Its been over ten years since New York veterans EPMD last released a full length album and much has changed in the Rap game during their long-layoff. However, the dynamic duo are known for their funky, party-starting production and interesting wordplay, so its good to see that after such a long dry spell, Sermon and Parrish are back for more of what they do best.
Yet with their usual rolodex of friends (Redman, Method Man, Keith Murray) to help them spread the message that theyre not messing around; their business practices need to be revamped.
Continuing with the business theme which is a constant in all of their album titles, We Mean Business starts off strong with an assist from none other than Raekwon on Puttin Work In.
Over frenetic, stabbing synths and bass squelches, Sermon and Parrish serve up a slab of danger with help in the kitchen from the Chef on the album opener. Wu finger-prints all over this one, from the classic Psycho Killer / Norman Bates ODB soundbite and this lyrical nod to the Wu, Cause I stay razor-sharp / Like my name was RZA.
Other noteworthy cuts on the release are the Def Squad reunion track Yo featuring Redman, the Teddy Riley produced Listen Up, and the contagious Run It featuring the legendary KRS-One. The 9th Wonder-laced Left For Dead featuring the under-rated Skyzoo is reload worthy as well.
Sadly EPMD offer nothing ground-breaking on this album (Blow, Bac Stabbers) and we definitely could have done without another Jane track. Additionally the over saturation of guest artists provided too much of a crutch for them to lean on after such a long layoff.
It almost seems as if they werent confident enough to rely on each other more on this release and fell into the standard Rap-pitfall of loading your release with a lot of guests to take the heat off yourself.
While these hiccups do not totally undermine, We Mean Business to the point that the listener is disappointed. Sermon and Parrish nonetheless, manage to deliver the goods after such a long time on the shelf, and prove that they are back in the Hip-Hop market and theyre ready to do some business. Its not big business mind you, but it does have value.
EPMD Featuring Raekwon
"Puttin' Work In"