My family moved to Dallas from MN when I was a HS sophomore ('86) - and I recall getting drawn into and psyched by rap music when I became really exposed to it around that time period... I bought cassette tapes (yes cassette tapes!) of this duo due to having caught them on radio a couple times I guess, and wound up pausing the tapes every few rhymes or so and writing down his lyrics (as much as I could), and then memorizing them (as much as I could) and absolutely worship this guy as THE rap GOD. The genre today has skewed into so much garbagey facets it's f**ked up and seems so "marketed" it's sad. I find it sick too that so much of it today is only about spewing the "n-word" over and over for no f**king reason whatsoever other than to sell-out to gun wielding asswipes. Rakim drops the "n-bomb" just ONCE in his entire career, a couple decades ago (1992, soundtrack for movie "Juice"), as a preempt and WARNING regarding the dawning of the asswipes. i.e. "Don't become an a$$wipe unless you love the n-word..."
But he is a total lyrical genius IMHO. Most of his music is akin to Elvis doing "hip-shaking" as a dorky symbol, but rather than that, he's using lyrics of extraordinary complexity, speed and difficulty, even though they are symbolic of "giving the raspberry" to someone, he actually takes that complexity of tongue motion and makes it lyrical and rhythmic like no other lyricist - ever.