Eric B. And Rakim PhotoFORMED: 1985
DISBANDED: 1992

One of rap's most influential acts during the 1980s, Eric B & Rakim made the sampling of James Brown records the main source for hip-hop's sound during the late '80s and early '90s, beginning with their stellar debut, Paid in Full. While Eric B dazzled listeners with his turntable techniques, Rakim pointed the way toward the easy-rollin' style of the '90s with his laidback raps, though forceful in content. Each of the duo's first three albums achieved gold status, and they even managed the Top Five R&B hit "Friends" in 1989.

While working as a mobile DJ for New York's WBLS during 1985, Eric Barrier met William Griffin, a top MC who had grown up on Long Island. The two began recording together and emerged with "Eric B Is President." The single appeared in 1986 on Harlem's Zakia label, and became a street sensation. Signed to 4th & Broadway the following year, Eric B & Rakim released their debut album, Paid in Full. The LP's success led to a contract with Uni/MCA in 1988, and their second album, Follow the Leader, was released that year. Two more albums followed, Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em (1990) and Don't Sweat the Technique (1992), after which the duo broke up. By the mid-'90s, Eric B. had emerged as a solo act on his own 95th Street label. ~ John Bush, All Music Guide