On this date in 1987, Eric B. & Rakim released their debut studio album, Paid in Full, which contains one of the most important songs in hip hop history: “Paid in Full”.
Recorded at Marley Marl’s home studio, “Paid in Full” innovative production and lyrical sophistication had a profound influence on the development of hip hop. It inspired a new generation of rappers and producers to experiment with complex lyrics and intricate sampling techniques.
British DJ and TV & radio presenter, Tim Westwood picked it as one of his favourites in 1995, adding, “This defines the sound of hip hop for years to come. Rakim was the greatest lyricist of all time. Incredible lyrics—they conjure up incredible imagery.”
Rolling Stone magazine named “Paid in Full” the tenth greatest hip hop song of all time and number 123nd best song on their “Top 500 Best Songs of All Time”. Rakim’s wordplay was praised and comparisons were drawn to American jazz musician John Coltrane: “His [Rakim’s] incandescent thought-bubble rap—barely a minute long—is all iced flow and sly beat-dodging, a good-vs.-evil meditation that calmly frames thug life inside real-life economics and a novelist’s eye for detail.”
𝘝𝘏1 placed the song at number 24 on their list of the “100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs”.
The official music video above, “Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness)”, is the remixed version by English dance music duo Coldcut who were commissioned to produce. When “Paid in Full” was eventually released as the album’s fifth and final single, it became a hit in American clubs. It experienced much more commercial success overseas, however, thanks largely to the Coldcut remix. “Seven Minutes of Madness” became one of the first commercially successful remixes, becoming a top fifteen hit in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coldcut were paid 700 pounds for their remix work. Despite its success, Eric B. dismissed the remix as “girly disco music”; Rakim, however, called it the best remix he had ever heard.
Happy 36th anniversary, Paid in Full!
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Featured image via Duke Council on Race and Ethnicity.