Iconic rapper Rakim talks reuniting with Eric B. 25 years after their last album

Eric B & Rakim hit House of Blues on April 28.
Matt Kelemen

Eric B. and Rakim recently answered the prayers of old-school hip-hop fans when they announced they would tour together for the first time since breaking up acrimoniously in 1992. We spoke with Rakim—who revolutionized rhyming and flow in the late ’80s while Eric B. helped turn beat-making into an art form—before the pair hit the road for a trek that includes an April 28 stopover in Las Vegas.

When did you guys decide to reunite? A little more than a year ago. We started talking and trying to put some things together. It’d been so long since we last spoke. The fans that stuck with us and appreciated the work and want to see us back together onstage—that’s bigger than the problems we had, so we worked it out and decided we need to do this for the fans.

Do those issues seem less significant with the passage of time? No doubt. You grow, you mature, you live and you learn. You get a little wiser and you learn better ways to handle things. You learn to forgive. … I was really at a point in my life where I had to let go of some of the things I was holding onto, some of the bitter feelings. We did that. We sat down and talked, and we hashed the past out. I think it’s definitely owed to the fans. You know, if I was growing up and I had a favorite group and they broke up, then I would love to see that. So I have to put myself in that situation and understand it’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than Eric. It’s all about the brand and the legacy that we created.

There’s been talk about a new Eric B. & Rakim album. That’s one of the things I’m focusing on. We’ve been touching around on things already. As soon as this tour is over I’m gonna get in the studio and get some work done. I’ve lived through a lot since I last wrote an album. I’ve got a lot to say, and I’m looking forward to sitting down and putting my thoughts on paper.

What are you thinking about topically right now? How I feel about hip-hop. How I feel about my career. How I feel about the world. How I feel about life. Being a lot more mature and a lot more wise at this point and being in the industry for a long time, you get a chance to learn how to do things. From experience to knowledge, you get a chance to fine-tune things. I’m at that point where I’m anxious to see where my work is headed knowing what I know, feeling how I feel.

Has your approach to writing changed? I try to stay true to my style, and I understand the foundation of my style and where it came from. But at the same time, you take that experience and learn different ways to write, different ways to turn on that creative energy. Sometimes I write from the end of the verse to the beginning of the verse. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’ll get stuck, but being stuck I’ll still write a verse. If you know where you’re going, you can always start from there and work your way back.

ERIC B. & RAKIM With Yo-Yo. April 28, 7 p.m., $40. House of Blues, 702-632-7600.

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