Paid In Full

Album: Paid In Full (1987)
Charted: 15
Play Video


  • In this early hip-hop classic, Rakim raps about the satisfaction of earning money by doing what he loves, which is making music. In contrast to many later rap songs where MCs flaunt their excessive wealth, Rakim is very humble in this song, with money allowing him the freedom to buy a plate of fish and get paid for honest work. Rakim's delivery also went against the grain, as most rappers shouted at the time, but he kept is smooth and laid back.
  • There are several samples used in this song, notably the bassline, which comes from the song "Don't Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett, and the drums, which are from "Ashley's Roachclip" by The Soul Searchers. The resulting beat was used in some form in many pop songs from 1988-1992, including "Sadeness (Part One)," "Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)" and "Close To You."
  • Long before he met Eric B, Rakim would rap over the breakbeat to "Don't Look Any Further," often in parks where DJs would create the loop for him. When he wrote the "Paid In Full" lyric, he synched up the bass line to the "Thinkin' of a master plan" line in consideration of the "Don't Look Any Further" lyric. "A brother lookin' for a job don't look no further," he told Hip-Hop Connection.
  • The production duo Coldcut did a popular remix of this song soon after it was released. Their version used several vocal samples, most prominently "Im Nin'Alu" by the Israeli singer Ofra Haza.

    The master tapes were not available for the remix, so they had to add their own scratches and samples to the raps and original bassline. The "Im Nin'Alu" sample was pitched down to match the bassline.
  • Snoop Dogg performed this in the 2003 movie Old School, changing his favorite dish from fish to chicken wings.
  • The Coldcut remix was featured on the soundtrack to the 2000 movie American Psycho, as was another remix by The Racket.
  • In 2002, a movie called Paid In Full that features this song was released. The film is set in Harlem in the '80s, with characters navigating the drug trade. Other movies to use this song include:

    White Boy Rick (2018)
    Brown Sugar (2002)
    CB4 (1993)

    "Paid In Full" was also used in the pilot episode of the 2018 TV series Pose, and in the 2012 Parenthood episode "One More Weekend with You."

Comments: 2

  • Vince from Salisbury, MdThe "7 Minutes of Madness" Coldcut remix also appears in the 1988 film "Colors".
  • Lench from La Mirada, CaClassic, one of the best hip-hop/rap tunes ever. Sick beat.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Ian Anderson of Jethro TullSongwriter Interviews

The flautist frontman talks about touring with Led Zeppelin, his contribution to "Hotel California", and how he may have done the first MTV Unplugged.

George Clinton

George ClintonSongwriter Interviews

When you free your mind, your ass may follow, but you have to make sure someone else doesn't program it while it's wide open.

Thomas Dolby

Thomas DolbySongwriter Interviews

He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.

Mick Jones of Foreigner

Mick Jones of ForeignerSongwriter Interviews

Foreigner's songwriter/guitarist tells the stories behind the songs "Juke Box Hero," "I Want To Know What Love Is," and many more.