Eric B. & Rakim will reunite for the first time in 24 years when the legendary hip-hop duo embark on a 2017 tour, Eric B.’s rep, Louis “Uncle Louie” Gregory, confirmed to Rolling Stone Saturday. “Back by popular demand,” Eric B. adds.
In addition to the tour, Gregory says the duo will look to remaster all four of their albums alongside filming new videos for classic tracks like “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Paid in Full.” While there are currently no plans to record new material, Gregory says the legendary group is taking it one step at a time.
“All too often we embrace our icons only after it’s too late,” Gregory tells Rolling Stone. “By having such an important group come together now, it’s an opportunity for parents and their kids to go to a show together and see music that created the foundation for what many of today’s artists were built upon.”
The genesis of the reunion began in July when Eric B. attended Rakim’s headlining benefit set for the Universal Hip Hop Museum in Newark, New Jersey. It was the first time the duo was in the same place for years. “They just started talking and organically reconnecting over time and realizing that they needed to do this,” Gregory says.
On Saturday morning, the Twitter feed brought news of the reunion tour, with the duo tweeting “Preparations are under way for #EricBandRakim’s return. It’s been a long time…” and asking where the Eric B. & Rakim tour should “jump off”; New York, Las Vegas, London and Australia were the options provided.
Gregory said that the current plan is a worldwide tour to start next year. He admits it’s too early to ascertain venue sizes, but the duo are looking into playing select festivals as part of the tour.
Eric B. & Rakim recorded four classic albums together – including their influential 1987 LP Paid in Full and its 1988 follow-up Follow the Leader – before splitting up in 1993. Rakim, who inspired an entire generation of rappers, including Nas and Jay Z, embarked on a solo career without reconnecting with his former DJ and partner.
Eric B. & Rakim were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 but were not inducted. Two years later, Rakim admitted in an XXL interview that he and his former partner weren’t really on speaking terms.
“[Eric B. is] not my enemy but we don’t really speak,” Rakim said of the producer. “I don’t wish him no bad luck, but I don’t call him. I guess Eric B., with what we went through… I’m a loyal dude, and you know doing certain things, especially when you are breaking [bread] with people, you gotta keep it 100 with that person. And it was a couple things in business that I felt that he didn’t handle right that left a real bitter taste in my mouth.”
Gregory says that’s all in the past. “They traveled in different circles for a while, but they always had that connection,” he says. “It’s like reconnecting with your brother.”
Additional reporting by Jason Newman