Mr. Bongo

Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul & I Ain’t No Joke b/w Eric B. Is On The Cut (2x7" Bundle - Fat Beats Exclusive Clear Vinyl)

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Fat Beats exclusive clear vinyl, each 45 is limited to 300 copies.

Eric B & Rakim - I Ain’t No Joke b/w Eric B. Is On The Cut (7" - Fat Beats Exclusive Clear Vinyl)

Craft a record iconic enough and, no matter what you’ve sampled to make it, you’re destined to be sampled more yourself.

It helps if you’ve got Rakim’s voice, of course. When he and Eric B went into Power Play Studios in New York in 1987 to record ‘I Ain’t No Joke’, their next move was highly anticipated due to the critical success of the duo’s first record, ‘Eric B. Is President’. Rakim was already seen as a masterful MC with a distinctive slow, baritone flow and seamless access to a rich vein of words not often heard in hip-hop.

People’s first exposure to this track was on the landmark ‘Paid in Full’ album, and it was clear this had the potential to jump off as a single. The repetitive, simply scratched sample of ‘Pass the Peas’ by the JB’s was an infectious ear worm that needed a truly strong MC to stand up to it. He did more than that – here Rakim spun timeless lyrics and lines that would go on to be sampled and referred to dozens of times down through hip-hop history. He took one of rap’s great instrumentals and wrestled it to the floor. Of course, you can’t have Eric B & Rakim without Eric B. The DJ gets his time to shine on the flip, and while he isn’t a man renowned for his dexterity and turntablist skills, the track still knocks. Maybe it’s because Eric B has already realised what many would come to work out later: If you haven’t got Rakim on your record, at least scratch his vocals. This re-release comes with a brand new cover utilising some of Dan Lish’s trademark artwork.

Eric B & Rakim - I Know You Got Soul b/w Dub Version (7" - Fat Beats Exclusive Clear Vinyl)

While it’s undeniable that Eric B & Rakim crafted and concocted classic after classic back in the Golden Era of the late 80’s and early 90’s, very few of their records could ever be classified as ‘dancefloor fillers’. But that’s exactly what ‘I Know You Got Soul’ was.

The duo’s third single was released at a time when their debut LP, 1987’s ‘Paid in Full’ was already being hailed as a gamechanger. Rakim’s smooth but sombre flow had introduced new phrases to the hip-hop lexicon, while the barrage of James Brown samples had declared open season on the Godfather of Soul’s back catalogue.

There were already stirrings of a backlash from the more frequently sampled artists at the time this came out, and the fact that it took not just its main hook but also its title from Bobby Byrd’s James Brown-produced 1971 single was almost like rubbing salt in the wound. The hip-hop fans and the dancefloor didn’t care – this played all summer long in 1987, elevating the group to a Soul Train performance.

Only months after this dropped, the UK collective M|A|R|R|S turned Rakim’s “Pump up the volume” line into the basis of their own hit. Pop will eat itself. The original 7” was released in a no-frills generic sleeve – this re-release comes with a brand new cover utilising some of Dan Lish’s trademark artwork.

A. I Know You Got Soul

B. I Know You Got Soul (Dub Version)

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