Picks and Pans Review: Let the Rhythm Hit 'em

updated 08/06/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/06/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Eric B. & Rakim

Talk, talk, talk. That's all the new release from this New York City-area rap duo is. It's a logical approach, taking advantage of the fact that Rakim (William Griffin) is the glibbest, smoothest rapper on the scene. "In the Ghetto" and "Step Back" are exemplars of what marvels of cadence and swing he can achieve in the delivery of his couplets.

The minimalist accompaniments, however, fly in the face of commercial convention. After all, from Tone-Loc to M.C. Hammer, the greatest rap inroads have been made with vital musical components grafted onto the rhymes.

What music there is here is disappointing. The DJ sleight-of-hand that Eric B. unleashes on "Eric B. Made My Day" sounds rather antiquated. There's nothing Grandmaster Flash wasn't doing—and doing better—a decade and more ago. And on "Run for Cover," Eric B. has the dubious distinction of developing a scratching technique that will make your tooth fillings hurt.

The duo's strongest effort comes on the title track. As the bass-drum backgrounds wash over him, Rakim sprays out rhymes like a Gatling gun or—in the preferred gangster parlance of rap—like an Uzi.

Overall it's a stark, often impressively controlled aural landscape that Eric B. and Rakim cultivate, but not one that's very inviting. (MCA)

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