979 - Eric B & Rakim 'Follow The Leader' (1988)

My Rating: 2.00 out of 5
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: X
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums: X
The Mojo Collection: X

Chart Peak (UK/US): --/22

Favourite Tracks: Follow The Leader, To The Listeners
Least-Favourite Track: No Competition, Beats For The Listeners

In an era when so many acts think that songwriting is simply sampling huge chunks of someone else's song & shouting over the top of it, it's refreshing to hear someone using a sampler as a truly creative instrument. The title track that kicks off this album is a musical collage constructed of many fragments of other songs; honking horns, swirling strings & spooky sci-fi effects all combine over a driving synth bassline that holds the whole thing together. Sadly the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to this early promise - tracks like Microphone Fiend & Lyrics Of Fury use the standard James Brown-type sample repeated ad infinitum & while Rakim's self-congratulatory rapping may be impressive to hip-hop afficianados, an old fart like me found it all rather dull. Good as it is, Rakim's rapping is mainly about Rakim & how good he is at rapping, though thankfully there's none of the guns & gangsta nonsense here. There's a welcome change of mood on To The Listeners - its raw 80s synth sounds reminded me of Wally Badarou (remember Chief Inspector? Anyone?? Oh forget it) though Beats For The Listeners, an instrumental version of the same song is the ultimate filler track & not really a fitting way to close the album.


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