Music Article

Hip-hop milestones: ''Paid in Full'' and Public Enemy

Spike Lee, Public Enemy | NO. 5: Public Enemy get political
Image credit: Public Enemy: Michael Ochs Archive
NO. 5: Public Enemy get political
Eric B. & Rakim's Paid in Full made hip-hop a true art form, doing for rap what Bob Dylan did for rock in the mid-'60s. ''Paid in Full marked the point when hip-hop grew out of its infancy,'' says Dana Smart, who coproduced the recent two-disc deluxe reissue of the CD. Eric B.'s James Brown-driven beats are devastatingly funky, but it’s Rakim's commanding vocals that make this a classic. Considered by many to be the greatest rapper of all time, he brought technical intricacy, cinematic details, and poetic metaphors to a genre previously ruled by A-B-A-B patterns and simplistic party rhymes. Seventeen years later, the album still sounds astonishing.
Originally posted Nov 11, 2004

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