“I wanted to make people think about the rhymes, I wanted them to have to rewind my lyrics”
Sweat the Technique is a look inside the mind of a true lyrical genius of rap. Rakim presses rewind on his life, the lyrics, the experiences that shaped and helped to create them, and much more.
Rakim came from a musical family. Everybody in the Griffin household was musically-inclined. (Rakim himself grew up playing the sax and drums.) Recounting on his upbringing, Rakim reveals memories of his amazing parents (“Mom and Pop didn’t raise no fool”) as well as the bonds shared with his siblings. He goes in-depth on his childhood (Wyandanch), his choices (football or hip-hop?), his passion (hip-hop!). There are tales about interactions with other figures in hip hop, like discussing a line aimed at a fellow rapper, challenges while producing with Marley Marl, or just about hanging out, like with the late Jam Master Jay, talking about “rap-star big-head syndrome” and more. He writes about how the recording of “Follow the Leader” – a personal favorite – actually shut down the entire studio. “We blew a circuit. Too much power.” More than just a biography, though, Sweat the Technique is something of a guide. The book is separated into five sections, which Rakim refers to as his five pillars of creativity: “Purpose, inspiration, spirituality, consciousness, and energy.” He adds, “this is how I do it.”
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