14. Eric B. & Rakim, Don't Sweat The Technique (1992)
Having established itself as one of the true heavyweights of hip-hop with its first three albums, Eric B. & Rakim, sagged a bit with its fourth and final effort, Don’t Sweat The Technique. Sales were about the same, but reviews were mixed. Entertainment Weekly complained the duo had “gone back to the well too many times, retaining the technique without maintaining the energy” and Spin grew tired of “Eric B.’s meat-and-potatoes approach to assembling tracks.”
Looking back, it seems clear what the problem was; the album is badly sequenced. It buries the lede, inexplicably beginning with “What’s On Your Mind,” a day in the life of Rakim in which he meets a girl, gets dissed, and disses her back (albeit relatively politely: “You don’t really look good; I hope you have a bad day”) and later meets up with her and they watch the Cosby Show.
Meanwhile, incendiary classics like the politically charged “Casualties of War,” in which Rakim chillingly raps from the perspective of a soldier going AWOL in the first Iraq War, and “Know The Ledge,” immortalized in the classic hood movie Juice, are thrown unceremoniously into the middle of the album.