On June 23, 1992, Eric B. & Rakim released their fourth and final studio album, Don’t Sweat the Technique.
Eric B. (Eric Barrier) and Rakim (Michael Griffin, Jr.) hit the scene in 1986 with their debut single, Eric B is President. Soon after, in 1987, they released their first album, Paid in Full, which became a hip-hop classic, mostly because of Rakim’s complex rhyme schemes and laid-back flow.
Don’t Sweat the Technique was widely praised by critics at the time for its variety. Some of the tracks, like Casualties of War and What’s Going On, featured some of Rakim’s most politically charged lyrics, while the typical bragging and boasting that had been the foundation of hip-hop, could be heard on the title track.
Three singles were released from the album, Casualties of War, The Ledge, and Don’t Sweat the Technique. The Ledge would be featured on the soundtrack to the movie Juice, starring Tupac Shakur and Omar Epps (I love this song, btw) However, that still wasn’t enough to outsell the title track, which hit #14 on the Billboard Charts and #1 on the R&B/Rap charts.
When I think 90s hip-hop, Don’t Sweat the Technique comes to mind. That beat by Eric B is just an all-timer. There’s this bassline that just gets into your bones, and then he throws in a riff from a saxophone, and it just hits so hard. It’s kinetic and exciting and the perfect groove for Rakim’s lyrics. When I found this 12″ single at an antique mall, there was no way I was leaving it behind. There are a few remixes here, but nothing beats the original.
Unfortunately, this would be the last studio album from the duo. Both had expressed interest in recording solo projects, their contract with MCA was coming to a close, and the partnership eventually dissolved after a legal dispute between them and MCA.
Eric B released a solo album, simply titled, Eric B., in 1995 but wound up getting more into the production side of things after that. He also expanded his interests beyond music, like film production, consulting for The Source Awards, and has become a restaurateur.
After even more legal wrangling, Rakim released two solo albums, The 18th Letter, in 1997, and The Master, in 1999. He later signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label, but his promised album never came. He was featured on songs from Jay-Z, Kanye West, Nas, and KRS-One, but hasn’t release any new music of his own since 1999.
Here are some YouTube videos of the original Don’t Sweat the Technique, as well as some of the remixes from the 12″ single I have in my collection: