EPMD – Strictly Business.

Late Summer 1988 saw EPMD release their debut Hip-Hop album that years later became regarded as an all-time classic rap album.

Erick Sermon and Parish Smith summon up a  unique mellow – yet hard as hell sound. Lines, samples, beats and loops from Strictly Business have been lifted and name-checked so many times that the record is nodded to not only for its funky beats.

Strictly Business with its prominent Clapton ‘I Shot The Sherriff’ sample sounds unthreatening, party-like even, but the vocal delivery sounds, still, like one of the most assured flowing hip-hop flows of all-time. Sermon and Smith pass the mic as the track seems too, but does not, speed up. It’s a classic.

I’m Housin’ “EPMD is a world affair” sees the act sample Aretha Franklin too subtle effect. Cowbells and a beat that makes you move and want more.

Let The Funk Flow with a near blues loop quickly nods towards the Beastie Boys ‘Slow And Low’. Again the lyrical delivery and interjection is very laid back yet still sounds very much like the real deal. Raw, real and just damn funky.

You Gots To Chill is a song ahead of it’s time. A full six years before Pulp Fiction the ‘Jungle Boogie’ lift fits better here than it that classic movie. That’s not possible? It is! By now you realise you are listening to a very important Hip-Hop LP.

It’s My Thing with it’s Marva Whitney sample slows the album further down – but the groove increases. That movie style sound that would be showcased on ‘Doggystyle’ to such commercial success arguably starts right here.

You’re A Customer again visits ‘Jungle Boogie’ (Kool & the Gang). A very clever blend of ZZ Top and the Steve Miller Band see a Hip-Hop Beta Band sound develop 20 years before that band got moving. A Hip-Hop masterpiece.

The Steve Martin offers of party of the most laid back vibe. Mellow, yet upbeat, humorous and highbrow. The lyrics sound dusted yet so damn fresh.

Get Off The Bandwagon moves the vibe up a little. Warbling sounds and the two MC’s lazily passing mic duties see a knowingly, but never cocky Hip-Hop delivery that in the late 80’s would have been a total revelation.

D.J. K La Boss offers just fantastic turntable skills and loop interjections that would become prevalent in the late 90’s. Clever, subtle lifts of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ show where some influences developed from as EPMD gently but surely push new Hip-Hop boundaries.

Jane closes Strictly Business with a pre-Trip-Hop blunted vibe. Slow loops and quality storytelling burn the album out. The vibe staggers into a near disoriented wallow of heavy experimental funk yet sounds clean throughout.

Strictly Business took Hip-Hop gently by the throat and sneered in the face of commercial rap records. It sounds assured throughout yet never looking for the attention that, with time, it has deservedly gotten…

 

 

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