It’s pretty well-established by now that the rappers of yesteryear just don’t like where the genre has ended up. Despite rap’s current status as the most popular genre in the US (with its rising popularity elsewhere causing world governments to hit the panic button in response to its outsized influence on youth movements globally), pioneers like Pete Rock and old-school aficionados like Joe Budden seem to absolutely hate rappers like Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, and even Vince Staples for their irreverent attitudes toward the genre’s past and nonchalant approach to lyricism.
Now, rap pioneer Rakim (of Eric B. And Rakim, creators of classic records like “Paid In Full,” “I Ain’t No Joke,” and “Microphone Fiend“) has entered the fray. Unlike some of his social media rant-prone peers, he found a slightly more subtle way to lament the current state of rap music, penning a tweet-long verse on the @EricBandRakim Twitter Monday. Since then, he says, the tweet has “reached almost 1 million people.” He takes care to point out that he differentiates “rap” from “hip-hop” in a follow-up tweet, saying “If you don’t know the difference, you can’t make a difference.”
While he may have access to metrics that tell him otherwise, he may be overstating the impact of the tweet in question, which currently only has around 6,400 retweets and 12,000 likes, but his own impact on both the genre and the culture can’t be overstated at all. It was Rakim — along with contemporaries like Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap — who was credited with advancing the complexity of lyricism within rap music, filling his verses with densely-packed rhyme schemes that changed the way future rappers like Jay-Z and especially Nas would approach their craft. It makes a lot of sense that he would take issue with rap’s newfound affinity for melody and unconventional song structure over endless assonant rhyming. It’s also kind of ironic, considering one of his own biggest hits started off with “check out my melody.”