Review Summary: The rhythm definitely hit me, and it hurt, but it definitely didn't hurt my eardrums.
Robert Christagu: A-
Entertainment Weekly: B-
Los Angeles Times: 4/5
Rolling Stone: 4/5
The Source: 5 Mics
Rakim, is an MC. Not only is Rakim an MC, but Rakim is also one of the emcees that you MUST put in, AT LEAST your top 3 emcees of all time. For any young, modern age rap (keep in mind that I said RAP and not HIP HOP) listener, you ask them who the best rappers are, they will most likely say anyone from the rap trio "YMCMB", and anyone who has a new song on the radio. Never will you hear them say that Rakim or KRS-One, or any legendary MC, are the best emcees of all time. Nonetheless, although that had almost nothing to do with this album, let's just review this.
If you have ever listened to Eric B and Rakim's first 2 albums, then you would know that they have a somewhat similar sound. However, if you have listened to this one, you would know, that their sound changed. How did their sound change you ask? Well, Rakim developed a lower, and more aggressive voice. By no means are these changes bad. Although it doesn't sound as good as their first 2 albums, it still is amazing.
If you know anything about Eric B and Rakim, then you know, that they didn't make music to be cool, or to be known as people who dress well. Eric B and Rakim basically just made music, to show off the incredible lyricism that Rakim possessed, and the great production, and scratching that Eric B did, so in otherwords, just to prove that they are masters of the tasks that they are meant to perform
Now for the review of the actual music. First of all, his first two albums DID have sctratching, but this album had a different style of scratching (to know the style of scratching that I am speaking of, listen to "Something 2 Dance 2" by N.W.A, it's around the beginning, or just listen to the track on this album "No Omega"). Another thing about the first 2 albums, were that they were short (around 10 or 11 tracks deep) and had 2 or 3 Eric B scratching solos, this album shares that same quality. This same quality was also shared in Illmatic by Nas (with the exclusion of the DJ solos that were mentioned). Now for the track by track review.
1. Let the Rhythm Hit Em: CLASSIC title song, arguably one of the best title songs on any hip hop album. This song has been sampled in the song, "City of Gods" by AZ, and other songs. 5/5
2. No Omega: Classic song, with the scratching style that I was talking about earlier. 5/5
3. In the Ghetto: Classic song, detailing what it's like to have lived in the ghetto one point in your life. This song has been sampled in the song, "Take It EZ" by Common, and other songs. 5/5
4. Step Back: Great song, that has Rakim straight spittin dope lyrics. 4/5
5. Eric B. Made My Day: One of the Eric B DJ solo tracks I was talking about earlier. This has Eric B scratch songs, such as "Peter Piper" by Run-D.M.C, and some other songs. Can't rate it though since it's just an instrumental track.
6. Run For Cover: Great song, that has Rakim spitting some more dope lyrics. 4/5
7. Untouchables: Great song, that has Rakim, you guessed it, spitting more dope lyrics. 4/5
8. Mahogany: CLASSIC, CLASSIC, CLASSIC!!!! This song is definitely no "I Need Love", but it definitely is another definitive hip hop love song. This song has been sampled in "New York State of Mind" Parts 1 and 2, by Nas. 5/5
9. Keep Em Eager to Listen: Great song, with more dope lyrics transmitted from Rakim's brain. 4/5
10. Set Em Straight: Classic song, and a phenomenal finale for this album. 5/5
Eric B's excellent production
No weak tracks
Sort of limited in subject matter
Overall, I give this 4.5/5, 9/10, 94/100, and my grade for it is "A".
3 Best Songs:
2. Let the Rhythm Hit Em
3. In the Ghetto
3 Weakest Songs:
1. Keep Em Eager to Listen
2. Step Back