Salute The Spitter: 20 Memorable Lyrics From ‘Don’t Sweat The Technique’

Few combinations in hip-hop history have influenced the culture in the way that Eric B. & Rakim did during their reign, which came during rap’s first golden era, and would result in some of the greatest songs in the history of the genre. In 1992, the New York natives released their fourth studio album, Don’t Sweat The Technique, which would also be their last album as a unit before disbanding and going their separate ways.

Ending a six-year run, much of which was spent at the top of their craft—although Eric B. & Rakim were not championed by the mainstream—in rap circles, the duo was considered royalty due to Rakim’s groundbreaking lyricism, Eric B.’s (alleged) production, and their street-wise image. Debuting in 1986 with the masterpiece, Paid In Full, Eric B. & Rakim would become one of the most respected and beloved duos on the scene. They wowed listeners with their music as well as their fashion sense, which was immortalized on the album’s cover, on which the pair sported custom jackets made by Dapper Dan.

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Subsequent albums like Follow The Leader and Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em would further solidify Eric B. & Rakim as lords of the underground, but by 1992, with inner-turmoil causing a rift between the two, the writing was on the wall as they prepared for what would be their last hurrah. Released on June 22, 1992, Don’t Sweat The Technique peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 chart, boasted three hit singles (“What’s On Your Mind,” “(Juice) Know The Ledge” and “Don’t Sweat The Technique,” plus standouts like the socially conscious “Casualties of War”) and ended Eric B. & Rakim’s musical partnership on a high note.

Now, 25 years after its release, we’ve picked out 20 lyrics from the album that stand the test of time and speak to Rakim’s standing as a supreme soloist.

1. “What’s On Your Mind”
“She turned away, no play, I said okay/You don’t really look good, I hope you have a bad day/Sat back, relaxed though the ride was tight/I was thinking of the rhymes I wrote last night/Next stop was mine, a familiar scene/I was meeting my friend, Killer Ben in Fort Greene/Where the girls are real, they tell ya how they feel/If you’re soft, you’re soft, or if you’re hard like steel”

2. “Teach The Children”
“Discrimination in the racial nation/While they destroy our strong foundation/Nature’s balance is way off balance/They tip the scale, now it’s no more silence/The hole in the ozone layer’s outta control/But they wanna fight for more oil and gold/Unemployment, I got laid off/The streets is the last resorts to get paid off”

3. “Pass The Hand Grenade”
“Commas and quotation marks separate the sparks/Followed the course in to avoid getting sharked/More volts than a lightning bolt, handle with care/I’m far from fragile, warfare won’t tear/Armed and dangerous, trained for combat/Let off rounds and they won’t respond back”

4. “Pass The Hand Grenade”
“If you try this, your response is tonsillitis/I’m leaving authors and writers with arthritis/You got the slightest ideas, I got the brightest/Here’s the lightest, so clear, it’s out of sight, it’s/Dark, but from the darkness, came the light/The night is the time for Ra to recite it/Educated, but complicated style/For all the biters, I’m shutting rappers up like Midas”

5. “Casualties of War”
“Sky lights up like fireworks blind me/Bullets, whistlin’ over my head remind me/President Bush said attack/Flashback to Nam, I might not make it back/Missile hits the area, screams wake me up/From a war of dreams, heat up the M-16/Basic training, trained for torture/Take no prisoners, and I just caught ya”

6. “Casualties of War”
“Go to the Army, be all you can be/Another dead soldier? Hell no, not me/So I start letting off ammunition in every direction/Allah is my only protection/But wait a minute, Saddam Hussein prays the same/And this is Asia, from where I came/I’m on the wrong side, so change the target/Shooting at the general; and where’s the sergeant?”

7. “Rest Assured”
“I’m fillin up the page when I’m steppin on stage/Got the people in a rage with they hands in the air/Fellas sayin HOE, everybody yellin GO/Fly ladies in the house all screamin “awww yeah”/That’s how they react when I attack the mic/In fact it’s like a stack of dynamite, powerful and bright”

8. “The Punisher”
“Try to identify the man in front of ya/But it ain’t the role, the gear, or the money, the/Swift intellectionist with plenty, ya/Bite, if it’s dark I’ll spark every one of ya/I throw a mic in the crowd, if it’s questioned/I got the answer, it includes directions/Go manufacture a mask, show me after/A glass of a master that has to make musical massacre”

9. “The Punisher”
“I hold the mic as hostage, emcees as ransom/Rhymes’ll punish ‘em cuz they don’t understand ‘em/I heat up his brain, then explain then I hand him/A red-hot microphone…that’s how I brand ‘em”

10. “The Punisher”
“I took a kid and cut off his eyelids/Kill him slow so he could see what I did/And if he don’t understand what I said/I’m pushing his eyeballs way to the back of his head/So he can see what he’s getting into/A part of the mind that he never been through”

11. “Keep The Beat”
“You lay like Sade, it feels like paradise/At the top of the pyramid, we review new heights/The scenery of Egypt, you and me as we get/So deep in the groove, when you move, you get seasick/You seen enough, close your eyes and relax/Move wit the tracks and stay tuned for the sax/The instrumental, enters your mental/Tense but gentle and sentimental”

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12. “Keep The Beat”
“But this time it’s instrumental at a faster tempo/All I wanna hear is “Yeah Rakim, Go!”/I work overtime on your body and mind/Cause I’m incline to do both combined/My job is never done but done well/Horizontal or parallel”

13. “What’s Going On”
“The times is harder, the drugs is heavier/You say whatever, the more, the merrier/Smoke chokes your dreams and blurs your scenes/Now a young man fiend change his plan to schemes/No more good times, no more time/Too far to find, you’re almost blind”

14. “What’s Going On”
“My neighborhood don’t look so good/I’ll find a way out, yeah, I would if I could/But the government is doing a project/So I live in the projects/Where we fight for elbow room to the doom/Try to live long but you die too soon/I might not be alive to see 25/Taught at ten to make money and strive”

15. “What’s Going On”
“The crime rate in New York State elevate/A city filled with hate, more deaths accumulate/Drug wars daily, a lot of blood spilt/Kids on the playground shot down and killed/Nobody wants to live on the first floor no more/Cause stray bullets explore/We’re killing ourselves off slowly but surely/And at the end of the year, I’m sure many more’ll be”

16. “Juice (Know The Ledge)”
“I grew up on the sidewalk where I learned street talk/And then talked to all New York/I go to Queens for queens, to get the crew from Brooklyn/Make money in Manhattan and never been tooken/Go Uptown to the Bronx to boogie down/Get strong on the Island, recoup, and lay around”

17. “Juice (Know The Ledge)”
“Switch to southpaw, split your right jaw/Cause I don’t like y’all, I’m hype when night fall/Smooth but I move like an army/Bulletproof down in case brothers try to bomb me/Putting brothers to rest like Elliot Ness/Cause I don’t like stress”

18. “Juice (Know The Ledge)”
“In control of many like Ayatollah Khomeini/Hang out with Smith and Wesson, don’t try to play me/I’m at war a lot, like Anwar Sadat/But no warning shot, my gun is warm a lot/When I cook beef, the smoke will never clear/Areas in fear but this here’s severe/Living life too close to the edge/Hoping that I know the ledge”

19. “Don’t Sweat The Technique”
“Let’s trace the hits and check the file/Let see who bit to detect the style/I flip the script so they can’t get foul/At least not now, it’ll take a while/I change the pace to complete the beat/I drop the bass to MC’s get weak/For every word they trace it’s a scar they keep/Cause when I speak, they freak to sweat the technique”

20. “Kick Along”
“A pen’ll send adrenaline to ten/If then begin to blend the smooth that’s sent/That’s to prevent you from getting asthma/You try to keep up, because, the cut has ya/Blood pressure to the point, never stops a drop/Putting stain in the veins in the brain, your blood clots/Too quick to pause it, you almost lost it/So kick along til you’re all exhausted”