Rakim, one of the architects of hip-hop's jazz and funk movements in the Golden Age, is back. He's been touring with Eric B again, reforming one of the genre's great duos, and last Friday he released a new solo single, "King's Paradise," for a new series of the Netflix superhero show Luke Cage. To punctuate his return, the 50-year-old New Yorker recorded an NPR Tiny Desk concert last week. He brought a massive band with him: A Tribe Called Quest DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad on bass, 19-year-old jazz phenom Christone "Kingfish" Ingram on electric guitar, the polymathic Adrian Younge on keys, and a clutch of horn and string players to add some luxury to the band's smooth sounds.
Rakim's unruffled delivery hasn't been troubled over time—he still spins his stories with an urgency that doesn't need volume or histrionics to make an impact. Dressed in a Yankees cap, a red shirt, and a single chain, he played "King's Paradise" before running through "Paid in Full" from Eric B & Rakim's 1987 debut of the same name, and "Know the Ledge" from 1992's Don't Sweat the Technique. Watch it in full at the top of the page.
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