DJ Ran Cypher Session ft. Rakim (1998 Freestyle)

Sometimes somebody says freestyle and means live performance of an existing verse/song possibly over a different beat than the recorded version. See yesterday's post, "Rakim - Rap City Interview & Freestyle." But then sometimes somebody says freestyle and means otherwise undocumented maybe improvised performance, and when that performance is by Rakim, your ears damn well better perk up like they have radar antennae attached. 

This is that: a little heard freestyle by Rakim. Another YouTube post dates it to 1998, which sounds about right. The 2nd beat Rakim annihilates was produced by Erick Sermon from the infamous LL Cool J posse cut "4,3,2,1," which I somehow for the first time just realized is almost exactly the same beat as Def Squad's "Full Cooperation" (also produced by Sermon). If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you don't know what the 1st beat is, how did you find me

This concludes the 8th (!) annual Rakim week. If you dug it, check out prior years' Rakim weeks as well as DJ Ran's YouTube, where you'll find more cypher sessions featuring other gifted MCs. Finally, happy belated birthday to the greatest rapper of all time, the God MC Rakim, and peace to anyone reading this.


Rakim - Rap City Interview & Freestyle

Here we have Rakim's appearance on Rap City Tha Basement. This was probably sometime in late 1999, as Ra was promoting his second solo album, The Master, which dropped in November of that year. In addition to plugging clothing company UBX (more on them later), Ra performs the DJ Premier-produced "When I Be On The Mic" and later kick his first verse from "It's a Must." Timeless! 


Rakim & J.PERIOD Present The Live Mixtape: God MC Edition

Rakim and J.PERIOD rang in 2021 with a very special installment of the latter's live mixtape series. Very special not just because it was the God MC Edition but because it was a three-parter, including a DJ set and a mini-documentary directed by Julia Liu in addition to a blazing live performance with speaking appearances by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Busta Rhymes. Total run time: 1 hour, 5 minutes and 18 seconds. Watch all three and stream/download the audio below.


Rakim & Damu the Fudgemunk - The Master Munk

As a rule of thumb, I've tried to avoid including blends in Rakim Week, opting instead for remixes if anything other than original songs. But this blend tape of Damu the Fudgemunk beats and Rakim vocals is in a whole other category. Seamlessly mixed and arranged by DJ Essential and Altered Crates, The Master Munk sounds so fluid it lives up to its time traveler back story, which essentially posits that the project stems from a crate of records that showed up on the DJ's doorstep in 1993, including several which hadn't yet been released, along with a note about "a seemingly limitless number of universes." Per Altered Crates, The Master Munk premiered "on this timeline" on February 5, 2021, putting LIRR almost a year behind schedule. Per physicist Julian Barbour, time is just "an illusion which emerges out of the law that governs the whole universe." 


Rakim - "Black Messiah"

With Fred Hampton Jr. (l) and DJ Free Leonard (r)
Every year around this time of year, Long Island Rap Records takes a week to celebrate the works of Rakim, one of the greatest poets and performers in history, who happens to be from Wyandanch, Long Island, and whose birthday happens to fall on January 28. A new Rakim song is always a cause for celebration and as it happens, the newest also fits into a playlist posted in a previous year's Rakim Week.  Released February 12, 2021, "Black Messiah" is an ode to Fred Hampton from the soundtrack to the biographical film, Judas and the Black Messiah, about the Black Panther Party leader and his betrayal at the hands of FBI informant William O'Neal. In his autobiography, Rakim wrote about his love of biographies, so it's no surprise that his song about Hampton succeeds in telling the revolutionary's story with much the same resonance as the Oscar-winning film. What is surprising is that Rakim was able to bang the song out in one day at the request of Fred Hampton Jr. himself (per a lecture at Grand Rapids Community College).


 "Black Messiah" has been added to Long Island Rap Records' YouTube playlist of Rakim's Soundtrack Work, which first launched in February 2018 and has been updated several times since.