EHH Review: Paid In Full

Paid in full is arguably (and according to this site) The GREATEST Hip Hop Album ever created.

Released in 1987 by Eric B. & Rakim during the “Golden Age” of Hip Hop helped change the game and ushered in a new way of rhyming, lyrical dexterity, delivery and subject matter
The rhyme scheme and technique utilized by Rakim basically became a blueprint for hip hop lyricism

What makes the album even more legendary, Rakim wrote his lyrics in a little over an hour and they completed Paid in full within a week’s time.

The production was incredible with the horn samples, the James Brown samples … hard bass a perfect complement to The God emcee’s vocals

The Singles released from Paid in Full are all probably in the top 25 greatest Hip Hop songs ever created, with the other few songs with lyrics not far behind

“Eric B. Is President”

The first single from Paid in full, dropped in 1986 classic single and memorable opening:
“I came in the door, I said it before, I never let the mic magnetize me no more”

Another notable thing about this song is depending on the version you hear, one line is omitted. In the final verse Rakim says:

“First you said all you want is love and affection
Let me be your angel and I’ll be your protection
Take you out; buy you all kinds of things …”

The next part is either missing with an over dub of “Make ’em clap to this” OR the original line:

“I must have got you too hot and burned off your wings”

“I Ain’t No Joke”

The First video and first time the public got to see Rakim; it was a gritty video featuring Eric B, Flavor Flav from Public Enemy, Chill Will of the Get Fresh Crew, and others
The song itself is a pure lyrical classic and introduced Rakim’s microphone fiend style lyrics and famous quotable: “I got a question, as serious as cancer …”

“I Know You Got Soul”

This song’s James Brown sample has been used over and over since its release, and has many classic bars and phrases looped over in over in hip hop and club songs, most notably Rakim’s
“Pump up the Volume”

“Move the Crowd”

The first verse sets the mood and tone for the song from Rakim “standing by the speaker” and one simple line symbolizes why lyrically he was beyond anyone who’d picked up the mic:

“Some of you been trying to write rhymes for years
But weak ideas irritate my ears
Is this the best that you can make?
Cuz if not and you got more, I’ll wait”

“Paid in Full”

The title track and shortest track of the album. Very simple sample, soon as “Thinking of a Master Plan” hits you’re engaged and wish the song was longer
It spawned so many remixes and samples most famous was “Im Nin’Alu” by Ofra Haza.


I’ve never heard an album like this before or after, the production was simply complex, combined with the way Rakim effortlessly rhymes over the beats with some of the most intricate lyrics
Just unheard of at the time … I remember not only could people not catch all the lyrics, most couldn’t even pronounce his name correctly lol

“I got soul that’s why I came
To teach those who can’t say my name”

The album was so short too, well they said they basically did it in a week but it was 10 tracks and 3 of the tracks had no lyrics lol so really 7 songs

My personal favorite song (and favorite song ever by Rakim) is My Melody … the bass and the lyrics in that song is incredible, the cutting by Eric B, the whistle … everything perfect all the way down to Rakim’s “7 MC Theory”

“I’ll take 7 MC’s put em in a line
And add 7 more brothas who think they can rhyme
Well, it’ll take 7 more before I go for mine
And that’s 21 MC’s ate up at the same time”

As the rhyme goes on is the most slept on song on the album, most forget it’s on there but that bass line made every sound system in 1987 thump!

Chinese Arithmetic and Eric B is on the Cut displayed Eric B’s turntable technique and skills as most albums in the 80s had at least one track dedicated to the DJ
Arithmetic is the more famous of the two but both add to the dynamic of the album (though some people say they aren’t needed lol)

Either way, song for song, verse for verse and especially for the time it was released, there will never be a Hip Hop album more complete than Paid in Full

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