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[DISCUSSION] Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full (Six Months Later)

Background

Paid in Full is the debut album of American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on July 7, 1987, by Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The duo recorded the album at hip hop producer Marley Marl's home studio and Power Play Studios in New York City, following Rakim's response to Eric B.'s search for a rapper to complement his disc jockey work in 1985. The album peaked at number fifty-eight on the Billboard 200 chart, number eight on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and produced five singles: "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".

Reception

In a contemporary review for The Washington Post, Mark Jenkins highlighted the single "Eric B. Is President" but was unimpressed by the rest of Paid in Full: "Its beats are monotonous, and the attempts to take 'jazz and the quiet storm' and 'convert into hip-hop form' fall flat." Robert Christgau from The Village Voice said it has "four groundbreaking masterworks" in "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Paid in Full", and "Eric B. Is President", but was less enthusiastic about the other six songs: "They're pure, innovative, in-your-face—no doubt. But they're also turntablism with spoken decoration, of small use to anyone who hasn't internalized the 'real' hip hop aesthetic." In the newspaper's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll, it was named the 27th best album of 1987.

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