This album is, undeniably, a classic. It is my favourite hip-hop album ever. If you're expecting something that sounds up to date, then you'll be disappointed, but who cares - this album was made in 1987 and sounds EXACTLY like it was made in that year. Rakim's lyrics and flow are second to none in my opinion, and from his opening line of "I ain't no joke, I used to let the mic smoke, now I slam it when it's done and make sure it's broke" he rhymes effortlessly through this entire album. In comparison he makes most other MCs sound like they are struggling (the only other MCs who have achieved considerable mainstream success who are up there with him in terms of effortless flow, in my opinion, are Nas and Gza). Eric B's beats - pretty minimal and tidy, are fully reminiscent of the 80's (especially "Move The Crowd"). The production is slick and classy. Together they make an unstoppable team. It's like a missing link between the synth-heavy electro of the early 80's and the sample-laden, jazz-funk beats of the late 80's/early 90's, plus with one of the greatest vocal performances in hip-hop laid on top. The album contains a number of classic cuts to name but a few - "I Ain't no Joke", "My Melody", "I Know You Got Soul", plus A Tribe Called Quest's favourite jam back in the day, "Eric B Is President". But every track is great, and the album works well as a whole. It is compulsory listening for anyone wanting to find out what hip-hop sounded like in the late 80's. Actually, it's compulsory listening for anyone who loves hip-hop.