“I was a fiend before I became a teen/I melted microphones instead of cones of ice cream,” Rakim declared, comparing his passion for joining words together to an addiction, on the single “Microphone Fiend,” from 1988 album Follow the Leader. “Music-orientated so when hip-hop was originated/Fitted like pieces of puzzles, complicated.” The rapper's savvy, assured wordplay has always fitted in seamlessly with the samples and beats crafted by DJ Eric B., so it was a big deal when the influential duo from New York finally reunited in 2016 after breaking up in 1993. Stand back and marvel when Eric B. sets the pace as Rakim unravels a density of words into coolly jazzy declamations. “I hold the microphone like a grudge,” Rakim announced on “I Ain't No Joke,” from the duo's 1987 debut, Paid in Full.
The Novo by Microsoft, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown L.A.; Sat., April 13, 8 p.m.; $15 & $30. (213) 765-7000, www.TheNovoDTLA.com.