It's crazy to think that Rakim was just a chance meeting away from becoming a college football player instead of becoming Rakim the God. In a sitdown interview with ego trip‘s Chairman Mao, Rakim talked about his influences (which included Grandmaster Caz and Melle Mel, as you might expect), whether or not he thought he was the best emcee ever, and the first time he met Eric B. (skip to the 25:30 mark). That meeting was a life changing one:
"This is at the point where I was about to go to college. This cat on my football team...brought Eric B. to the crib. They was like, 'Yo, this is Eric B. He's looking for an emcee.' You know, me being an arrogant dude, I'm sitting there looking at Eric B. like, 'Yo Al man, I'm about to go to college and play ball. Why you bringing this dude over. I told you don't be bringing nobody to the crib man.'"
Rakim decided Eric B. was down after he learned of his connections with Mr. Magic and Marley Marl, but was hesitant after having his mind set on college football. Eric B. convinced Rakim to record with him after telling him he could be a feature on a song without signing a record contract. That record "did good" and years later we have some of hip-hop's finest albums and one of the dopest movie theme songs ever.
And as for his place as arguably the greatest emcee ever?
"I'm one of my worst critics but at the same time I like to toot my own horn...I've always felt I was a step beyond what a lot of emcees was doing.
Check out the full interview, which includes insight on the making of "Don't Sweat the Technique" and Paid in Full, above.
[via Miss Info]