Artist: Eric B. and Rakim
Title: “Follow the Leader”
Format: Spotify (Spotify)
In 2011, I watched “Oz,” the HBO prison drama, for the first time.
In 1997, I’m sure it was groundbreaking and edgy, but viewed in comparison to those it inspired – “The Sopranos,” “The Shield,” “The Wire” – “Oz” looked more like a stepping stone between network TV and serialized cable dramas.
And so it is, too, with 1988′s “Follow the Leader,” Eric B. and Rakim’s second album. The first three tracks rank among the best opening trios in hip-hop history. Rakim shows untouchable flow and delivery. When he boasts that he “melted microphones instead of cones of ice cream,” no one should doubt him.
Other parts of “Follow,” however, meet with the “Oz” retrospective view. The keyboard-based beat of “To the Listeners” hasn’t aged well and Eric B.’s three Rakim-free tracks are not welcome interludes, but massive interruptions in what could’ve been an A+ effort.
Still, credit where credit is due: “Follow the Leader” influenced a generation and it’s not hard to hear it.
Like “Oz,” time has proven “Follow the Leader” to show the way, but maybe not be as powerful as those that followed it.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.