TRACKING SHOTS: EPMD
EPMD isnt really looking for
radio play. We wasnt 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 worlds most dangerous site],
[REDACTED, though a good site],
[REDACTED, kinda suspect site]; we feel that thats 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
wouldnt 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
When this first dropped I immediately thought of EPMDs
Get The Bozack but this was all
new to younger kids at that time. Thats
happened a lot to yall where people would re-flip samples yall have
Erick Sermon: Ill tell you the truth I aint really like the beat when I first heard it. (laughs) PMD made the record it was a one bar loop. I was
like thats kinda weird, you
know what Im sayin? But then of course Ima rock with it cause its us. We did
it. You know it was crazy but I heard D do it, it was ill, it sounded even
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 wasnt here.
The Notorious B.I.G. Going
Back to Cali
Erick Sermon: Easy Moe Bee chopped the s**t outta that record.
Same deal with yall version [You Gots To Chill] and
flipping the loop or did yall use the LinnDrum?
That was a loop
Yea thats before the LinnDrum, thats 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.
Quarter inch so we had to cut, splice it, before the machines.
They didnt 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 thats
how it was looped.
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 wasnt a record it was a
AllHipHop: Its a Zapp record and now heads are
ODing with the vocoder and autotune
effect. Whats yall take on that?
Erick Sermon: Its 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 aint tryin to reach the youth we tryin
to reach 25 and up. We dont
really care about the sales and people be like, Whats up with y'all tryna compete with now? We aint tryin to compete
with nobody. We dont need it. I would be happy if it happens though but
we not really stressing it. Since thats our sound and for us to come back with
the single Listen Up with Teddy Riley it makes it even better
AllHipHop.com: On that Listen Up joint yall mentioned DJs kind
of being cool on yall
Erick Sermon: Even though Im def I hear DJs is saying Im washed
up and I aint playing it.
We drop our first single 'Its My Thing' and then 'Youre a Customer,' boom, we was out. Then they wanted the album, we got Strictly Business and we was on the Runs House tour. Lookin
at Will Smith. -Parrish Smith
AllHipHop.com: So have DJs actually said, 'Yo were 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 dont care, we just doing a Hip-Hop album. If
you hate this CD, then you dont 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
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 didnt 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 yall 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
wasnt 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
Parrish Smith: Thats one of the things that I was like, YO!!! When
I first heard that That right
there?! Thats 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 45s 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 45s, just digging.
AllHipHop.com: I didnt even realize its been 9 years since the
last proper EPMD project.
Erick Sermon: Its been 10 years for everybody, it aint just us.
The whole industry is held up, except Georgia. So EPMD thats not us not having an album.
You cant 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 Im 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. Thats what happens. Thats why I cant 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 its corporate. But again like me and
P dont even look at that part. We be out
there. I dont 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 dont know no rappers that could
do that without getting robbed and getting beat up. You cant 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? Its a whole bunch of em. Cause it ain't
nobody really believing, aint
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 yall said no more major labels, were going independent?
Erick Sermon: 2007
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
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 dont remember that.
AllHpHop.com: You dont remember that joint?
Erick Sermon: Nah.
Parrish Smith: I remember that. The Long Island movement; Busta Rhymes, Charlie, Dinco D, you know and thats when it was authentic-ness in Hip-Hop, before it started to go in different
directions. Thats when it was innocent, thats 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 its real important cause like if Run-DMC
didnt do what they did or KRS-One didnt do what they did and then us being
from Long Island and its EPMD, people even to this day believe in Strong
Island. You know Long Island is very big its not only Suffolk County, its
Nassau county, its 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, thats 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 cats thats 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 yall because yall were
from Long Island?
Parrish Smith: We never got a chance to see that. Cause we just
came with Its 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 Its
My Thing and then Youre a Customer, boom, we was out.
Then they wanted the album, we got Strictly
Business and we was on the Runs 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, thats how it came out and we put
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 thats why the records were done quick
Parrish Smith: We didnt 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 thats not good cause if you doin all that then you aint
confident on nothing you doin.
Parrish Smith: Thats 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 didnt have nothing
extra that we had we only had 12 records and thats what we had.
AllHipHop.com: So there aint
no lost EPMD tapes?
Erick Sermon: Aint no lost nothing for this. Not a piece, not a verse or a sentence, nothing.
AllHipHop.com: When yall 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 wasnt even supposed to be rappin. But
one of his mans said, Yo my mans raps. Redman stood up, hes 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.