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Famous Like Me > Composer > R > Rakim

Profile of Rakim on Famous Like Me

Name: Rakim  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 28th January 1968
Place of Birth: Wyandanch, New York, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

William Michael Griffin (born January 28, 1968), better known as Rakim, is a legendary East Coast MC. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest MCs in rap history due to his rapid rhyming and strong voice.


Rakim was born in Wyandanch, New York, which is in Suffolk County on Long Island. He is the nephew of R&B star Ruth Brown and was involved in the rap scene at a young age. He converted to Islam in 1984.

In 1985, he met the Queens-based DJ Eric B. Soon after, they formed a musical partnership. During the 1980s, Eric B. and Rakim released a number of very influental songs to the hip hop scene. Their most famous is probably "Paid in Full", which has become a hip hop classic. It has been remixed by the British DJ collective Coldcut, sampled in Tupac's song "Hit 'Em Up", and covered by Snoop Dogg during a party scene in the Will Ferrell movie Old School. Another of Eric B. & Rakim's hits from this era is "Microphone Fiend", which was covered in the 1990s by Rage Against the Machine.

In 1992, the duo broke up. Due to legal wrangling over royalties and his contracts with his record label and with Eric B., Rakim did not release a solo album for five years. He returned in 1997 with the album The 18th Letter, which was well received and was certified gold. The album was released in two versions, one of which included a greatest-hits package titled The Book of Life.

In 1999, he released The Master, which failed to crack the Top 50 on Billboard's album chart. Soon after, Rakim was signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment record label, for work on an album tentatively titled Oh My God, but it has not been released. Rakim left (or was dropped) from the label in 2003, a result of creative differences.

On April 27, 2004, Rakim was arrested regarding an outstanding paternity matter from 2001. The rapper said he was unaware of the warrant, but he agreed to pay $2,000 in child support for his 14 year old son. He was released the next day but due to the warrant, that night's performance opening for Ghostface of the Wu-Tang Clan at the Roseland Ballroom was canceled.

As a hip-hop icon, Rakim has generally refrained from personal sponsorship deals; one notable exception is his appearance in Hennessy print ads.


Many recent rappers (both underground and mainstream) acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style; some of his more prominent fans include Saul Williams and Nas who dedicated a song to Rakim, "U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)", on his album, Street's Disciple. Rakim has also recently appeared in the Juelz Santana video Mic Check.

Eric B. & Rakim were also credited with spurring renewed interest in classic R&B music due to their heavy sampling of such artists as James Brown.



With Eric B:

  • Paid in Full (1987)
  • Follow the Leader (1988)
  • Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em (1990)
  • Don't Sweat the Technique (1992)


  • The 18th Letter (1997)
  • The 18th Letter/The Book of Life (1997)
  • The Master (1999)

Other tracks

  • "Friends" (with Jody Watley) (1989)
  • "Heat It Up" (from the soundtrack to the film Gunmen) 1993
  • "Shades of Black" (from the Pump Ya Fist: Hip-Hop Inspired by the Black Panthers album) (1995)
  • "Addictive" (with Truth Hurts) (2002)

Awards & Honors

  • Paid in Full was certified gold by the RIAA in 1987 and platinum in 1985.
  • Follow the Leader (in 1988) and Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em (in 1990) were certified gold by the RIAA.
  • The 18th Letter and The 18th Letter/The Book of Life were both certified gold by the RIAA in 1997.
  • In 2004, the magazine Entertainment Weekly named Paid in Full as the greatest rap/hip-hop album of all time.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Rakim