL.

At one point he admits he never finished his secondary education. However, The 18th Letter makes it clear that he isn’t a drop-out, as his parents had him officially released to go on his first tour. He says he had to promise them that he would eventually get his GED, to which Bobbito responds, “And did you?” Ra snaps back, “Ay, Bobbito, man, stop asking questions like that on the air. [Laughs]” The heralded wordsmith then reveals that he received an honorary degree from an overseas university, and believes his parents would have been proud.

Eric B. & Rakim Name Their 5 Most Important Hip-Hop Songs Of All-Time (Video)

Even more interesting is the answer the Long Island, New Yorker gives when asked by Bobbito what verse he wishes he could have gone back in and redone. After the three share a couple of laughs about how “The R” is infallible, Rakim admits, “I’m my worst critic. There’s plenty of my songs that I wish I could have had more time with. One of the things I always hated is that I wrote my rhymes in the studio and I would read ‘em from the book straight [into the microphone for] the recording. And when I look back, I would have memorized my song a little bit better so that I could say it with a little more feeling…I regret that to this day,” he says at 26:00. Considering that his verses became the template for all rappers that followed, the statement is mind-blowing. It means game-changing songs like “Paid In Full” and “Microphone Fiend” could have potentially been even better.

Rakim is presently preparing his memoir, co-authored by Touré.