Eric B. Is President

Album: Paid In Full (1986)
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Songfacts®:

  • The first single from Eric B. & Rakim, "Eric B Is President" is a hip-hop landmark: the first popular track to sample James Brown ("Funky President"). Soon after it was released, JB samples started showing up everywhere - one of the most lasting trends in rap.
  • Other track sampled on this one are:

    "Over Like a Fat Rat" by Fonda Rae
    "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved by James Brown
    "The Champ" by The Mohawks
    "Long Red" by Mountain

    Eric B explained: "I picked up Fonda Rae's 'Over Like A Fat Rat' and took the bassline and matched it to the 'Funky President' beat. Rakim heard the mix and he was rollin' on the floor laughin'. I said 'What's wrong with you, man, this is a serious tune'. Rakim thought I was crazy but I can hear when a beat is gonna stick." (New Musical Express, 1987)
  • In the 1986 Janet Jackson song "What Have You Done For Me Lately," she bashes her man, who seems to be taking her for granted. The track touched a nerve for Rakim, who wrote an answer song about it that morphed into "Eric B. Is President."

    "She was comin' on like she's a goddess from above and that got me real upset," he told NME. "Every time I heard it, I'd get real mad. I did not appreciate that one little bit. Answer records were gettin' kinda old and corny so we trimmed it down to that line 'You thought I was a doughnut, you tried to glaze me' - kinda sums up that girl's bad attitude. It could have been a big answer record but they're out of style. That's like wearin' suede Lees - you can't go out dressed like that."
  • Some of the records sampled on this track were in Rakim's mother's collection, which she kept in her basement. Eric B and Rakim spent a lot of time down there listening and gathering ideas.
  • Released in 1986, this track found a stronghold in London clubs and many American hip-hop hotspots. It was included on the landmark Paid in Full album a year later, which did well on both sides of the Atlantic.
  • Note that Eric B. is the DJ, not the rapper. In early hip-hop, the MCs often shared some lyrical love with their DJs, who were trapped behind the turntables. Run-DMC, for instance, often paid tribute to Jam Master Jay.

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