EPMD Albums We Love The Most

EPMD Albums

Feature Photo: Lipstar & Fred Production, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

The rhythmic boom of a funky sample, laced with witty rhymes and laced with unflinching social commentary – that’s the indelible sound of EPMD, the duo of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith. Emerging from the vibrant hip-hop scene of the late 80s, their impact transcended mere chart success, leaving an enduring mark on the genre’s evolution and influencing generations of artists.

From their debut, “Strictly Business,” EPMD established themselves as lyrical innovators. Erick’s production, heavy on soulful samples and sparse grooves, provided the perfect canvas for Parrish’s sharp wordplay. Tracks like “It’s My Thing” and “So Wat Cha Sayin'” showcased their effortless flow and razor-sharp wit, setting the bar for lyrical complexity and storytelling within hip-hop.

EPMD didn’t shy away from social themes. Songs like “You Gots to Be Crazy” and “Let the Funk Flow” addressed poverty, police brutality, and the struggles of everyday life, offering unflinching commentary laced with humor and streetwise wisdom. This social consciousness resonated with listeners, establishing EPMD as voices for the disenfranchised, paving the way for socially conscious hip-hop that thrived in the years to come.

Their influence wasn’t limited to lyrical prowess. EPMD’s “business first” approach, reflected in their independent spirit and self-produced albums, empowered other artists to take control of their careers. This entrepreneurial spirit inspired a generation of rappers to become independent creators, laying the groundwork for the diverse, self-made artists of today’s industry.

But EPMD’s legacy goes beyond lyrics and business savvy. Their laid-back, funky sound, influenced by artists like James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic, injected a new flavor into hip-hop. This soulful infusion broadened the genre’s sonic palette, influencing countless producers and inspiring a more diverse soundscape within hip-hop.

Throughout their career, EPMD collaborated with other hip-hop giants like Redman, LL Cool J, and KRS-One, fostering a sense of community and pushing the boundaries of collaboration. These partnerships not only showcased their versatility but also created anthems that transcended solo efforts, further solidifying their place as key figures in shaping the genre’s collaborative spirit.

Their influence extends beyond the 80s and 90s. Today, artists like Nas, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole cite EPMD as inspirations, drawing from their lyrical prowess, social commentary, and innovative production. This enduring influence underscores the timeless quality of their music and their lasting impact on the genre’s trajectory.

Erick and Parrish, with their signature rhyme schemes, funky beats, and unflinching social commentary, weren’t just rappers; they were architects. They dropped lyrical bombs, challenged the status quo, and redefined what it meant to be a successful hip-hop artist. Their impact resonates not just in chart achievements but in the very fabric of the genre, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire and shape the sound of hip-hop today.

Strictly Business

Released: June 7, 1988

Strictly Business is EPMD’s debut album, marking their entry into the hip-hop scene with a blend of funk-driven beats and laid-back rhymes. The album is a cornerstone of East Coast hip-hop, notable for its heavy use of samples and Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith’s complementary rap styles. It achieved significant commercial success, reaching #80 on the Billboard 200 and securing the #1 spot on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Recorded in Long Island, New York, at North Shore Soundworks, the album’s production was primarily handled by EPMD themselves, showcasing their talent not just as rappers but as producers. The album’s influence is enduring, with tracks like “You Gots to Chill” and the title track “Strictly Business” becoming defining pieces of the late ’80s hip-hop landscape.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Strictly Business” – 4:43
  2. “I’m Housin'” – 4:00
  3. “Let the Funk Flow” – 4:15
  4. “You Gots to Chill” – 4:24
  5. “It’s My Thing” – 5:46
  6. “You’re a Customer” – 5:27
  7. “The Steve Martin” – 4:44
  8. “Get Off the Bandwagon” – 4:25
  9. “D.J. K La Boss” – 4:30
  10. “Jane” – 2:59

Unfinished Business

Released: August 1, 1989

Following their successful debut, EPMD returned with Unfinished Business, their second album that further solidified their reputation in the hip-hop community. The album continued the duo’s trend of incorporating heavy funk and soul samples into their beats, with tracks that are both reflective and boastful. Unfinished Business matched the commercial success of its predecessor, again hitting the #1 spot on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and climbing to #53 on the Billboard 200. The production, largely handled by EPMD themselves, demonstrated growth in their sound and lyrical complexity, featuring hits like “So Wat Cha Sayin'” and “The Big Payback.”

CD Track Listings:

  1. “So Wat Cha Sayin'” – 4:57
  2. “Total Kaos” – 4:32
  3. “Get the Bozack” – 4:12
  4. “Jane II” – 3:02
  5. “Please Listen to My Demo” – 2:49
  6. “It’s Time 2 Party” – 4:37
  7. “Who’s Booty” – 4:17
  8. “The Big Payback” – 4:50
  9. “Strictly Snappin’ Necks” – 4:28
  10. “Knick Knack Patty Wack” – 4:42
  11. “You Had Too Much to Drink” – 6:44
  12. “It Wasn’t Me, It Was the Fame” – 6:25

Business as Usual

Released: December 18, 1990

With Business as Usual, EPMD’s third studio album, the duo continued to innovate within the hip-hop genre, blending hardcore rap elements with their signature funk-infused sound. This album saw the duo expanding their collaborations, featuring guest appearances from future hip-hop luminaries like LL Cool J and Redman. Business as Usual maintained EPMD’s commercial success, peaking at #36 on the Billboard 200 and securing the top position on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Tracks like “Rampage” and “Gold Digger” showcased EPMD’s evolving sound and their ability to tackle different subjects with wit and depth.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “I’m Mad” – 5:20
  2. “Hardcore” (featuring Redman) – 4:30
  3. “Rampage” (featuring LL Cool J) – 3:50
  4. “Manslaughter” – 4:37
  5. “Jane 3” – 2:36
  6. “For My People” – 4:30
  7. “Mr. Bozack” – 2:50
  8. “Gold Digger” – 5:04
  9. “Give the People” – 3:35
  10. “Rap Is Outta Control” – 3:51
  11. “Brothers on My Jock” (featuring Redman) – 4:06
  12. “Underground” – 3:20
  13. “Hit Squad Heist” – 2:25

Business Never Personal

Released: July 28, 1992

Business Never Personal is the fourth studio album by EPMD, continuing their streak of success with a blend of gritty beats and clever wordplay. The album is known for its darker tone and introspective lyrics, reflecting the changing dynamics of the hip-hop scene in the early ’90s. Despite tensions within the group that would lead to a temporary breakup, the album was well-received, peaking at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It included hits like “Head Banger” and “Crossover,” which criticized the commercialization of hip-hop. Recorded at North Shore Soundworks, the production was handled by EPMD, with DJ Scratch contributing to several tracks, showcasing the duo’s ability to evolve their sound while staying true to their roots.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Boon Dox” – 2:47
  2. “Nobody’s Safe Chump” – 2:12
  3. “Can’t Hear Nothing But the Music” – 3:35
  4. “Chill” – 2:57
  5. “Head Banger” (featuring K-Solo & Redman) – 4:52
  6. “Scratch Bring It Back (Part 2 – Mic Doc)” – 3:06
  7. “Crossover” – 3:50
  8. “Cummin’ at Cha” (featuring Das EFX) – 4:03
  9. “Play the Next Man” – 3:36
  10. “It’s Going Down” – 4:12
  11. “Who Killed Jane” – 3:34

Back in Business

Released: September 16, 1997

After a five-year hiatus, EPMD reunited to release Back in Business, their fifth studio album. The album signified their return to the hip-hop scene, bringing back their classic sound with a modern twist. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The production, mainly handled by Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, featured a mix of soulful samples and funk grooves, maintaining the duo’s signature style while addressing contemporary themes and sounds. The album included standout tracks like “Da Joint” and “Richter Scale,” which showcased EPMD’s undiminished chemistry and ability to create compelling hip-hop music.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Intro” – 2:40
  2. “Richter Scale” – 3:15
  3. “Da Joint” – 3:28
  4. “Never Seen Before” – 2:53
  5. “Skull & Crossbones” – 3:45
  6. “Intrigued” (featuring Das EFX) – 3:33
  7. “Last Man Standing” – 3:36
  8. “Get Wit This” – 3:40
  9. “Do It Again” – 3:57
  10. “Apollo Interlude” – 0:49
  11. “You Gots 2 Chill ’97” – 4:13
  12. “Put On” – 3:56
  13. “K.I.M.” (featuring Keith Murray and Redman) – 3:40
  14. “Dungeon Master” (featuring Nocturnal) – 3:24
  15. “Jane 5” – 2:32
  16. “Never Seen Before” (Remix) – 2:52

Out of Business

Released: July 20, 1999

Out of Business served as EPMD’s sixth studio album and was initially intended to be their final release, marking the end of an era for the duo. The album peaked at #13 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, showcasing the duo’s lasting appeal. The album’s production, a mix of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith’s efforts, featured a blend of smooth beats and sharp lyrics, with tracks reflecting on their career and the state of hip-hop. Notable tracks include “Symphony 2000” and “Right Now,” offering a perfect blend of old-school vibes with new school flair.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Intro” – 0:09
  2. “Pioneers” – 4:12
  3. “Right Now” – 3:37
  4. “Check 1, 2” – 3:36
  5. “Symphony 2000” (featuring Redman, Method Man, and Lady Luck) – 4:00
  6. “Hold Me Down” (featuring Das EFX) – 3:28
  7. “Rap Is Still Outta Control” (featuring Busta Rhymes) – 3:39
  8. “The Fan” – 3:35
  9. “Draw” – 3:54
  10. “U Got Shot” (featuring 215 Asasinz) – 3:36
  11. “House Party” – 3:31
  12. “The Funk” – 3:50
  13. “Symphony” (featuring M.O.P.) – 4:01
  14. “Jane 6” – 2:36

We Mean Business

Released: December 9, 2008

We Mean Business is the seventh studio album by EPMD, released after another hiatus, proving that the duo was still a formidable force in the hip-hop world. The album features guest appearances from Raekwon, Teddy Riley, and Method Man, among others, showcasing EPMD’s ability to blend their classic sound with contemporary hip-hop elements. Although it did not achieve the commercial success of their previous albums, it was well-received by fans and critics for its adherence to the core elements of hip-hop, combining hard-hitting beats with clever rhymes. Tracks like “Listen Up” and “Bac Stabbers” highlight the duo’s continued relevance in the evolving hip-hop landscape.

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Puttin’ Work In” (featuring Raekwon) – 3:12
  2. “What You Talkin'” (featuring Havoc) – 3:34
  3. “Roc-Da-Spot” – 4:10
  4. “Blow” – 3:09
  5. “Run It” (featuring KRS-One) – 3:16
  6. “Yo” (featuring Redman) – 2:51
  7. “Listen Up” (featuring Teddy Riley) – 3:38
  8. “Bac Stabbers” – 3:53
  9. “Never Defeat ‘Em” (featuring Method Man) – 2:57
  10. “Jane” – 2:59
  11. “Left 4 Dead” (featuring Skyzoo) – 2:56
  12. “They Tell Me” (featuring Keith Murray) – 3:20
  13. “Actin’ Up” (featuring Vic D, Tre, and Method Man) – 3:59

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