Producer: Eric. B
Album: Paid in Full
Label: Zakia, 4th & Broadway

In recent years the discussion about this song has been all about who really produced it, Marley Marl or Eric B. We get why hip-hop heads would fret over the credits, but we'd rather concern ourselves with the grooves and rhymes. Rakim, the greatest rapper to ever rap about rapping, set the tone right away on this track, bursting out with, "I came in the door, I said it before/I never let the mic magnetize me no more." It's more than just the beats and rhymes though, it was Rakim's delivery that made him so exceptional: In an era when it felt like every rapper was competing to outshout the other, The 18th Letter's flow was smooth as syrup and as calm as the eye of the storm. That made him revolutionary then, but peep how well his music has aged compared to his contemporaries now and keep following the leader. - Insanul Ahmed