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by Darin Gloe
6 March, 2008@6:19 am
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“It’s been long time, since I left you, without a dope beat to step to.”  Isn’t the truth, it’s been nine long years since we have heard from the god Rakim.  So when “It’s Nothing”, the first single from Live Lost And Found was leaked, you can imagine the excitement from this kid, a student of the 90’s era of hip-hop. Unfortunately, the excitment came to a halt, when it was revealed the new “album” has only four new songs and the rest  live renditions of Rakim’s classics.  Better than nothing, but we’ll still continue to wait for a full-length.

The album starts off with the Nick Wiz produced banger “Hip-Hop”.  Rakim hasn’t lost a step lyrically with lines like “it’s Mr. World renowned with the best verbs/one of the illest of the streets from the east to the west heard/get greeted with ghetto gestures like yes sir/no premeditated killer for the way I stretch words/some of us love to flow till the club close/some love to blow for the love of dough/in it for fortune and fame flamboyant for good/they extorting the game/exploiting the hood”. It’s best to stop there, but the whole song could be quoted, as that is how on point Rakim is with his lyrics. On “Love 4 Sale”, Rakim spits about prostitution over a Nick Wiz soulful chop.  Unlike “Hip-Hop” where the production is stripped down and let’s Rakim really flex his lyrically prowess, “Love 4 Sale” is a sped up vocal sample where Rakim seems to be the background, not the forefront.  “Word on Street” sounds like a throwaway D-Block track, with a terrible hook from some unknown R&B crooner.  There was a reason why this was unreleased.  DJ Statik shows up to provide Rakim the backdrop for the final new track from the album “It’s Nothing”.  Statik abandon’s Rakim’s usual up-tempo flow for an eerie darker feel, as Ra spits about the state of hip-hop, and hits the nail on the head with lyrics like “We Stuck in a time of drought/nothing to rhyme about/ghetto and crime on the grime pull an iron out/industry crying out/major labels buying out/who put the fire out real hip-hop is dying out/sounds like the perfect time for Ra to set off the new beginning/let me finish where Nas left off”. He also speaks on the Dr. Dre and Aftermath situation “I went to LA to get with Dre/we tried to bridge the gap and/take night and mix it with day/I guess it wasn’t meant to happen”. Once again it could do without the singing in the chorus. Where’s Eric B?

The rest of the album is made up of live versions of Rakim classics.  Live from New York, Rakim hits us with “It’s Been a Long Time”, “Follow the Leader”, “Guess Who’s Back”, “Know the Ledge” and other classics while the DJ cuts and drops the beats.  This part of the CD is worth the purchase alone.

All in all its 50/50, there are two solid tracks and two average tracks, which  will have to tide us over until either (A) The Aftermath sessions leak or (B) Rakim gets in the studio and gives a fresh new project for ’08 and beyond.  Either way, it is nice to hear Rakim on the mic after so long. He is still giving us what we want to hear lyrically, but we want to hear him back in the studio with Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Clark Kent, Da Beatminerz and anybody else who wants to make classic music.  Somebody at Aftermath has to have those masters. Don’t worry about your job, just leak it. It won’t hurt anybody, give us what we need. Anyone…?! - Darin Gloe

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