November 30, 2008

Eric B. & Rakim - Follow The Leader (July 25, 1988)


Rounding out the month of stunt-blogging is Eric B. and Rakim's Follow The Leader, long considered to be the gold standard of one-two punch combinations (when partnered with their debut, Paid In Full, which is a fucking classic disc). It is generally considered to be one of the best hip hop albums of all time, even though nobody paid attention to it back in 1988 except for the families of the artists involved and a small legion of backpack-wearing fanatics.

Follow The Leader doesn't really expand on the formula created for Paid In Full: master lyricist Rakim Allah spits fire over beats compiled by Eric B., which are comprised of multiple samples mashed together into a cohesive beat (for the most part). This time around, though, Eric B. seems to have made a point of utilizing different types of samples in an effort to create a slightly different sound that what listeners fell in love with during Paid In Full.

I suppose I should be impressed that Rage Against The Machine covered "Microphone Fiend", one of the tracks Rakim is best known for today, for their covers album Renegades, but I just can't drum up the enthusiasm. I mean, fucking Limp Bizkit swiped some parts of Eric B. and Rakim's earlier track "My Melody" for their "My Way", and that doesn't make Fred Durst suddenly cool.

1. FOLLOW THE LEADER
Wow. This song is the fucking balls, based on the beat alone. Don't get me wrong, Rakim sounds as good as ever, but Eric B.'s creation has a dramatic flair that most artists can't be bothered with.

2. MICROPHONE FIEND
Rakim Allah spits a long verse over a relatively pleasant beat, and although "orientated" still isn't a word (see: AZ on Nas's "Life's A Bitch", from Illmatic), the rhymes are good. The beat does some stupid shit toward the end that I didn't care for, though.

3. LYRICS OF FURY
The sense of urgency presented here is courtesy of the awesome drum loop. Also, there's never been a question as to whether Rakim would be capable of rhyming to a track such as this: there's a reason he's who I consider to be the best rapper alive, folks.

4. ERIC B. NEVER SCARED
The deejay cut. However, this one is really fucking boring. And long.

5. JUST A BEAT
This is, literally, "just a beat". It's not a very interesting one, wither, but unlike the previous track, this one is short.

6. PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER
I could have done without the odd interlude that precedes the track. Actually, I could have done without the entire track, now that I think about it.

7. TO THE LISTENER
I fucking hated the beat for this shit.

8. NO COMPETITION
While it's a step in the right direction, and will go a long way toward bringing back listeners, this still isn't a very memorable track. What the fuck happened, guys?

9. THE R
For a Rakim song, this is kind of stupid. The lyrics are mostly good, up until the long-ass hook, and I'm not one hundred percent on what he was trying to accomplish with that.

10. MUSICAL MASSACRE
Finally, a song that is pretty damn good. It's not one of Eric B.'s or Rakim's classic tracks, but it's deserving of your attention, especially after four songs that weren't so hot. Finding unheralded gems such as this is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog to begin with.

11. BEATS FOR THE LISTENERS
Essentially a tweaked instrumental for "To The Listener", which is fucking fantastic, since, if you'll recall, I fucking hated that song. Honestly, you'll probably take the disc out before you even get to this track, so I suppose it doesn't truly matter.

FINAL THOUGHTS: What the hell? Follow The Leader was actually really really disappointing. While there are a few classic tracks that deserve to be in the hall of fame, the album falters due to Eric B.'s experimentation with the samples used for the beats, which more often than not fail to engage anybody. In contrast, Paid In Full contained instrumentals that grabbed the attention of the listeners, and probably inspired the majority of the rappers that debuted in the mid-1990's to first pick up the microphone. Lyrically, Rakim Allah hasn't lost a step, but the extent to which a rapper can get his message across is directly proportional to the beats the artist is provided. I repeat: what the hell?

BUY OR BURN? Sorry, you two, this is just a burn. (You can curse me out in the comments all you want, but I have a feeling that this post will elicit less of a response that the previous 2Pac write-up.) Paid In Full is simply the better album. Fans of hip hop in general should definitely be sure to pick up the tracks listed below, though.

BEST TRACKS: "Lyrics Of Fury"; "Follow The Leader"; "Musical Massacre"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Eric B. & Rakim - Paid In Full

27 comments:

  1. Max you make my day

    Damn good album

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  2. I have been up on this site since you started and I've seen plenty of bullshit. I usually shake it off but know I know you're a fucking dumb ass with no real hip hop in you. I hope your "two" readers continue to enjoy your "reviews".

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  3. Large Pro said it best Max you need to get off that bullshit

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  4. Burn? WTF? Smack your face with the monitor dumb ass.

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  5. I guess Phife busted a nut inside you eye and showed you where he comes from. That's the only logical reason I see that you would only think this is worth the burn.

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  6. Disappointing is some of the albums and mixtapes that you actually recommend a purchase. I see nothing wrong with Follow The Leader.

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  7. Real HH Reigns SupremeNovember 30, 2008

    Fans of hip hop should be sure to tell Max to take his opinions and go fuck himself. Too bad this blog never had credibility because it would have been long lost before this review.

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  8. Paid In Full is the better album but this is still great. I guess people have different tastes though.

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  9. BraynezOnDrug$November 30, 2008

    Go listen to some ICP, real hip hop isn't for everyone.

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  10. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessDecember 01, 2008

    I completely agree with your review Max. I guess I should probably start sucking cocks now.

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  11. It's a great album, Max...!

    It's a pleasure to listen early Rakim verses and his voice is at the top. I don't understand your recommendation, really.

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  12. Ehhhhh. I think you guys writing angry comments are ignoring the core of Max' review, which is that this album has CLASSIC SONGS, but may not be a classic album. I gotta admit, half the album is amazing and half of it isn't.

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  13. wow how routine do peoples lives have to be in order to have their days completely fucked up by a mans opinion on an album that came out 20 years ago.

    by the way the term real hip hop is so misused its not even funny. My definition of real hip hop is so different than everyone else's and probably max's as well

    as for everyone else, whats all the fuss about? Max aint dissin rakim, hes talkin about the beats and in my opinion they either sound really dated or just whack in general. I agree with you max

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  14. Crust and Grimes you fucking Max or something?

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  15. Fuck this old school shit. Everything from before 97 ain't even relevant. Old school heads need to drop dead already. Not 97 anymore my brothas. Good call on this one Max!

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  16. before '97, really...? are you serious? so i guess illmatic is garbage then... o and reasonable doubt... o and B.I.G. sucks too then, and 2pac, and every other mc that would run circles around today's shit. man your confusing 'old school head' with 'hip hop head,' sometimes shit from back in the day is just better, sometimes its not, but don't be a dumbass and say all old school joints suck.

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  17. fuck this piece of shit!!!!!!!!!! yeah paid in full is better than this one but this album doesnt suck, cuz its definitely a classic, quit it with these reviews!!!!!!!!

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  18. "Fuck this old school shit. Everything from before 97 aint even relevant. Old school heads need to drop dead already. Not 97 anymore brothas'

    Well mr Anonymous its very obvious that you know nothing about hip hop, if you were a hip hop fan ever sine 89 or 91 or 95, you would of understand but since your just a 13 year old who knows nothing about hip hop, i suggest you get out of this shit, hip hop does not concern to you, hip hop is not only music, its a culture home boy so respect that

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  19. orientated is a word - it's in the OED.

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  20. eric b was experimenting a different stlye of production, every producer in hip hop do the same , you cant blame eric b for what you call this album "disappointing", eric b's production here is great max, so what if it didnt have the same stlye of beats like Paid in Full, this album still shines

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  21. Man bitches be catching feelings, eh? People seem to forget what the core of a review is, that of one man's opinion. If you think this entire album is a classic, I don't think one man's opinion is going to change that. If you agree, then congratulations. You have something in common with Max.

    I'm not an oldschool head, because I can't be, I'm a hiphop head. I was born in 91, when Illmatic and Organized Konfusion came out. I can still appreciate the impact and the kick-assery these classic and oldschool albums have, even if I was a youngin when they were released. So to the above commentators, age has jack shit to do with knowing whether or not an album is classic or not, it's called having ears and common sense.

    This album is quite dated in my opinion. There are some CLASSIC joints that will forever stand the test of time, but I'm with Max. While experimenting can pay off, for the most part Eric B. really alienated me from the overall joy of this album cause I didn't like his sample selection. I cannot for the life of me spin this record from start to finish and be happy, Paid In Full I can but not Follow the Leader.

    Quote me all you want haters, but you can't change my opinion. Rakim did not falter at all on this album, but one man can only carry an album so far when the production is lacking.

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  22. I agree completely with this review, except that I hated the beat to "Lyrics of Fury" as well. I was shocked when I heard this album.

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  23. eric b didn't produce any of his album!!!! and it still a classic

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  24. I can't imagine anyone not liking this album... who doesn't also do the Carlton Banks dance while listening to it alone in their bedroom.

    Unfortunately I can't listen to this with '88 ears. Not enduring, not a classic. The first minute of "To the Listener" makes me feel as rootless and confused as a young man coming to grips with his homosexuality. Is this serious? Did they really back up that dope drum track with the melody from some crappy 80's crime comedy film montage where the detective tracks down pointless leads and interviews sullen and uncooperative people in the street? Should I continue listening? Should I kill myself? Would my time have been better served by watching Cop Rock on Youtube?

    Much better...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqTiA_LyV3k

    PEACE.

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  25. Christ, let the man have an opinion. If everyone thought the same, the world would be a very VERY boring place. Everyone is entitled to an opinion... unless you think all hip hop before 97 is irrelevant, in which case you forfeit your opinion automatically but that is the only exception. Represent England!!!

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  26. Max,

    Your website, your opinion...

    But I disagree

    And, unlike these motherfuckers above, I'll tell you exactly why.

    There IS NO perfect album. Period.

    This album isn't perfect. Then again, neither was Paid In Full.

    OK, Let's go:

    Point blank. As a fan,I do NOT enjoy a DJ cut, or a hip-hop instrumental by itself.

    To the Listener was a fucking travesty.

    The R sounds pretty dated, and as a result, not many people will like it, however I am one of the few who still loves this shit.

    Other than the abovementioned, you have no valid point.

    Hilarious writing, though. I'm one of your two readers.

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  27. What happened?

    Eric B musically never moved the fuck on since 86. That's the horseshit that you're hearing on this record.

    The "hall of fame" shit? That, my good sir, is the 45 King's handiwork.

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