PopMatters | Review: EPMD – Strictly Business (25th Anniversary Edition)
1988 was a very good year for the then-still blossoming music form of hip-hop. Many critics and historians have even gone as far as to refer to this time period as the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. The dubious title doesn’t unwarranted by any means — 1988 saw the release of plenty of hip-hop albums that over the course of the next 25 years would hold up as venerable hip-hop classics. For starters, take Biz Markie’s Goin Off, Sir Mix-A-Lot’s SWASS and Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s It Takes Two. Need more proof? Okay. There’s also 2 Live Crew’s Move Somethin’, Jungle Brothers’ Straight Out of the Jungle, Ice-T’s Power and Run-DMC’s Tougher Than Leather. Still unimpressed? Cool. Add Eric B. & Rakim’s Follow The Leader, Too Short’s Life Is…Too Short, Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live The Kane, MC Lyte’s Lyte As a Rock and Boogie Down Production’s By All Means Necessary to that list and your opinion should shift drastically. Even without the behemoths that were NWA’s Straight Outta Compton and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, the rundown of classic albums from that year is astounding. 1988 also marked the debut of EPMD, a duo out of Brentwood, New York. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith stepped into an arena already filled with other would-be greats and staked their own claim with Strictly Business.
In its original release, Strictly Business hit shelves on Sleeping Bag/Fresh Records with a tracklisting that was ten tracks deep. On this 25th Anniversary Edition, there are five additional tracks added that are remixes of a few of the album’s singles.
Business gets underway with the album’s title track. A rumble is heard and then a sample of Eric Clapton’s rendition of “I Shot The Sheriff” comes in as EPMD introduce themselves as a no-nonsense duo with the talent to control the crowd, keep the suckers at bay and scoop up all the girlies in one fell swoop. The following “I’m Housin’” also sticks to the same formula of sample-heavy, uptempto and braggadocios hip-hop that could rock a party as well as in a 1988 Jeep Grand Cherokee in the gritty streets of New York.