On this day in Hip Hop history in 1988, one of the culture’s most prolific duo’s Eric B. & Rakim released their sophomore LP Follow the Leader. Coming shortly after their game-changing debut Paid in Full, their second album showed that not only did the two find a formula of success but that they had yet to hit a ceiling. The refinement of both Rakim’s lyrical prowess and Eric B’s beat-making ability is evident in large part on this album. Follow the Leader had everything one could ask of an album from the Golden Era of Hip Hop.
Selling 500,000 within the year of its release, the album received gold certification as well as the #22 spot on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. Two of the four singles from the project, “Follow the Leader” and “Microphone Fiend” also made appearances on multiple Billboard music charts. Critically, this album received praise across the board being praised as more consistent and cohesive than the duo’s debut. Critics from numerous publications noted the growth of Eric B and Rakim as both rappers and pop icons. Although it may not have sold as many copies or made as much noise, Follow the Leader is in more ways than one a more polished project than Paid in Full and is in large part the reason for the duo’s longevity and status.