Rakim was born William Michael Griffin Jr. on the 28th of January, 1968 and grew up in Long Island, New York were he learned to rap. The nephew of R&B star Ruth Brown, Rakim became involved in the New York hip hop scene at a young age. He became a member of Nation of Gods and Earth, taking on the name Rakim Allah in 1984. In 1985 he formed a musical partnership called Eric B. and Rakim and subsequently became one of the most well-known and influential groups to emerge from hip hop's so-called "Golden Age" (1986-1993). Prior to Rakim's arrival on the scene, hip hop rhyming still exhibited strong ties to rapping's roots in improvisatory toasting, in very regular meter and rhyme scheme (Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, and others), with simple lyrics and a steady and heavily pronounced rhythm. Rakim, in contrast, tried to model his flow after the saxophone's instrumentation in a jazz song. Music writer Steve Huey stated in the early 2000s that "Rakim's flow is smooth and liquid, inflected with jazz rhythms and carried off with an effortless cool that makes it sound as though he's not even breaking a sweat. He raised the bar for MC technique higher than it had ever been." Rakim's use of metaphor and elaborate phrasing (in contrast to previous hip hop's relatively simple lyricism) was also extremely influential, with music critic Jess Harvell writing in 2005 that "Rakim's innovation was applying a patina of intellectual detachment to rap's most sacred cause: talking about how you're a better rapper than everyone else.î Many hip hop/rap artists (both underground and mainstream) acknowledge a huge debt to Rakim's innovative style; one of his more prominent fans is Nas, who dedicated a song to Rakim, U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim), on his album, Street's Disciple. Other accolades include Eric B. and Rakim's classic album Paid In Full being named the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV. Z-Trip ingeniously marries the undeniable lyrical mastery Rakim commands on LTRHT with a solid rock and roll backdrop performed by Chevelle. Chevelle formed in 1994 in Grayslake, Illinois by brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler with the later addition of Joe Loeffler in 1996 (who was replaced by the Loeffler's brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini). The band's name refers to the Loeffler brothers' father's favorite car.