With Hip Hop seeing an explosion of new artists (who are almost exclusively found throughout this here internet) and a shift in sound that is progressing with the times, artists from the previous era or two are looking to remain relevant and continue to deliver to their fans what they have come to expect.
EPMD may have taken some time off, but with their recent reunification leading to the release of We Mean Business it seems Erik and Parrish are serious about continuing their legacy into a fourth decade – this year marks their twentieth year in the industry, spanning three decades.
While the title is an obvious continuation from the always business minded pair, it suits the quick hitting album incredibly well. From the opening track Sermon never lets the beats mellow out as everything remains up tempo along with his trademark funk samples that knock hard.
EPMD ft. Raekwon “Puttin’ Work In”Raekwon joins them for the opening cut “Puttin’ Work In” where they walk a line between discussing what that means on the street and for them as artists. It feels more street oriented than I remember them being on past albums, but as my boy Swerve pointed out, you have to adjust to the times and this is a minor adjustment that doesn’t weigh down the album as a whole.
The street swagger remains in effect for their collaboration with Havoc “What You Talkin” before they “Roc-Da-Spot” for self. With a great Zapp sample in place this analog synth driven banger is sure to become a new monster for the group to drop live and will deservedly so sit next to any of their funky bangers of years past.
EPMD “Roc-Da-Spot”The guests abound here with everyone coming out to assist in EPMDs return to the game and of course that means the Def Squad fam! Redman owns “Yo” holding down both the hook and a stellar verse over Sermons perfect keyboard driven beat with a well placed quite vocal hum in the background on loop – “Roll that shit, light that shit, smoke it!” Keith Murray comes through on “They Tell Me,” a darker affair than a lot of the tracks Sermon propels this forward with a thumping 808 for them to tell tales about their time in the industry – they’ve been around for it all.
EPMD ft. Redman “Yo”Throughout the album it’s a recurring theme of theirs to discuss the haters and the assortment of topics spoken about them over the years. For those who said they fell off or they couldn’t make it check out the Teddy Riley assitsted “Listen Up” for a great introspective joint that offers one of only a few moments where the energy is placed as secondary to the message. Does anyone else find TR on the voice box impressive? That’s how it should be done.
“Bac Stabbers” uses the classic O’Jays cut of the same name - well, almost – to talk about, you guessed it, them back stabbing mother fuckers who just can’t stand to see someone else succeed. “Never Defeat ‘Em” serves as their victory track declaring their reign and breaking down why you can’t beat ‘em. Method Man shows up here with a typical show stealing guest verse – but Erik and Parrish own this, just listen to them take you to school.
While Sermon proves he is still an animal behind the boards, he takes one break to let 9th Wonder deliver a stellar beat on “Left 4 Dead.” Thumping like 9th has proven to deliver, and filled with a great organ chop Erik and Parrish are joined by Skyzoo for Hip Hop’s obituary.
EPMD ft. Skyzoo “Left 4 Dead” (Prod. By 9th Wonder)We Mean Business is just one more reason this Hip Hop journalist won’t be writing that obituary this year.