When emcee extraordinaire Rakim and his right-hand man, producer Eric B., arrived on the scene in the mid-Eighties, they ushered in a revolution. Before them, acts like RUN DMC and LL Cool J were rap’s vanguard – rock-solid leading man types who built their songs around bold, direct declarations.
Rakim dared to dream bigger. A sophisticated, cerebral character, he explored unheard-of levels of wordplay in his lyrics, packing each line with internal rhymes and complex syllable patterns that fans and fellow artists spent weeks analyzing. The two friends from Long Island were barely out of their teens when they recorded their debut single, “Eric B Is President” (1986). Eric B. looped up a hard-hitting, funky James Brown sample, setting the stage for Rakim to unspool three verses of inspired poetry: “I came in the door/I said it before/I never let the mic magnetize me no more/But it’s biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme…” That endlessly quotable song scored them a major-label deal in no time. They emphatically delivered on its promise with their first LP, Paid In Full (1987), and continued to sharpen their skills on Follow The Leader (1988), the tougher-sounding Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em (1989) and their swan song, Don’t Sweat The Technique (1992). All four albums were hugely influential – it is difficult to imagine contemporary stars like Jay-Z and Eminem existing at all without them. Eric B. & Rakim parted ways after six years as a duo, but the body of work they created in that time remains monumental.
The legendary duo are to finally be recognized by the institution as next year’s ceremony will mark twenty-five years since the release of their prolific debut single, “Eric B is President”.
Eric B and Rakim have been shortlisted among 15 other acts to be included in the ballot for next year’s ceremony. In order to be inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, nominees must have released a debut single/album a minimum of twenty-five years ago, hence the duo’s long wait.
The Hall announced the names on September 27, also revealing that Gun N’ Roses, Joan Jett, and The Cure were also up for the honor, alongside previously nominated acts such as the Beastie Boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and War.
Rakim is revered in the hip-hop community for his complex rhymes and delivery. He is credited as influencing some of today’s biggest rap stars. But, he got his first taste of success in the late 1980s as a part of the duo known as Eric B. and Rakim, both from Queens, New York. Their hit catalog includes singles like “Eric B Is President,” “I Aint No Joke,” “Juice (Know the Ledge)”, and “Microphone Fiend.”
The nominees were chosen by 40 critics and musicologists who serve on the hall’s nominating committee. Following the nominee announcements, the ballots will now be sent to a larger group of 500 critics, musicians and industry professionals who vote on them.
Every year, the hall inducts at least five artists or groups from the list. The choices are set to be announced in late November, and a ceremony will be held to honor the inductees on April 14.
Artists become eligible for the Hall Of Fame 25 years after their debut album or single.
To date, only two hip-hop acts have been inducted into the hall. They are Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Run-DMC.
The 2012 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame are:
• Beastie Boys
• The Cure
• Eric B. & Rakim
• Guns ‘N Roses
• Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
• Freddie King
• Laura Nyro
• Red Hot Chili Peppers
• Rufus with Chaka Khan
• The Small Faces/The Faces
• The Spinners
• Donna Summer
The induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland in April. A 10-day celebration of the induction’s return to Cleveland will be filled with a full slate of events, including:
• The 27th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall
• The grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame library and archives
• Unveiling of a newly-redesigned museum exhibit space
• Opening of a new blockbuster exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
• Free concert for Cleveland
• Rock My Soul: A Gospel Tribute
• Free museum day presented by Medical Mutual of Ohio
• Hall of Fame Series with a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee
• National broadcast of the Museum’s award-winning On The Road education program, featuring a guest appearance by a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee
• National digital learning project showcase.
The ceremony will be open to the public. Tickets go on sale to the public in December. Tables and VIP packages are available now:http://rockhall.com/visit-the-museum/plan/tickets/