William Michael Griffin Jr. is a New York native and rapper known as Rakim. After rising to recognition as one-half of the duo Eric B. & Rakim during the early 1990's golden age of hip-hop, he released his solo debut, The 18th Letter, in 1997. He signed to Dr. Dre's imprint Aftermath Entertainment in 2000, but after wrestling the label for creative control of his first album, he opted out of his contract only three years later, leaving his record on the shelf as he went. Weary of the music business, he retreated Connecticut and continued to work on his craft at a leisurely pace. The album he recorded with Aftermath, titled The Seventh Seal, was eventually dropped in 2009, and Rakim continues to record and release his own material.