It’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since New York City legend, Rakim, released his first solo album, The 18th Letter. The iconic album was released November 4th, 1997 and debuted at #4 on the U.S. Billboard’s top 200 chart. In honor of the 25th anniversary, Rakim hit the stage at the legendary S.O.B.’s in Lower Manhattan last night to perform fan favorites like “The Saga Begins” and "Guess Who's Back," as well as older gems from the iconic Eric B. & Rakim catalog.
Alongside "The R" was another legend: the iconic Pete Rock, who produced two tracks on The 18th Letter. The duo hitting the stage last night was not only a celebration of Hip-Hop history, but for some a pivotal reminder of how The 18th Letter shaped the trajectory of their careers and lives.
"His lyrical ability, his stage presence," said a fan waiting outside the show when asked about Rakim's greatness. "There's only a select few rappers who are on that level."
Notables from Grandmaster Caz to DJ Clark Kent were also on-hand; with performances from Saigon and Rakim's son, Tahmell. Fans, from as far away as France, packed the legendary S.O.B’s to listen to the legendary emcee perform. The room felt electric as people crowded around the stage, waving their hands collectively at each bar from Rakim. Some of the Hip-Hop heads took a more introverted approach, casually bobbing their head at the lyrics, taking them back to a time when they first heard the words.
"Legendary night, and I'm happy to be a part of it," Saigon told ROCK THE BELLS. "Shout-out to my brother, Tahmell, who gave me the opportunity to come out and rock with Rakim."
Rakim is currently on a ten city tour which began on October 15. His next stop is House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio.