Long Island was conspicuously absent from KRS-ONE’s borough boasts on “The Bridge Is Over.” Brentwood, LI natives Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith helped prove that the Island was fertile breeding ground for New York Hip-Hop talent not unlike Brooklyn or Queens.
Diverging lyrical styles and unique production are the key characteristics that made E Double and The Mic Doc stand out as one of the most well regarded Hip-Hop groups of all time. Erick, the charismatic clown prince, and PMD, the ever serious muscle of the crew were your favorite rappers’ favorite rappers. For the uninitiated, these ten tracks are essential to revealing the depth of the enduring influence the group had on all that followed. This is The Primer: EPMD
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1. “You’re A Customer”
A simple bassline, kick and snare combo, and timely Steve Miller Band and Kool & The Gang vocal samples were the back drop for one of the quintessential back-and-forth performances of a discography that has many. PMD’s straightforward bully tactics alternating with Erick Sermon’s unmistakable lisp is as good as it gets in the history of Hip-Hop duo performances.
2. “You Gots To Chill”
Whatever happened to the funk? Returned to national prominence by Dr. Dre in the early ’90s, during the era of the original Chronic, few artists utilized bass- and synth-heavy funk samples as well as EPMD (and Erick Sermon later in his outside production work and as a solo artist). “You Gots To Chill” was the among the first Hip-Hop songs to utilize a Zapp sample. The funk-laden production and back-and-forth verses from Erick & Parrish are EPMD at its best.
3. “It’s My Thing”
Younger rap fans may recognize the beat from the recreated version Jay-Z and a young Foxy Brown used for “Ain’t No Nigga,” but the Long Island duo did damage to it when Jigga was still Jaz-O’s sidekick.
4. “So What Cha Sayin’”
Erick and Parrish avoided the sophomore slump with this missive fired at those who hoped they would fall off after their first album. The was Unfinished Business’ only official single, yet it carried it to gold only three months following the album’s release.
5. “Please Listen To My Demo”
The pair details their rise from wannabes to emcees on this quiet storm-meets-b-boy ballad.
LL Cool J turns in one of the best guest appearances in Hip-Hop history on “Rampage.” The fact that Uncle L almost never guested on other artists’ songs made the verse seem even more memorable. And add typically stellar performances by Erick and Parrish to create an absolute must listen.
7. “Gold Digger”
So what happens when Erick and Parrish make dollars? A long line of newfound friends want to share in the wealth. Not the least of which are the beautiful women that fill every venue with their spandex-clad, cornbread- and/or surgery-enhanced bodies. The Long Island duo let the ladies know that they are hip to their schemes on the Funkadelic-boosted “Gold Digger.”
Their (first) eventual split sent tremors throughout the rap world. It would be four years before we heard from the Long Island natives again, but they went out with a bang. Joined by K-Solo and future star Redman, “Headbanger” turns up the aggression to a level unseen at this point in the group’s career. Trading in their fisherman hats for black hoodies, the tension between the two group members seems to have fueled some high intensity performances.
It’s hard to remember but there was a time when tempering one’s sound to appease the mass culture’s pop sensibilities was considered a bad thing for Hip-Hop artists. EPMD took their contemporaries to task on “Crossover” for selling their respective souls to appeal to radio program managers, and somehow managed to score their biggest hit.
Making an appearance on each album, the object of Erick and Parrish’s affection seemed like more trouble than she was ever worth. Still, the headaches she caused were at least the source of some great music.