Rakim may be “God MC” and widely regarded as one of the most influential and skilled artists in hip-hop, but it wasn’t easy to get his voice heard as the art form developed in New York.
“New York was hip-hop; the city was the core of hip-hop,” he told an audience in-person and online during this week’s Grand Rapids Community College Diversity Lecture Series. “On Long Island, I was on the outside looking in…I had to be rough enough to break New York from Long Island.”
One half of the golden era of hip-hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he spoke about his influences, artistry, and determination during a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Bakari Kitwana, a 2020 Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
The discussion is now available for viewing here.
Dr. B. Afeni McNeely Cobham, GRCC’s chief equity and inclusion officer, said the pandemic forced the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to change its approach to the popular lecture series.
“Six months ago, the writing was on the wall that the Diversity Lecture Series would be online,” she said. “ODEI, in collaboration with I.T. Media, began to develop an expansive and interactive virtual experience. Using a hybrid model (in-person and remote), we provided the opportunity for several community partners to be a part of the production. So, in essence, the event aligned with GRCC’s role as the ‘people’s college.’”