Eric B. & Rakim Drop Their Follow the Leader Album – Today in Hip-Hop
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
July 26, 1988: Eric B. & Rakim solidify their greatness with their second album, Follow the Leader, which was released on this day in 1988.
The second arrival after the duo’s seminal 1987 debut, Paid in Full, Follow the Leader is an 11-track LP that typified boom bap excellence. The project features an expanded sonic palette from Eric B. and heavier doses of Rakim's well-honed lyricism.
Both qualities are showcased on "Microphone Fiend," a track that finds Rakim constructing an extended metaphor about his addiction to the microphone. With the height of the crack epidemic serving as the backdrop, comparing himself to a drug addict helped make for an emphatic track.
Watch Eric B & Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" Video Below
"But back to the problem, I got a habit/You can't solve it, silly rabbit/The prescription is a hypertone that's thorough when/I fiend for a microphone like heroin/Soon as the bass kicks, I need a fix/Gimme a stage and a mic and a mix," spits the rap legend, cruising over a dope sample from Average White Band's "School Boy Crush." Give credit to Eric B. for the dope flip.
As a project densely packed with solid beats and some of the very best displays of technical rap wizardry hip-hop had seen at that point, Follow the Leader was always going to be successful. Upon its release, critics praised Rakim's deft craftsmanship and Eric B.'s willingness to expand his sound.
Commercially speaking, Follow the Leader more than held its own. Although the project didn’t reach the commercial highs of Paid in Full, it was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Sept. 27, 1988.
With a combination of strong sales and universal acclaim, Follow the Leader remains one of the most beloved rap albums in hip-hop history.