I Ain't No Joke
Label: Island Records
Paid in Full heralded momentous change in popular music. Eric B. wasn't the first to sample The JBs, but he was the first to do it right, and his use of "I Know You Got Soul" and "Funky President" (on "Eric B. Is President") was so seamless that it drew a response from James Brown himself. Meanwhile, Rakim wrote lyrics with timeless metaphors your grandmother could understand: "You'll sink into the rhyme like quicksand/ Hold and control you 'til I leave/ You fall deep into the style, it's hard to breathe," he raps on "As the Rhyme Goes On." It's hip-hop poetry at its purest and most refined.