TRACKING SHOTS: EPMD

EPMD isn’t really looking for

radio play. “We wasn’t gonna

play the politics,” explains Erick Sermon of their choice to pass on

sweating over spins in the Big Apple. “Just straight

underground. We feel that the web, people like AllHipHop

[the world’s most dangerous site],

[REDACTED, though a good site],

[REDACTED, kinda suspect site];  we feel that  that’s where the people are at. Rock The Bells had, 40,000 50,000

people a night out there.  It was

not one radio commercial, not one magazine ad. It was all Internet.”

 

True. Surely some radio love

wouldn’t hurt, but who are we to argue with the E-Double or his partner Parrish

Smith? The rap duo are certified rap pioneers,

legends, icons or any other similar adjective appropriate to describe their

dedication to the boom-bap. So holla at your local

DJ/payola receiver to get on their job.

 

Nevertheless, EPMD just dropped

their seventh album, We Mean Business,

and beforehand we met with Erick and Parrish at Fat Beats Records’ NYC outpost

(shout to Mark for the hook up) and played them some joints. Of course, their

commentary was golden, like the era they rep.

 

 

DMX “Get At Me Dog”

 Get At Me Dog – DMX

AllHipHop.com:

When this first dropped I immediately thought of EPMD’s

“Get The Bozack” but this was all

new to younger kids at that time. That’s

happened a lot to y’all where people would re-flip samples y’all have

previously rocked.

 

Erick Sermon: I’ll tell you the truth I ain’t really like the beat when I first heard it. (laughs) PMD made the record it was a one bar loop. I was

like that’s kinda weird, you

know what I’m sayin?  But then of course I’ma rock with it cause it’s us. We did

it. You know it was crazy but I heard D do it, it was ill, it sounded even

better.

Get the Bozack – EPMD

AllHipHop.com:

Did y’all know X personally, you were label mates at that time at Def Jam right?

 

Parrish: Yeah kinda, when he was grinding with Atlantic records too, before  he got

to Def Jam. E always say that too with the beat, cause it was so simple, but

then when DMX used it, you know it kinda [helped] us

too. It kept us current when we wasn’t here.

 

 

The Notorious B.I.G. “Going

Back to Cali”

 

Going Back To Cali – The Notorious B.I.G.

 

Erick Sermon: Easy Moe Bee… chopped the s**t outta that record.

 

AllHipHop.com:

Same deal with y’all version [“You Gots To Chill”] and

flipping the loop or did y’all use the LinnDrum?

 

Erick Sermon:

That was a loop…

 

Parrish Smith:

Yea that’s before the LinnDrum, that’s like, we

looped it to the tape and then went around on a chair with a pencil.

Erick Sermon: A

chair like, with a ½ inch, quarter inch tape.

 

Parrish Smith:

Quarter inch so we had to cut, splice it, before the machines.

 

Erick Sermon:

They didn’t really have loop machines back then (laughs).

 

Parish Smith: You

get it? Like you tape it to tape, then Charlie [Charlie Marotta,

engineer], got the sample then you put it around a chair with a pencil. And that’s

how it was looped.

 

AllHipHop.com:

Damn. So did y’all have the record and bring it to the studio knowing you

wanted to use it?

 

Erick Sermon: Yeah, but on a cassette. It wasn’t a record it was a

cassette (laughs)

 

AllHipHop: It’s a Zapp record and now heads are

OD’ing with the vocoder and autotune

effect. What’s y’all take on that?

 

Erick Sermon: It’s dope now cause me and P

get to come back with our sound you know and luckily it just killed two birds

with one stone. We ain’t tryin’ to reach the youth we tryin’

to reach 25 and up.  We don’t

really care about the sales and people be like, “What’s up with y’all tryna compete with now?” We ain’t tryin’ to compete

with nobody. We don’t need it. I would be happy if it happens though but

we not really stressing it. Since that’s our sound and for us to come back with

the single “Listen Up” with Teddy Riley it makes it even better

Listen Up – EPMD

AllHipHop.com: On that “Listen Up” joint ya’ll mentioned DJ’s kind

of being cool on y’all…

 

Erick Sermon: “Even though I’m def I hear DJ’s is saying I’m washed

up and ‘I ain’t playing it’.” 

 

“We drop our first single ‘It’s

My Thing’ and then ‘You’re a Customer,’ boom, we was out.

Then they wanted the album, we got Strictly

Business and we was on the Run’s House tour. Lookin’

at Will Smith.” -Parrish Smith

AllHipHop.com: So have DJ’s actually said, ‘Yo we’re not playing your stuff’?

 

Erick Sermon: Some of ‘em still gon’ front ’cause again, they not used to it. You know they gon’ want to jump on something cause they quote unquote

fitting with the playlist. But luckily me and P are

who we are and we really don’t care, we just doing a Hip-Hop album. If

you hate this CD, then you don’t know what it is, and not to just be boastin’ but the CD is dope.  It got Raekwon, Mobb Deep, Red, Meth, Keith Murray,

Teddy Riley, KRS-One…

 

Parrish Smith: Teddy Riley, Vic Damone…

 

 

Das EFX “Kaught in Da Ak DJ Premier Remix”

 Kaught In The Ak Remix – AllHipHop

Parrish Smith: We ran into DasEFX in

Virginia on the EPMD promo tour for Business As Usual in 1990.  And you know, basically we had our

first Gold album and a lot of success, and we had Redman so…

 

Erick Sermon: Two Gold albums.

 

Parrish Smith: Yeah we had two Gold albums, so because the Hip-Hop

community was good to us, Eric and I just wanted to give back.

 

Erick Sermon: It was a rap contest we saw them at. It was a battle

on the school grounds [Virginia State] and it was a bunch of

groups up there.  These other guys

were good too, the ones who we gave the first prize to. We didn’t give it to

Das we gave it to some other guys but we knew that we was gonna sign Das.

 

AllHipHop.com: So what made y’all go with second place Das instead

of the winner?

 

Erick Sermon: We just knew, from the way that we never heard

that.  The world was gonna be shocked with that. We was like what is that?

 

Parrish Smith: They had the style like right there.

Erick Sermon: They had the swagger they already had the look and

everything already and they had that new flow. First we went to Def Jam and they

wasn’t with it ‘cause we was rockin’

with Redman. And then we went to Sylvia Rhone, at EastWest

and she totally got it quick. You know Sylvia, she signed, Missy, DasEFX, K-Solo, Busta Rhymes.

Anything that was unique, she signed it.

 

Isaac Hayes “A

Few More Kisses to Go”

 

A Few More Kisses To Go – Isaac Hayes

 

Parrish Smith: That’s one of the things that I was like, YO!!! When

I first heard that…  That right

there?! That’s something. Me personally, we was doing

like a whole bunch of stuff and then E came over with that track and Redman

rhyming on it, it was like…”What the f**k!?” 

 

Erick Sermon: It was a 45 I had some 45’s and it sounded good and I

sped it up.

 

“[Redman] got signed off of one line.” -Erick Sermon

AllHipHop.com: Was it a beat you had in the stash for Redman?

 

Erick Sermon: Nah it was just 45’s, just digging.                 

 

AllHipHop.com: I didn’t even realize it’s been 9 years since the

last proper EPMD project.

 

Erick Sermon: It’s been 10 years for everybody, it aint’ just us. 

The whole industry is held up, except Georgia.  So EPMD that’s not us not having an album.

You can’t even say that. Nobody did nothing.

 

Parrish Smith: We coulda came back and

played ourselves without knowing.

 

Erick Sermon: We was gonna

play the game like everyone else until we realized we playing the wrong game, we with the wrong people.  You know what I’m saying? (laughs) We got the wrong team jerseys on.

 

Parrish Smith: In the beginning we

had to come to Manhattan.  Before

we even got to think other people was on us. Now we here like, Oh wow, this is how this goes.  And if you notice, ’88, ’98, 2008.

Every 10 years…

 

Erick Sermon: Every 10, new

beginning. That’s what happens. That’s why I can’t be

mad, like my daughter likes Soulja Boy.  This is their era. The youth is what it

is now, this is their Hip-Hop. When Flash and them came out it was them, when

Run-DMC came they had theirs, after Run-DMC then EPMD came, after EPMD came

Wu-Tang, after Wu-Tang came Bad Boy, Murder Inc. after them came No Limit, then

after them came Cash Money, took them, after them came Lil’ Jon, after him,

came, this whole s**t. 

 

When they took it out, it lost

what the form was and turned into rap music. You know it’s corporate.  But again like me and

P don’t even look at that part. We be out

there.  I don’t know where these

other cats be. We go to any country go to any

borough.  Like Reggie [Redman] said, I could

go to the hood and smoke a blunt with any n***a.  I don’t know no rappers that could

do that without getting robbed and getting beat up.  You can’t go to one of them n****s neighborhood and just go

in there and just be chillin’ in they hood without

them disrespecting you.  How many

cats done came here or the A and got robbed, in New York, or get robbed in L.A. or get taken out

and disrespected in certain places? It’s a whole bunch of ‘em.  ‘Cause it ain’t

nobody really believing, ain’t

no respect in that.  Nobody gonna rob nobody who they

respected.  Or even disrespect

nobody who they respect. 

 

AllHipHop.com: Was there a certain point where the switch flipped

and y’all said no more major labels, we’re going independent?

 

Erick Sermon:  2007

really,  2006

we was still touring.

 

Parrish Smith: B.B. Kings.

 

Erick Sermon: Yeah B.B. Kings. My

sister had came up and was like, “Yo,

I thought I was going to a play”. 

Cause the line was so [long]. So me an P got a

little gassed. (laughs) But we knew that Hip-Hop was

still alive.  Same

thing with the Kane 20th anniversary.

 

 

Leaders of The

New School “Sobb Story”

 

Sobb Story – Leaders Of The New School

 

Erick Sermon: What was that?

 

AllHipHop.com: That’s Leaders of The New School’s “Sobb Story” with Busta on that first verse.

 

Erick Sermon: I don’t remember that.

 

AllHpHop.com: You don’t remember that joint?

 

Erick Sermon: Nah.

 

Parrish Smith: I remember that. The Long Island movement; Busta Rhymes, Charlie, Dinco D, you know and that’s when it was authentic-ness in Hip-Hop, before it started to go in different

directions. That’s when it was innocent, that’s when it was EastWest

DasEFX, Elektra.  And it was basically the same building, so you know you had

the Das EFX then you had the Elektra with Busta Ryhmes [and L.O.N.S.] before he went solo.

 

AllHipHop.com: Repping L.I. must have

been very important for you?

 

Parrish Smith: I think it’s real important cause like if Run-DMC

didn’t do what they did or KRS-One didn’t do what they did and then us being

from Long Island and it’s EPMD, people even to this day believe in “Strong”

Island. You know Long Island is very big it’s not only Suffolk County, it’s

Nassau county, it’s not only the normal towns you know?  People be

sleeping on Riverhead, Bellport. 

So when we go out to the Hamptons and we do a show, that’s who shows

up.  So you know that Long Island

movement is and still, especially with the independent scene.  We got a lot of independent and

underground cats.  You know Cory

Drums, stuff like that cat’s that’s really on the come up.  So I think EPMD just by us being us,

not trying to be something different just by doin’

us, people follow suit. 

 

AllHipHop.com: Did people ever front on y’all because y’all were

from Long Island?

 

Parrish Smith: We never got a chance to see that. ‘Cause we just

came with “It’s My Thing,” brought in the choppers and we was always aligned with

Hip-Hop. Between the Latin Quarters, Special K, Teddy Ted and them and Afrika Bambaataa and them.  So when we drop our first single “It’s

My Thing” and then “You’re a Customer,” boom, we was out.

Then they wanted the album, we got Strictly

Business and we was on the Run’s House tour.  (Laughs) Lookin’

at Will Smith.

 

AllHipHop.com: So no demos or anything like that?

 

Parrish Smith: No. Like every song we made, through our whole

career, we put on a album.  We went in and did a song, that’s how it came out and we put

it out. 

 

Erick Sermon: We were used to it, not having no

money in the beginning. The studio time costs, so whatever money we had we had

to use it and use it well. So, whatever record we made stayed on the CD. And we

kept that, we kept that philosophy that’s why the records were done quick

 

Parrish Smith: We didn’t like the philosophy… some people go in and

do 20 songs and pick 13.

 

Erick Sermon: No. 60, 50. Even Jay- Z had told one of my boys, he

was like “How many records they got? 60 records?”  He was like that’s not good ‘cause if you doin’ all that then you aint

confident on nothing you doin’.

 

Parrish Smith: That’s too much cause you stretch yourself. And an

album is just a snapshot of what you going through at that time.

 

Erick Sermon: So we didn’t have nothing

extra that we had we only had 12 records and that’s what we had.

 

AllHipHop.com: So there ain’t

no lost EPMD tapes?

 

Erick Sermon: Ain’t no lost nothing for this.  Not a piece, not a verse or a sentence, nothing.

 

 

Redman “Funkorama”

 

Funkorama – Redman

 

AllHipHop.com: When y’all first connected with Redman did you have

an idea of what he would become?

 

Erick Sermon: Well, yeah. Me and Parrish we put

him on stage, we had show at Club Sensations in Jersey.

 

Parrish Smith: With Biz Markie.

 

Erick Sermon: And he came in there with Doitall

[Lords of the Underground] and some other DJ. He wasn’t even supposed to be rappin’.  But

one of his man’s said, “Yo my man’s raps”.  Redman stood up, he’s like, “I float

like a butterfly sting like the rock group, process cuts…” whatever it was but

the one metaphor ‘sting like the rock group,’ we put him on stage that night.

 

Parris Smith: That was enough.

 

Erick Sermon: He got signed off of one line, put him on stage.  Cause we knew that his delivery and the

way that it was that he going to be something.  And Parrish said that: “Yo E you

should sign homeboy.”Photos courtesy of YARDY PICS PHOTOGRAPHY.

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