18th Letter (Always and Forever) - Rakim, Griffin, William
It's Been a Long Time - Rakim, Barrier, Eric
Remember That - Rakim, Franklin, Rodney
The Saga Begins - Rakim, Griffin, William
Guess Who's Back - Rakim, B., Eric
Stay a While - Rakim, Franklin, Rodney
New York (Ya Out There) - Rakim, Chandler, B.
Show Me Love - Rakim, Griffin, William
The Mystery (Who Is God?) - Rakim, Davis, J
When I'm Flowin' - Rakim, Griffin, William
It's Been a Long Time [Suave House Mix] - Rakim, Griffin, William
Guess Who's Back [Alternate Mix] - Rakim, Barrier, Eric
Outro - Rakim,
Track Listings (15) - Disc #2
I Know You Got Soul - Rakim, Barrier, Eric
Follow the Leader - Rakim, B., Eric
Eric B. Is President - Rakim, B., Eric
Microphone Fiend - Rakim, B., Eric
I Ain't No Joke - Rakim, Barrier, Eric
Lyrics of Fury - Rakim, B., Eric
My Melody - Rakim, B., Eric
Know the Ledge - Rakim, Rakim 
Move the Crowd - Rakim, B., Eric
Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em - Rakim, B., Eric
Mahogany - Rakim, B., Eric
In the Ghetto - Rakim, B., Eric
Casualties of War - Rakim, B., Eric
The Punisher - Rakim, B., Eric
Paid in Full - Rakim, B., Eric
Back in hip-hop heaven, once Lateef and Lyrics Born got finished kicking Puff Daddy's ass they'd send him to Rakim's cloud, where Rakim would have him write, "I am very sorry for impersonating a rapper" one billion times o... more »n the chalkboard. In a rap scene where it's hard enough to stick around and nearly impossible to comeback, hip-hop's most legendary MC has returned eleven years since his brilliant debut (and five years he split from partner Eric B.). Amazingly, he's lost none of his skill and even gained wisdom with maturity. Even more amazing, 1997's 18th Letter, a double CD that's half new and half retrospective, looks like a measured commercial success. --Roni Sarig« less
Back in hip-hop heaven, once Lateef and Lyrics Born got finished kicking Puff Daddy's ass they'd send him to Rakim's cloud, where Rakim would have him write, "I am very sorry for impersonating a rapper" one billion times on the chalkboard. In a rap scene where it's hard enough to stick around and nearly impossible to comeback, hip-hop's most legendary MC has returned eleven years since his brilliant debut (and five years he split from partner Eric B.). Amazingly, he's lost none of his skill and even gained wisdom with maturity. Even more amazing, 1997's 18th Letter, a double CD that's half new and half retrospective, looks like a measured commercial success. --Roni Sarig
"I have to admit that I don't much listen to the newer work "The 18th Letter" because I am too busy nodding to the greatest hits on the second CD. I was glad to see Rakim attempt a comeback, but alas the industry has changed. Wisdom isn't respected anymore. It's all about the ice and the loot now. In that sense, I am relieved to see that he does not fit in the current scene. Like one of the previous reviewers already said, Ra does not sound the same here as when he was young and hungry. I don't hear any instant classics on the new set, whereas the older stuff is still hot.As for those who claim that Rakim has not contributed anything to hip hop, you obviously have no knowledge of the art. When Ra came out in the mid 80's hip hop was still a fairly new phenomenon amd RunDMC were the hottest acts out. Now RunDMC had good beats and party lyrics, but they weren't really talking about anything substantial. They were middle class kids from Queens, indisputably talented, but Rakim came out from a whole other place, the streets. Rakim came out dropping the jewels -- knowledge laid over beats. For sure, he dabbled in some party music and gangersterism too -- spinning tales of street life that no doubt influenced Big and countless others -- but on the whole Rakim's contributions to hip hop were intelligent lyrics and a tight delivery. Ra is the greatest of all time, not because of record sales -- white kids in the burbs weren't buying his music back in the day -- but because he is a pioneer. This man had hit after hit. "Microphone Fiend," "Eric B for President" "My Melody" "Move the Crowd" "Paid in Full" and my favorite "I aint no joke." Asking what he has contributed to hip hop is like asking what Muhammad Ali contributed to boxing. If it were possible to pit Rakim in his prime against some of these so-called rappers, there would be no doubt. How many of these kids out here bobbing their heads to Lil Bow Wow even know that a verse from "Thank You" is a homage to "Paid in Full?" You can have love for the new stuff without disrespecting the veterans, the ones who paved the way in this rap game. Rap wasn't always on MTV. Rappers weren't always invited to perform at the Superbowl and on awards show. It was a whole different world 15 years ago.There is room for everyone for sure, but calling Tupac, Big and Jigga the greatest of all time is tantamount to praising the student over the teacher. Not real logical is it?"
JayCoolbreeze2 | Lawton, OK | 07/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before multi million dollar contracts or public acceptance of rap,there were the pioneers. For a moment in time there were none greater than Rakim.
He is the master word smith whose undeniable influence upon hip hop shaped a generation of talented artist. A forefather to the likes of ;2pac,Nas,Canibus,Biggie,Big Pun, and even Eminem. Through ingenious word play and clever metaphor, Rakim built the bridge for all MC's to cross.
This double CD embodies Rakims greatest works and is a welcome add to any collective.
Disc one is "The 18th Letter", which showcases the masters maturity and still vibrant wisdom. His evident fondness for the past and personal reflections are displayed here with great effect. We reminisce along with the master on cuts such as "Remember That", and "Its Been A Long Time". Then journey with him on the spiritual ode "Mystery (Who Is God)". The production by Pete Rock and DJ Premier is subdued in contrast to Eric Bs hard breaks and samples. Which perfectly matches Rakims maturity and serves to illustrate how far he has come.
Disc two is "The Book Of Life", which is a collection of Rakims greatest hits. An apt title for a greatest hits collection for conceivably Rakim breathed life into the art for all new artist to prosper. Here we are rewarded with such stellar classics as "Microphone Fiend, I Aint No Joke, and the indelible "Eric B. Is President". This two disc set serves as an enduring testament to the greatest mc of all time. I highly recomend this album."
Yove got some nerve!
JayCoolbreeze2 | 03/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"i saw that a reviewer a little bit below me on February 13, 2006 said that Rakim was awful! What is that about! He even has the nerve to say that Jeezy is a better rapper than Rakim! That is just a joke! Jeezy is one of the most generic and worst rappers out there today! Rakim was one of the first great rappers, and any rap expert would say that he is one of the top 5 easily. Every song on the compilation is a classic! Ive only heard a couple of songs on the 18th Letter disc, but they were great! That guy has no right to say that Rakim sucks, because he has amazing lyrics, great flow, songs that mean something, and eric b. gave him great beats when they were together. Its people like that guy that cause rap to be in the situation that it is in today. Oh, and by the way, he also gave the Black Star album 1 star (another classic). Just get this cd, and don't listen to people like him, because they have no idea what good music is!"
R. Knakal | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently some fool had the guts to compare Young Jeezy to Rakim. Young Jeezy is your typical disposable rapper who is going to be forgotten about next month. Unlike Jeezy, Rakim contains substance. From "Guess whos back" to "it's been a long time", Rakim lays down lyrics like none other. Jeezy's lyrics are all terrible similies refering to crack and cocaine and how he's the snowman. Well Rakim is the sun and he is melting Jeezy's ass!"
The best rap CD ever!!!
five grand | East Coast | 12/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 18th Letter/The Book of Life is the greatest Rap CD ever.I remember the summer of 1986 clearly. I was 13 years lold and listened to Run DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J. They were probably the 3 most popular rap groups of that era. This was the Summer that Eric B and Rakim released their debut single Eric B is President/My Melody.For those that are not familiar with the Rap industry in the 80's, rap groups would release a 12" Single (a vinyl record, usually with 2 songs) and if it was popular they would release another 12" single, usually 6 months to a year later. Most rap groups didn't have major label deals and were on Independent labels. Usually, they didn't have videos. They just didn't have adequate promotion to compete with the MTV/BET scene, with the exception of Run DMC, Whodini and LL Cool J.Anyway, Eric B is President was THE PARTY RECORD of the summer of 1986!!! Any Hip Hop party was not complete unless that record came on. On the B-side of the 12" single was "My Melody", arguably one of the best lyrics in the history of Rap. Busta Rhymes was once quoted as saying that Rakim's lyric in that song is the best rap ever;"I'll take 7 MC's and put em in a line/ and add 7 more brothers who think they can rhyme/ well it'll take 7 more before I go for mine/ now that's 21 MC's ate up at the same time"-Rakim - My Melody (1986)Most people who are knowledgeable about Hip Hop say that the above lyric is the best punchline in the history of rap music.Anyway this disc, The 18th Letter/The Book of Life is the best rap CD ever because it includes the real underground rap from that period 1986-1992(pre MTV) combined with the new post-Biggie/Tupac rap era, circa 1997. The new CD is called "The 18th Letter" and was recorded in 1997(disc 1) and is for mature (Mature meaning: older, not mature as in adult entertainment) rap listeners. If you are in your 30's+ and remember the time period that I mentioned in the first paragraph, you will appreciate "The 18th Letter", Rakim is calm, relaxed and mature, it is not like the Wu-tang or Puff Daddy style of rap that was prevelent of 1997. Rakim had been in the game for 11 years and was not looking at the rap industry from the same perspective as Puff Daddy and Wu-tang. He was not trying to make a name for himself, by the time this album was released he was already considered the best ever and had released several classic albums. One song is called "Remember That" and he is reminiscing on the days of what it was like being the best rapper in 1987, ten years prior.The second disc "The Book of Life" (1986-1992)(disc 2) is Eric B and Rakim's greatest hits compilation. This disc is when Rakim was up-and-coming. In this disc he raps about the typical braggadocious stuff that Rappers are known for (Money, being the best, beating up wack MC's, etc.) but he shows that he is the best at that style. His lyrics were (and still are)strait to the point, positive, conscious and contain no profanity. He clearly spends a lot of time writing his lyrics, this seperates him from a lot of rappers. He concentrates on being the best and it really shows in his voice and delivery. Rakim has a certain confidence about his style of rapping that shows and proves that he is the best rapper that ever was and the best rapper that ever will be.Eric BFor the record, Eric B was Rakim's DJ and produced the first 4 Eric B and Rakim studio albums. "The Book of Life" highlights Eric B's DJ/Production style and "The 18th Letter" is Rakim without Eric B. There are several producers on "The 18th Letter", DJ Premiere and Clark Kent to name a few.Production wise, it is a perfect blend "The 18th Letter" is more smoothed out mellow Jazzy/R+B (even has some female vocals) while "The Book of Life" is more old school, classic Hip Hop complete with James Brown Samples and scratching."