Rakim reflects on his time working with Dr. Dre, wondering what might have been had they managed to find common ground.
For whatever reason, the fact that we almost got a and album — perhaps the legendary emcee has been feeling the same way. Today, Rakim linked up with KXNG Crooked for an extensive episode of Crook’s Corner, and it didn’t take long for the fabled project to come up.
“Everybody want to know, how was your time on Aftermath, man?” asks Crook. “It was ill, man,” replies The God Emcee. “I learned a lot sitting with Dre and being around for that little bit of time. Being in Cali too. I lived in Cali for three years. Dre, still one of the best producers ever. I was about to do a deal with Dreamworks, and one of the people called Dre up [for some beats]. Long story short, Dre called me and was like, ‘If you’re about to sign, sign with me directly.”
“Me and Dre spoke, and we had an idea of what we wanted to do,” he continues. “He knew there was big expectations on it, I knew there would be big expectations on it. I knew Dre would bring the best out of me. Dre knew he had to make some spectacular shit. I think what we didn’t realize is we were so different. Even our process. Dre already has his formula that worked with everything he did. I was growing from what I been through, trying to leave a lot of stereotypical things that people assumed about me and what I was doing behind.”
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“Everybody thought I was selling cocaine,” says Rakim. “They see you in the hood, dressed a certain way, and they think Ra selling drugs…It definitely affected me for a while, everybody thinking I’m a drug dealer. I don’t get down like that. I was trying to leave the negativity behind and make good music. Dre, that’s his ingredient. Of course he wanted me to talk about what I’ve been through, and I was over that. That was our misunderstanding. We couldn’t really get on the same page. I think if we could have balanced it out, we could have made an incredible album. Again man, Dre — I don’t know if he ever missed.”
“I think we knew what it could have been, but again he was dealing with some things in his camp and the stars didn’t align. That would have been a crazy album,” says Rakim. Crooked brings up “The Watcher 2,” sparking a wave of nostalgia in both parties. “I remember when I first started working with him he gave me a couple of his producers to work with til he moved some things out the way to get in the studio with me. I told him, I had no problem working with them, but how do you tell a person I’m saving my best shit for you, bruh? When I hear a Dre beat…I knew I had to step my game up.”
While the fabled Dre and Rakim album never came to fruition, perhaps there is still hope. Rakim took a moment to address Dre directly, inviting the good Doctor to reconnect for a bucket list project. “Whatup baby!” says Ra, sending his message into the ether. “Let’s get back at it man. I don’t want to hang my mic up and look back like there’s some things I should have did or could have did and never did, and that’s one of them. I always wonder how that would have turned out. Blessings.”