Rakim, "The Seventh Seal"
Despite it being nearly 10 years since his last album, Rakim proves he's still in top lyrical form on his third solo set, "The Seventh Seal." On the single "Holy Are You," he makes biblical references atop the Electric Prunes' 1968 sample of the same title, rapping, "Trace this style to the roots of Genesis/The world wonder/I'm still standing like pyramids." Later, over a basic tambourine and electric guitar production, Rakim schools other artists about the art of rap on "How to Emcee." Standouts on the album include "Man Above," with piano influence from Dr. Dre's "Still D.R.E.," and "You and I," which features flute vibrations. But much like the synth-driven beat on "Holy Are You," some elements on "The Seventh Seal" seem dated. "Message in the Song" includes a lifeless singer on the chorus, while "Satisfaction Guaranteed" has an unappreciated chipmunk-sounding voice looped into the beat. Overall, the God MC can still carry the throne as one of the greatest rappers of all time, but he'll need stronger production the next time around.-Mariel Concepcion