EPMD – Strictly Business Priority, 1988
The year 1988 unleashed a barrage of classic albums like no other. Ground breaking records like Follow The Leader,Long Live The Kane and the controversial Straight Outta Compton, made Hip Hop fans proud to be a part of the culture. Nevertheless, the true Cinderella story came from a group who emerged on the scene with the moniker; Erick and Parish Making Dollars. And the hype surrounding their debut album Strictly Business, definitely got our Hip Hop juices flowing.
- Strictly Business
- I’m Housin’
- Let the Funk Flow
- You Gots to Chill
- It’s My Thing
- You’re a Customer
- The Steve Martin
- Get Off the Bandwagon
- D.J. K La Boss
What was most impressive about this album was EPMD’s uncanny ability to infuse multiple samples over one track and not make it sound cluttered. This creative “black eye” to the art of sampling, mostly due to highly regulated copyright and sample clearance laws, made Strictly Business amazing. Considering EPMD did not have to worry about those circumstances, the duo made no qualms by taking full advantage of free clearances.
The title track sampled Eric Clapton’s remake of the Bob Marley classic “I Shot The Sheriff,” which infused vocals from their single “It’s My Thang,” reminding rappers, “Not to get too close or you might get shot!” “You Gots To Chill” was one of the group’s most prominent tracks, pushing the envelope creatively by infusing Zapp’s “More Bounce To The Ounce,” with Kool & The Gang’s, “Jungle Boogie.” What also made the track remarkable, other than the unique arrangement of samples, was the innovative way the echo chamber was manipulated on their vocals, giving it a larger sound sonically. This allowed the record to have an incredible vocal edge over other rap albums. The funky up-tempo track “I’m Housin,’” borrowed Aretha Franklin’s, “Rock Steady.” Using a tag team approach dispelled the myth that EPMD only knew how to rock a slow rhyme. “Let The Funk Flow” mixed vocals from the Beastie Boys with the JB’s classic “The J.B. Monorail.” It was such an infectious funk track that it made Nas “look” for this beat to use for his 1999 single, “Nastradamus.” In addition, “It’s My Thing” set things off with a helicopter sample from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” leading into the thumping bass line from the Whole Darn Family’s “Seven Minutes Of Funk.” This particular track commanded the listener to take notice including Jay-Z who would use it in later years.
There was no question that “You’re A Customer,” should have been the title track. The bass line alone was hard enough to get any party scene jumping immediately. The track forever embedded EPMD in the minds of every Tom, Dick and Stan from Uptown Records to Bad Boy. “The Steve Martin” followed the trend of Hip Hop dance raps like the Pee Wee Herman, which a majority of rap artists capitalize on today.
“Get Off The Bandwagon” stayed true to fashion for that in your face eighties style of confronting a sucker emcee. We longed for up and coming rap acts to have the tenacity to openly address the cookie cutter format that had been adopted as the years progressed. The next track, “DJ K La Boss,” showcased La Boss’ skills on the one’s and two’s. Although he was good, he was no DJ Scratch, which is still an argument that even K La Boss would have no problems admitting. The last track “Jane,” sparked a series of episodes for the next six albums, which spoke about their encounters with a promiscuous female. The story took place over a Joe Tex sample of “Papa Was Too,” mixed with the smooth funk blend of Rick James’ “Mary Jane,” creating a storyline that EPMD fans would follow continuously.
During that golden year, most did not know the subject matter displayed on this album would be as influential as it was, giving birth to what most Southern Hip Hop fans would later accredit to Cash Money as “bling bling” rap. EPMD had the lyrical flair that was simplistic yet dope enough to tackle “business matters” that were obsolete when they arrived on the scene. Both emcees were pioneers in their flow but more creatively, EPMD broke new ground with the art of chopping samples. Ironically, the signature G-Funk sound that made Dr. Dre the most sought out producer on the West coast, was created by non other than the brothers with the slow flow. EPMD produced an unforgettable album that was a blueprint for Hip Hop in the late eighties. They gave us dope beats and fresh rhymes; what more could we ask for?