Holy cow. Rakim is 40!?!!? As of yesterday he is. That means he was 19 when he was making some of the most important hip hop records of all time. In my opinion there is no better m.c. than Rakim. Biggie is as good, but not better.
Eric B. & Rakim were kings of the golden age of hip hop. Along with Public Enemy and EPMD they owned the east coast rap scene.
Unfortunately Eric B. was shot and killed in a botched robbery, so we'll never see a reunion, and Rakim's records just aren't the same with out him. The five years (1987-1992) they were together,though, they made many perfect hard hitting rap records. If I were you I would go back and listen to the singles. Casualties Of War, Eric B. Is President, Don't Sweat The Technique, Follow The Leader, Lyrics Of Fury and this one linked below. The single was recorded for the Juice soundtrack and it's my favorite of their records.
Lastly, it interesting to read Casualties Of War's lyrics, and see how they fit in perfectly with our current war. Different Bush, same soldiers, same Iraq and same digust. Read them here.
Eric B. & Rakim "Juice (Know The Ledge" video
Eric B. & Rakim interview video