Rakim turns 48 today and he's still arguably the most mythic emcee in hip-hop. It's rare to see a hip-hop artist who's extremely respected and revered but who's persona is also shrouded in mystery. The man's legacy is well-established: elevated the art of emceeing in the late 80s, went on a classic four album run with erstwhile partner Eric B. before disappearing in the mid-90s only to re-emerge towards the end of the decade as one of the most celebrated artists the genre has ever seen.

His style serves as a standard for emcees everywhere--most notably those out of New York City. From Nas to Prodigy to Joey Bada$$, you can hear "The R" in almost every rapper that's emerged from the five boroughs since 1988.

Oftentimes, Rakim's legacy is reduced to his historical significance, but he still stands as not only one of the game's best emcees, but also one of hip-hop's greatest artists. The majority of his discography is uniformly strong, but his tendency to drop out of sight for years at a time hasn't exactly helped him become all that visible to 90s babies. But for those who don't know, here's a quick primer on your favorite emcee's favorite emcee.

Check out some classic Rakim videos below: