Eric B. & Rakim are one of the most influential hip-hop duos in history, and Rakim is universally recognized as one of the greatest—if not the greatest—MCs of all time. In an episode of the Netflix docuseries Hip-Hop Evolution, Shad K. asserts that “Rakim’s rhyme style would singlehandedly set the tone for what hip-hop has become today.” Later in the episode, Rakim explains that since he grew up listening to jazz and learning to play saxophone, he always tried to rhyme like John Coltrane played the sax. In contrast to rappers like Run-DMC and Chuck D., who were energetically shouting on the mic, Rakim’s approach was more methodical. His clear, concise style is the definition of flow; some say he may have even been the one to make “flow” a thing.
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