I know the question you're asking yourselves, why is the name of EPMD's latest LP, Out Of Business? Could it be that after six everlastingly funky albums, Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith-the two cool cats with the fisherman hats-are throwing in the towel. What another break-up? Well don't get your hopes up sucker MC chumps. "This just our last album of the 1900's," the E Double clarifies. "The year 2000 is approaching and we're excited. We want to keep putting out new music. We know in this game, you gotta keep putting out dope material or your spot will get taken."
That's right folks, EPMD ain't going nowhere as evidenced by their brand spankin' new acronym (Erick and Parrish Millennium Ducats). Out Of Business is simply a power move towards the future with an eye on the past. Similar to Rakim's 1997 collection, The 18th Letter: The Book Of Life, the album contains 14 new songs and 14 greatest hits from their classic catalogue. A good combination for hip-hop junkies of all ages.
"What Erick and I found after starting this album was that a lot of our music is still being used by today's new artists," the microphone doctor states. So besides bringing some brand new funk for the piranhas to bite in the 21st century, the brothers from Brentwood, Long Island have decided to give the new school rap fans a history lesson. In case you dummies don't know, a few of hip-hop's biggest hits of the last few years (including Warren G's "I Shot The Sheriff," Jay-Z's "Ain't No Nigga" and DMX's "Get At Me Dog") have all steamrolled up the charts and ignited dance floor with grooves that were freaked first by the legendary duo.
"I think we are the most sampled rap group in history," boasts the green-eyed bandit. "EPMD music has remained relevant throughout the years. A lot of people have used our records and their careers have taken off. A lot of producers rely on old EPMD beats to make new hits." And can you blame them? The beats are slammin' and the group's rhymes are equally engaging. One listen to spectacular singles like "It's My Thing," "You're A Customer," "So Wat Cha Sayin'," "Crossover," and "Headbanger," will leave you marveling at the artistry of indisputably one of hip-hop's greatest groups of all-time.
Among their many, many hits, "You Gots To Chill" (voted by rap fans the greatest song of all-time in The Source's 100th issue) holds special significance to the group. "That was the funk sound from Zapp that we grew up listening to," says Sermon still obviously remorseful of the recent passing of fellow funkster Roger Troutman. "Parrish used to DJ and he had all the records. When we heard the loop it just fit us. When people first heard it they thought we was from the West Coast or the South because nobody from the East was using beats like that." P jokingly adds, "We'd do shows in Texas and we'd have to perform 'You Gots To Chill' four times in one night. We'd try to leave the venue and cats would be like 'no dawg, one more time.'"
But although many rap relics have rocked crowds in the late 80's, very few are still relevant in the late 90's, a fact that's not lost on the group. "For some reason, people don't look at us as old school," Sermon says. "We broke-up in 1992 and hadn't released an album in 5 years and we still went gold.
Anymore remaining non-believers can get the bozack as the new joints from Out of Business are just as potent as the tunes currently playing on your local radio station. Songs like the off-the-rocker "Pioneers," the card-pulling "The Fan," and the soothing "Hold Me Down" keep the 99 funk flowing. Press rewind if these joints haven't blown your mind.
Also incredible are Erick and Parrish's ability to effectively fit in with the current times. You want collabos? They got'em in a smash. Busta Rhymes adds his exuberant energy to the stirring remake of "Rap Is Outta Control" while Brooklyn's bad boys M.O.P., new female artist LADY LUCK and Def Jam's superpowers Redman and Method Man all drop 16 bars of fury each on two captivating versions of the Marley-Marl inspired "Symphony 2000." But as evidenced by their past success, what the people really want to hear are the masters of the slow-flow going toe-to-toe with each other-trading verses back and forth.
"It's the chemistry," Sermon reveals when pressed on the secret to EPMD mania. "We're the only successful rap group to go their separate ways and not achieve the same success as solo artists. I didn't realize how hurt people were when we broke-up. Fans took it personal and were like 'I can't blow them up separately , I just can't.'I feel like if we had not broken-up, we would've have had 10 gold albums and a few platinum ones."
It's OK fellas, time is still on your side. Picking up right where they left off, these living legends are back in town with old favorites and world premieres. Take heed to the words of the artists themselves-relax your mind and let your conscience be free and get down to the sounds of EPMD.