Is there really any questioning Rakim's skill? Since 'Paid In Full,' every greatest MC list has been graced with his presence, and he's still incredible on the mic. Obviously, with greatness comes expectations, but I've never heard a bad Ra rhyme. Some people were slightly upset with 'The 18th Letter' LP, but suffice to say I wasn't. Well, enough about the MC, I'll get started on the album.
'The Master' is just about an hours worth of probably the most consistent MC of all time (11 years!). Do I really need to say that the delivery and lyrics are top quality from beginning to end? Here's a typical quality quote from 'I Know': "The editor, forever more the predator, I set it off, spread a war like never before, spit literatures like I get a broad raw to cause till menopause, with more metaphors I set it off." Can you spell assonance? My only real complaint with the rhymes is the lack of varied subject matter, but you won't complain about that while you're listening.
Sadly, Rakim has a couple of those things, which cause every "real head" to uncontrollably spasm in disgust: R&B hooks. 'I'll Be There' and 'We'll Never Stop' could easily fall into the 'Lapdance' realm of wack crossover attempts, but Ra is too good for that. They're definitely on the bottom of my playlist for the LP, but they don't hurt the overall album. If you want more acceptable hooks, check for Primo scratching on the first single, 'When I Be On The Mic' or 'Its The R.' Even better, see human turntablist Rahzel do a similar hook for 'It's A Must,' which works to great effect.
Of course, what separates a great MC from a great album is the beats. Thankfully, the production never drops beneath okay, with 'I'll Be There' letting its beat help the hook make the track the album's worth moment. The beats, as I said though, all manage to be good other than that, and although some of them aren't to my personal taste they do a good job of letting the R's rhymes shine. My personal favourite beat is 'Waiting For The World To End,' with the latin style 'Uplift' also getting plenty of points.
So, I wasted a load of time telling you the obvious points. Rakim = decent (well, maybe slightly better than decent, haha) MC. An album of Rakim = also decent. The rhymes are fresh, the beats aren't bad, and the guest appearances are kept to a suitable minimum. The album is worth buying so, umm, buy it then.