The hip-hop legend doesn’t knock those who can’t see the difference, but, that is not an excuse.

Last week, unmatched legendary hip-hop duo Eric B. and Rakim triggered an eruption of debates when their verified Twitter account tweeted the following statement in regards to the current state of the hip-hop music genre:

“You are now witnessing the devolution of rap music. The death of poetry and smoothness, they use this. The absence of a message. This inability to create meaningful change through words and verses, but the worse is, they don’t even know they hurt this artful purpose, it’s tragic.”

Several Eric B. and Rakim fans and appreciators of hip-hop lyricism did not budge to approve the message. In fact, the statement opened a potent dialogue on social media among hip-hop heads who have commonly expressed the concern through their own ways and actions. The tweet has since been deleted. Despite the received praise, the God MC himself, Rakim Allah did not make the tweet nor did he have any information about its coming.

In a recent interview with TMZ, Rakim dropped insight about his stance on the modern day art form of rap and the quality of the current state of hip-hop culture. The legend stands firm on the fact veterans should allow young artists to be themselves but also seeks importance in them knowing the difference between hip-hop and rap. His solid veteran status grants his mind and soul the desire to see the hip-hop genre truly prosper.

“Hip-hop is taking a lot of different routes throughout the years. And me being around since 1986, I’ve seen hip-hop go through a lot. At this point, I just want to see it prosper,” said Rakim. “My thing is, you have to let young artists be young artists. I was once a young artist. It’s just to make sure that the people understand the difference between hip-hop and rap. I have no problem with rap, but I’m from more of the lyricist school.”

Now, Rakim does not knock new school artists for their works. He has an eye for how their projects are currently keeping the title of hip-hop alive, to an extent, it is the highest grossing music genre in the world. As someone whose hip-hop coming is founded on social and self-consciousness, Rakim has witnessed hip-hop’s primary edge get seized by the “champagne and jewelry” culture, mostly known as the “bling-bling” era.

“I’m from the era where it was a lot more conscious lyrics. A lot more substance. At that point, I think art was imitating the streets instead of the streets imitation the art.”

Of course, the Follow the Leader class act is not easily drawn up by the sounds of new school rap. While he does not deem any young artist for doing their thing, that does not take away from the reality of their faint and “degrading” musical content which is nonparallel to the core art form of emceeing.

“Without no disrespect to any artist, there’s a lot of degrading music out there man. As far as degrading the culture and degrading society as well man. But, that is individuals who choose to make that kind of music.”

The legend is also not letting hip-hop listeners off the hook, either. He seeks importance in listeners not only knowing the difference between hip-hop and rap but owning the might to be strategic with the music they choose to listen to and like. There is power in hip-hop listeners. Rakim finds if listeners were more “opinionated” with their tunes, it may encourage new school artists to make music with “a little more substance.”

“As the listeners, I think they should be a little more opinionated on what they listening to and what they like,” Rakim tells TMZ. “I think that will help not only whats out there, but the artist make conscious decisions to make music with a little more substance.”

It is apparent while Rakim didn’t make the tweet or have knowledge about it, he most certainly agrees with its context. This is someone whose contribution flipped the blueprint of context, flow, and rhymes for the hip-hop emcee in the late 80s. An act post generations sought after to mimic, but were unable to. It is safe to say, Rakim’s perspective is more like a lesson for those who wish to truly understand the essence of hip-hop culture.

Watch Rakim drop knowledge in his interview with TMZ, below.