Sweat the Technique: Revelations on Creativity from the Lyrical Genius (Hardcover)
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On the heels of Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize, as the world begins to recognize the creative side of Hip-Hop, comes a writing guide from a musician and "The greatest MC of all time," Rakim.
The musician and Hip Hop legend—hailed as “the greatest MC of all time” and compared to Thelonious Monk—reimagines the writing handbook in this memoir and guide that incorporates the soulful genius, confidence, and creativity of a master artist.
When he exploded on the music scene, musical genius Rakim was hailed for his brilliant artistic style, adding layers, complexity, depth, musicality, and soul to rap. More than anyone, Rakim has changed the way MCs rhyme. Calm on the mic, his words combine in a frenzy of sound, using complicated patterns based on multisyllabic rhymes and internal rhythms. Rakim can tell a story about a down-on-his-luck man looking for a job and turn it into an epic tale and an unforgettable rhyme. He is not just a great songwriter—he’s a great modern writer.
Part memoir, part writing guide, Sweat the Technique offers insight into how Rakim thinks about words, music, writing, and rhyming as it teaches writers of all levels how to hone their craft. It is also a rare glimpse into Rakim’s private life, full of entertaining personal stories from his youth on Long Island growing up in a home and community filled with musiciansto the clubs of New York and the studios of Los Angeles during his rise to the top of popular music. Rakim celebrates the influences that shaped his development, including the jazz music of John Coltrane and the spirituality of the streets, and shares anecdotes spotlighting personalities such as L. L. Cool J. and Dr. Dre, among others.
Filled with valuable lessons for every writer, Sweat the Technique reveals the heart and mind of an artist and his love for great storytelling, and always, the words.
About the Author
Rakim reigns as one of hip-hop’s most transformative artists. Along with his partner Eric B., he recorded 1987’s Paid in Full, the landmark recording that MTV named "the greatest hip-hop album of all time." Rakim’s inimitable style lyrics, which has drawn comparisons to jazz icon Thelonious Monk, have been cited as an influence on a wide range of top-selling musicians including Jay Z, Nas, Eminem, Tupac, 50 Cent, and The Notorious B.I.G. Rakim is the recipient of the 2012 "I am Hip Hop" Trophy, the 2013 BET Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as multiple Vstrong Hip Hop Honors.
“Reflections on a life of artistic commitment during hop-hop’s golden age. . . insightful.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“[Sweat the Technique] joins the best of rap history and criticism and has the potential to inspire a new age of rap lyricism.”
“Reading Sweat the Technique is like listening to a classic Rakim track with the same codification, spirituality, and simple-complexity that will make the reader press rewind and start at page one several times over.”
— East Bay Express
"Rakim and music journalist Bakari Kitwana offer a road map guiding readers to the source of his inspiration and the reason behind his career longevity: his unmatched skills on the mic. . . Their work reflects hip-hop's role as an innovative conduit of Black experiences."
— Literary Hub
“Sweat the Technique is the hip-hop version of Stephen King’s On Writing.”