A lot of people always bring up Rakim when it comes to being the greatest rapper of all time. I won't deny that his style fathered many of the styles of the rappers that followed but I grew up in that era of hip-hop when Nas dropped his first classic disc, Biggie and Pac became uber-popular, died, and Jay-Z carried the throne for the next 15 years. For that reason, Rakim's not at the top of my GOAT list but he's definitely on the list and highly respected.
"Microphone Fiend" is one of the first rap joints I can remember hearing back in the day and I remember his voice grabbing my attention and not letting me turn away. Delivery was on point and that break-down at the end just put the icing on the cake. And on a funny note, I remember always thinking that Eric B. was Rakim and vice-versa because the person rapping (I assumed) came first, lol. But that just shows how much respect Rakim had for his DJ, Eric B. That's dope shyt. That was definitely a different era in the sense that one or only a couple producers/DJs would make beats for an entire album. You don't get that nowadays and when you do, people make it seem like the concept is ground-breaking. It's not. It's how things used to be. Back when rappers just rapped from the heart and not about contrived lifestyles of grandeur and before the "super-producer" concept came into hip-hop. Back then the only super producer was Quincy Jones, real talk. Anyway, I'm digressing but I'm sure you get my point.