Rakim is often referred to as The God Emcee. He is considered by many to be the best rapper of all time. From his early work with then-partner, Eric B, to his later solo projects, Rakim's complex lyrics set him apart from his rap contemperaries.
BET recognizes Rakim's contributions to the game and will honor him with the I Am Hip Hop Icon Award.
The award will be presented during the BET Hip Hop Awards on September 29 at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.
Previous winners of the award include Grandmaster Flash (2006); KRS-One (2007); Russell Simmons (2008); Ice Cube (2009); Salt N Pepa (2010) and LL Cool J (2011).
Whether you're a rap veteran or just getting into the game, everyone MC remembers the first time they heard Rakim. Check out what some have to say about him as compiled by BET.com.
"The first song I ever heard by Rakim was 'Eric B for President' on a mixtape I got from New York in like '88. I fell in love with Rakim's slow flow immediately! He had very intricate word play for his era and definitely gave me great hip hop lessons in the form of songs like 'Mahogany' and 'Check Out My Melody.'"
"The first time I heard Rakim was when he dropped 'Paid In Full.' I was in the sixth grade. I had to play it back a few times to understand what he was saying, but that beat went off straight out the gate."
"The first time I heard Rakim, I was in junior high school. The song was 'Eric B for President.' It was a song my older brother Dre [Dr. Dre] use to mix when he was on K Day. From that day on I became a fan and it inspired me and my best friend Snoop [Dogg] to try and become a rap duo. He was Rakim and I was Eric B. From there we did a demo and sent it to the manager, who was Kara Lewis, but we never got a response. But we still loved his sound and how lyrically dope he was and to this day we're still fans of him."
"When Rucker Park was rocking, we used to go by Willie's Burgers on 145 Street back in like 1989. I was a kid, but [Rakim] that's what all the hustlers were bumping."
"I was two years old and my dad showed me 'Know the Ledge,' and I just felt a part of something because my Dad said that’s who we named you after."
"The first time I heard Rakim, it was like the summer of 1986, 'Check Out My Melody.' I've been in love with that song ever since. Rakim has so many great songs, but that's the one for me."
"The OG Rakim is the original lyrical architect. He had that street flow, but had a finesse. His storytelling paved the way for other great artists, like Nas, Ghostface [Killah], myself and a host of others...he was so versatile."
"The first time I heard Rakim, I knew instantly this was the new style! I was a Run-DMC fanatic, so I thought you had to yell to get your point across. Then here he [Rakim] comes with 'Competition is none/I remain at the top like the sun/and I burn whoever come in the chambers of torture/I caught ya you shoulda bought ya neighborhood to support ya...' Ever since then, my life has never been the same."
"The first time I heard Rakim, I realized that you could be more than just cool as an MC. You could be a poet, a scientist, a historian or a minister, all within the realm of hip hop."
"['Eric B for President']. I was coming out of the store and my man had the gold box radio, and it sounded so chunky. He's a genuis. He's a wizard, B."
"I been hearing him forever, all my life. He's a monster still to this day. The R is hard body and he sounds just like the records.”
"The first song I ever heard by Rakim was 'Don't Sweat the Technique' and I just knew instantly about the powerful message you can convey in rap as well as the history of how it all started. Rakim is definitely one of the most influential and most honorable."
"First time I heard Rakim was 'Paid In Full'... 'I used to be a stick up kid' was my favorite line [laughs]."
The BET Hip Hop Awards airs Oct 9 at 8/7c.
What do you remember about the first time you heard Rakim?