“Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim is one of hip-hop’s earliest major hits. The song dropped in 1987 and was actually the fifth single from the duo’s debut studio album of the same name.
‘Cause I don’t like to dream about gettin paid
So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made
To now test to see if I got pull
Hit the studio, ’cause I’m paid in full
The song (like most of their records) was written and produced by group members themselves, DJ Eric Barrier and MC Rakim Allah. “Paid in Full” utilizes several sampled elements. For the drums, Eric B. looped a drum pattern from “Ashley’s Roachclip”, a 1974 song by funk group The Soul Searchers. The bassline is sampled from the song “Don’t Look Any Further” by Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett. Eric B. also scratches the line “This stuff is really fresh!” from “Change the Beat”, a much-sampled record by OG hip-hop pioneer (and original Yo! MTV Raps host) Fab 5 Freddy.
“Paid in Full” received acclaim from music critics, who complimented both the song’s lyrics and production. Rakim is widely regarded as one of, if not, the best lyricist of all-time and many point to his bars on this song as a major reason why. Even though his verse is barely a minute long, Rakim’s iced flow and sly beat-dodging, spins a meditation on good-vs.-evil while calmly framing street/crime life inside the realities of modern-day economics. Deep.
Interestingly, “Paid in Full” became one of the group’s most successful singles, thanks in large part to a popular remix of the song by an English dance music duo named Coldcut. Tagged “7 Minutes of Madness”, the remix added the sampled voice of Israeli singer Ofra Haza from her recording of “Im Nin’alu”. Her haunting yet melodic voice was the final piece of the puzzle to turn the track into a worldwide hit and a bonafide #CultureClassic.
We hope you enjoyed this look back at the hip-hop classic “Paid in Full” by Eric B. and Rakim. Check out more of our #CultureClassics below:
- “Me, Myself, and I” by De La Soul
- “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
- “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” by Missy Elliot
Written by @TalentedMrFord