Rakim's Back

Def Jam is 25. "Rapper’s Delight" is 30. And Rakim is 41. But with his latest album, "The Seventh Seal," hip-hop heads can remember the best of the golden age.

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But hip-hop can still be dangerous; it can still challenge in purposeful ways that help to liberate psychologically. It’s a device that we get to attend to as adults. Scarface did it with The Fix; De La Soul did it with The Grind Date; recently Mos Def with The Ecstatic. Rakim gives The Seventh Seal as a “sign of the times” in an effort to have listeners think critically and act deliberately.

Youth is an important engine within hip-hop; with age comes the responsibility to ensure that there truly are No Ceilings with word, work and critique. Adults fortify childhood dreams with reality.

I’m a gangsta Ms. Katie,” sounds swaggerific, and “I Ain’t No Joke” is gangsta, too— in all the right ways.

David Wall Rice is a research scientist and professor at Morehouse College. He’s written for the Washington Post, Vibe, The Source and is presently a contributor for The Takeaway.