Widely regarded as a pioneer of hip hop, Rakim was born William Griffin Jr. in 1968. After converting to Islam at 16, the young man met DJ Eric B. at a NYC radio station in 1985. The pair recorded the single Eric B. for President, a street classic that quickly revolutionized rap, with its jazz beats and Rakim's groundbreaking microphone techniques. They quickly followed with the single I Know You Got Soul, in which Rakim belts out the now legendary phrase "Pump up the volume". After two influential albums, Paid in Full (1987) and Follow the Leader (1988), the DJ/MC duo released two more records in the 1990s before calling it quits, amidst legal issues with MCA. Rakim's solo output has included four acclaimed albums since 1997, including 2009's long-awaited The Seventh Seal.