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"Paid in Full"
Paid in Full song
Single by Eric B. & Rakim from the album "Paid in Full"

B-side

"Eric B. Is on the Cut"

Released

1988

Format

12" single, 7" single

Genre(s)

Golden age hip hop

Length

3:48 (single version); 7:10 (Coldcut "Seven Minutes of Madness" remix)

Label

4th & B'way Records

Songwriter(s)

Eric Barrier, Rakim Allah

Producer(s)

Eric B. & Rakim

"Paid in Full" is a 1988 song by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Written and produced by group members Eric Barrier and Rakim Allah, the song was released as the fifth single from the duo's debut studio album Paid in Full. "Paid in Full" became one of the group's most successful singles, owing heavily to a popular remix of the song by English dance music duo Coldcut.

Composition and lyrics Edit

Like much of the duo's input, "Paid in Full" – produced by Eric B. & Rakim themselves – utilizes several sampled elements. To construct the song's drum track, Eric B. looped a portion from "Ashley's Roachclip", a 1974 song by funk group The Soul Searchers. The bassline was sampled from "Don't Look Any Further" by singers Dennis Edwards and Siedah Garrett. Towards the end of the track, Eric B. also repeatedly scratches the line "This stuff is really fresh!" from "Change the Beat", a much-sampled record by hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy.

Coldcut's remix of "Paid in Full" has been described as a selective remix – one which adds or subtracts material from the original composition. Coldcut incorporated several new elements in producing their remix, including the addition of various vocal samples. The most prominent of these samples was the voice of Israeli singer Ofra Haza, taken from her recording of "Im Nin'alu". Jonathan More of Coldcut had previously played the Haza record in clubs and found that when he lowered its pitch, it synced perfectly with the "Ashley's Roachclip" drum sample. The success of the remix helped thrust Haza into the public eye. "Im Nin'alu" was remixed and released as a single in its own right, and sales of Haza's 1984 album Yemenite Songs increased dramatically. Haza only took issue to the fact that she was not informed of the sample. Another notable element of the Coldcut remix is its opening vocal sample, "This is a journey into sound!" – the voice of British actor Geoffrey Sumner. "Now wait a minute, you better talk to my mother" comes from Humphrey Bogart and the 1946 classic film The Big Sleep. The lines "Pump up the volume" and "Dance to the record" are sampled from Eric B. & Rakim's own song "I Know You Got Soul", also from Paid in Full. Other sample sources present in the remix include an anonymous James Brown, Don Pardo, the Peech Boys and the Salsoul Orchestra.The song is believed to be the first hip hop record which layers singing over a drumbeat.

Critical reception Edit

"Paid in Full" received acclaim from music critics, who complimented the song's lyrics and production.

Rolling Stone magazine named "Paid in Full" the tenth greatest hip hop song of all time. Rakim's wordplay was praised and comparisons were drawn to American jazz musician John Coltrane: "His [Rakim's] incandescent thought-bubble rap – barely a minute long – is all iced flow and sly beat-dodging, a good-vs.-evil meditation that calmly frames thug life inside real-life economics and a novelist's eye for detail." VH1 placed the song at number 24 on their list of the 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.

The Coldcut remix has also been acclaimed, with its utilization of samples – particularly that of "Im Nin'alu" – being complimented. Dorian Lynskey of The Guardian named it a "benchmark remix" and placed it in his top ten list of remixes. Chuck Eddy of Spin called the remix Coldcut's "greatest moment".

Charts Edit

Chart (1987-1988) Peak position
France (SNEP) 49
Germany (Official German Charts) 12
Netherlands (Single Top 100) 5
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 15
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard) 65
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