Eric B and Rakim
N.Y.C.'s groundbreaking duo Eric B and Rakim turned the rap world on its ear with their first single, "Eric B Is President," released in 1986. Set to chunky beats, tight scratching, and heavy synth-bass, Queens emcee Rakim delivered a flurry of now-classic rhymes. Their debut album Paid In Full (1987) continued the onslaught of deadly serious lyricism and air-tight beats, fast establishing them as one of the most respected and influential groups out. Their sophomore LP Follow The Leader (1988) was another undisputed classic, packed with hits like "I Ain't No Joke" and "Microphone Fiend." They released two more solid albums, and parted ways in the early '90s. Their latter-day singles include "Casualties Of War" and "Juice (Know The Ledge)." Among the most influential groups in the history of hip-hop, they popularized James Brown drum loops and complex rhyme schemes alike. Rakim released two solo albums in '97 and '99.