Rakim, 'The Seventh Seal' (Ra Records/SMC Recordings)

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by Mosi Reeves

It's appropriate for the man most consider the best rapper ever to open his first album in a decade with "How to Emcee." And it's no surprise that Rakim Allah proceeds to hold a clinic on lyricism throughout The Seventh Seal. "Trace this style to the roots of Genesis / The world wonder / I'm still standing like pyramids," he boasts on "Holy Are U." Too bad that the production here is decidedly mortal, from the played-out chipmunk soul of "Message in the Song" to the plodding keyboards of "Satisfaction Guaranteed." The God MC is still waiting for his sonic Michaelangelo.

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