"I had to give the audience more than just words. I had to give them an experience."

The title for today's post comes from Rakim's memoir/writing guide, Sweat the Technique, specifically the chapter "From High School to Rap Star," in which Rakim talks about going on tour for the first time. We'll continue to discuss the book later this week, but in the meantime check out these concert flyers, which span nearly two decades, from what must be one of Rakim's earliest NYC shows in 1986 all the way up to an ill-fated 2004 date. While you browse, here are some "thoughts to guide."
  • Between the first and second flyer above, Eric B. & Rakim's debut album, Paid In Full, dropped on July 7, 1987. What the posters won't show you is that Rakim would've still been in high school when he and Eric B. set off on the Def Jam Tour. There's a great passage in the book where Rakim talks about getting the blessing from his parents to leave school to hit the road.
  • The October 4, 1987 show featured a then-21-year-old Too Short in an early slot on the bill.
  • The November 21, 1987 bill is for Rakim's first show in Toronto, Canada (more on this later in the week).
  • The series of July 1988 concert flyers shows how stacked Eric B. & Rakim's schedule was at the time; it appears on July 24 they were either double-booked or did shows in both Stockton, California and Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • July 24, 1988 also happens to be the eve of the Follow the Leader album release, which along with the rising sales of Paid In Full, helps explain how Eric B. & Rakim jump from second or third billing to the headline slot around this time.
  • The August 4, 1988 concert flyer for Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas shows that Rakim was swinging through the Lone Star State when DJ Screw was coming up, as suggested earlier, though we can only speculate as to whether Screw made it to one of the Dope Jam Tour dates.
  • The lack of any posters between 1992 and 1998 is perhaps not insignificant; listeners will remember that The 18th Letter dropped in November 1997 following a five-year hiatus during which time Rakim was entangled in a legal battle over his and Eric B.'s contract with MCA.

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