Eric B. Biography
DJ Eric B. (born Eric Barrier) and MC Rakim created the American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim in 1986 in Long Island, New York (born William Michael Griffin Jr.). “Eric B. & Rakim were nearly widely acclaimed as the greatest DJ/MC duo in all of hip-hop during rap’s so-called golden age in the late ’80s,” according to AllMusic. “The most influential DJ/MC combo in current mainstream music period,” according to NPR’s Tom Terrell. They were placed No. 5 on About.com’s list of the 10 Greatest Hip-Hop Duos of All Time, and they were also ranked No. 5 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.
Eric B. was born Eric Barrier in Elmhurst, Queens, in 1965, and his future partner, William Griffin, Jr., was born in 1968 in the New York suburbs, namely Wyandanch, Long Island. Griffin turned to Islam at the age of 16 and took the name Rakim Allah. Barrier started out playing trumpet and guitar, but in high school switched to turntables and finally found a position as a mobile DJ for radio station WBLS. In 1985, he met Rakim there, and the two officially formed a collaboration. Their first song, “Eric B. Is President” (a tribute to Barrier’s DJ abilities) b/w “My Melody,” was published on the indie label Zakia, which is situated in Harlem.During the summer of 1986, it was a street-level sensation, and the duo was scooped up by the larger 4th & Broadway label. The equally important tracks “I Ain’t No Joke” and “I Know You Got Soul,” which sampled James Brown and his collaborator Bobby Byrd, respectively, revolutionized the sound of hip-hop with their total funkiness. Furthermore, Rakim’s statement on the later track, “pump up the volume,” was sampled and became the basis for M/A/R/R/S’ hit of the same name.
Paid in Full, the duo’s full-length debut, was released in 1987 on 4th & Broadway, and it surged into the Top Ten on the R&B LP charts thanks to a strong underground buzz (as would all of their subsequent albums).
Coldcut, a British DJ combo, remixed the title track and turned it into a bona fide UK hit. The exposure helped make the drum track from “Paid in Full” one of the most sampled rhythms since James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” and it was used to create Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True,” among many other, more credible songs. Following Paid in Full, Eric B. & Rakim signed with MCA subsidiary Uni and released another seminal hip-hop album, 1988’s Follow the Leader, which cemented their legacy. The title track quickly established itself among the duo’s iconic records, and Jody Watley tapped them for a cameo appearance on her 1989 single “Friends,” which catapulted them into the pop Top Ten for the first and only time.
Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em, released in 1990, was a bit of a letdown in terms of creativity, but Don’t Sweat the Technique, released in 1992, was a more consistent affair that cemented their legacy. The record, it turned out, also fulfilled that legacy. The duo’s MCA contract was coming to an end, and they were talking about each making a solo album. Unfortunately, the subsequent anxiety regarding their partnership’s future ended up destroying it.
For a long period following the breakup, different legal concerns hindered both sides from launching their independent careers. Rakim’s debut solo cut, “Heat It Up,” which was featured on the soundtrack of the 1993 film Gunmen, was the sole track to appear. Eric B. finally released his self-titled solo debut in 1995 on his own 95th Street label. Rakim joined Universal and released two critically praised comeback albums, The 18th Letter in 1997 and The Master in 1999.
Frequently Asked Questions
Eric B. & Rakim?
What Is The Eric B And Rakim Hit Album?
The Eric B and Rakim hit album is “Paid in Full.
How Old Was Rakim When Paid In Full Came Out?
Rakim was just 20 years old when his debut album, Paid in Full, was released in 1987.