“Its been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you, without a strong rhyme to step to.”
Hip-Hop veteran Rakim is back with his latest album, “The Seventh Seal”. This project is long awaited, with it being ten years since his last release. Rakim’s third solo album sounds different than his previous work, and may throw some off.Allow me to provide a bit of hip-hop historical context for everyone. Rakim has had a long career, spanning over 20 years beginning with his first album that dropped back in 1987. He produced 4 great albums from the late 80’s to the early 90’s, and then took a 5 year hiatus before coming back out with the 18th letter in 1997. A great record which while not quite up to par with what was recorded at the height of Rakim’s career, was still a solid release. Then in 1999, The God MC released “The Master” which was sort of like sophomore jinx. It had a couple of cool songs, but wasn’t on the level of the 18th letter.
Between this last release and now, there was the situation with Rakim being signed by Dr. Dre and basically being put on the shelf for more popular acts on the Aftermath label. Ra would eventually leave the label, and venture out to secure his own deal. In the final analysis, the result of these changes and false starts, comes “The Seventh Seal.”
A strong point of “The Seventh Seal” is that there is not an overabundance of collaborations on this album, which is true to this veteran emcees track record. The only guest spot is Maino on “Walk these Streets” which is a nice song for newer fans. There is an overall point about the different sound of this record that has to be made: it feels as if Rakim is directing most of his tracks to new listeners. The production is not typical, and a it sounds a bit on the experimental side. There is a lot of singing on the hooks, and it doesn’t quite go with what Ra is talking about on the songs at times. Even with that said, “How to Emcee” and Holy Are U” are the standouts and will have any Rakim fan clicking replay.
All in all, I would rank this album as his second best solo effort, behind the “18th letter” but better than “The Master” Consider a preview listen before you decide to purchase. I have to rate this a 3 out of 5.