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The 50 Greatest Sophomore Albums in Hip-Hop History

10. Eric B. & Rakim, Follow the Leader (1988)

Label: Uni, MCA

As a product of its environment, Paid In Full was a collection of great singles bundled together with equal measures of filler. Although Follow The Leader slows down for the second half, the opening three tracks present the most hard-hitting trio of songs since the start of N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton.

"Follow The Leader," "Lyrics of Fury," and "Microphone Fiend" are musically and lyrically impeccable, as Rakim rose above the Brag Rap constraints of his peers to unleash a new standard in MCing. The title track alone was unlike anything ever heard before, as The R took us on a journey into outer space as he pushed himself beyond the confines of the stage and challenged the listener to think beyond novelty dance steps and songs about skeezers over a cinematic collection of strings and horn hits.

Even accomplished MCs like Kool G Rap hurried back to the lab to sharpen their pen game in response to the intensity that The 7th Letter delivered. This album saw Rakim forever cement his position as a formidable force in the rap game.

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