Don't Sweat the Technique

Don't Sweat the Technique

The fourth and final Eric B. & Rakim album, 1992’s Don’t Sweat the Technique, arrived just six years after the duo transformed the sound of hip-hop, thanks to Rakim’s incomparable rhymecraft and Eric B.’s clattery James Brown loops. With Don’t Sweat the Technique, the musicians closed out their game-changing run with jazz samples, head-cracking snares, soulful horns, and manic tempos. And while at the absolute peak of his lyrical powers, Rakim explored his more socially conscious leanings. As he says in “Teach the Children”: “No more time to pass time ’cause these are the last rhymes/’Cause we’re living in the last times.” The album’s title track—the group’s first and only song to top the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart—is a classic slice of NYC jazz-rap, with Rakim doing a merciless, technical ode to his own inimitable rap style over a funky upright bass (“For every word they trace, it’s a scar they keep/’Cause when I speak, they freak to sweat the technique”). Meanwhile, “Know the Ledge” served as the theme song to the transformative Tupac Shakur crime drama Juice. The song evocatively channels the Harlem teens depicted in the film, all of whom are thirsting for survival in hopeless situations. Elsewhere on Don’t Sweat the Technique, “Casualties of War”—released after Operation Desert Storm—vividly uses the fragile mind-state of a soldier to question America’s role in global combat. “Teach the Children” is a venomous screed on economic disenfranchisement—a Robin Hood story where Rakim steals from rich neighborhoods and local drug dealers. And “What’s Goin’ On” is Rakim’s update of the Marvin Gaye classic, for which the rapper provides a more street-level perspective: “Nobody wants to live on the first floor no more,” he raps, “’cause stray bullets explore.” Eric B. & Rakim would close the book on their recording partnership in 1993. But Don’t Sweat the Technique finds them exiting the stage while at the peak of their creative and commercial powers.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada