Words By Zoe Zorka
Over the past four decades, hip-hop has risen from an obscure genre to a dominating force of western culture. The Source was lucky enough to sit down with the original God-MC, hip-hop legend Rakim, following a recent show at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City in conjunction with Sundance Film Festival and promoted by Gage Luce of 12G Agency.
The Source: Thank you for coming to Utah and blessing us with your presence. You’re a legend and that was an amazing concert. So it’s been 30 years since The Source debuted and it’s been 30 years since “Follow the Leader.” What do you think in hip hop has changed and what has stayed the same?
Rakim: I think what’s changed is hip-hop’s much more diverse and has spread across the country and is young in a lot of ways. But it’s still what it is. It still has that vigor and that magnetic attraction. So I think it’s going to stick around for a long time.
I agree! So what does it mean to be a “God MC”?
I think just you know, being at the top of your game and something about you that stands out and something that makes you that much more original and distinctive. That’s what separates MCs from great MCs.
And your sound is definitely distinctive. You kind of came up with The Source. This is the 30th Anniversary of your with Eric B classic album, Follow the Leader. The Source is also celebrating a “Big 30”. This year is our 30th anniversary. What is your favorite Source moment?
That’s a good question. I think when they did the Top 50 MCs, that was one of my favorites. It was good because for the first time they kind of put a number on it and it was good to see what The Source, the world, thought of the artists out at the time. And it still affects the game and artists today.
After 30 years, do you have any regrets or anything you’d do differently?
I think my journey and anybody’s journey, defines who you are- the bad points and the good points. So I don’t think I’d change anything. I think if anything, I would have been a little more assertive, but even that, everything happens for a reason so you have let things be, accept it, and try to capitalize what you have in front of you.
Capitalize on everything, absolutely. So right now, you’re stranded on a desert island, what five songs or artists are on your playlist? Old artists, new artists, doesn’t matter.
Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Bob James, and um…
Any new artists that you’d have to pick?
Um, it’s a hard choice. I like a bunch of the new artists. I like J. Cole, I like Kendrick, that’s a hard one. I think but what I’d do is put a nice CD together since I’m going to be there for a long time, because music- I get asked that a lot. It’s a hard question- especially for someone like me who loves music and diverse music. It’s hard to pick five. But salute to everyone in the hip-hop game, young and old. Let’s keep this thing alive.
Ok, this is the hardest question. Since we’re Utah and there’s a blizzard going on outside right now, are you more of a summer person or winter person?
Oh, summer person for sure.
Our last question. Who do you think will win the super bowl?
[Laughter] Um, Tom Brady… I love football so I just want to see a good game. I just want to see the best two teams possible at the time play and I think I’ll be satisfied.
Thank you again. We are blessed to be with a legend.
Shout out to The Source magazine. Thirty? That’s hard. At a time, where there’s a lot of computing things going on, to keep doing what you do, to help progress hip-hop and feed the masses with information… Keep doing what you’re doing. We appreciate it.