Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Revisiting EPMD's "Back In Business"

After four consecutive certified Gold (and incredibly dope) albums and a surprising breakup that took place in early 1993 due to some unfortunate tension behind the scenes (I still don't believe that Erick Sermon paid someone to break into Parrish Smith's home), EPMD made their long awaited return/reunion with their 5th album, the nicely titled "Back In Business". Before I get to the review, I want to mention a few things.

With both men going their separate ways in 1993, looking back it was somewhat immediately apparent that they were much better with each other than as solo artists, respectively. Erick released two solid albums in 1993's "No Pressure" and 1995's "Double Or Nothing", and due to a respectable track record behind the boards, he was able to keep his name out there. Parrish, on the other hand, received less attention at the time, plus the reception, or lack thereof, to his 1994 debut "Shade Business" and "Business Is Business" in 1996 did him no favors, even with the latter being somewhat of an underrated album. It was only fitting that 1997 would be the year that they finally got back together, and I for one was excited when I heard the news. One more thing, I also wondered if they still kept in contact with each other from 93-96 on an obvious personal level (they were long time friends dating back to the 8th grade), because keep in mind, it was the "business" part that initially broke up the duo. So with all of the negativity and tension behind them, they thankfully reunited in '97.


Release date: September 22, 1997



1. "Intro"
I always had a slight problem with this intro. After an audio clip from Parrish ("EPMD's back together!"), we then get another clip, this time in the form of Tony Montana in "Scarface" as he's shot in the back and killed in the movie's final scene. I'm not sure who's idea that was and to this day I still respectively ask what purpose did any of this serve. You know, a BETTER intro for their reuniting would've been a mix of all of their classic hits from their first four albums, then we get the "EPMD's back together" line at the end. That would've worked a lot better than what we got. Just a minor issue there, lol.


2. "Richter Scale"
Produced By Erick Sermon




After a rather questionable intro, things pick up immediately with this thumping track. Right out the gate, you get the feeling that both men have not missed one step and are re-energized being back together.
*4 out of 5*



3. "Da Joint"
Produced By Erick Sermon
Co-Produced By Rockwilder




This was a damn good choice for the album's first single and I feel this, in addition to them getting back together, is what sold this album. A straight up dope song, arguably the best on the album, and the accompanying video was just as dope.
*5 out of 5*




4. "Never Seen Before"
Produced By Erick Sermon 

"Never say never, EPMD's back together/And if it gets warm, take off the hot sweater!"
 

In a nice touch, Erick and Parrish throw a shoutout to Public Enemy's Chuck D at the beginning of this song. One of PE's classics, "Timebomb", serves as the sample for this banger. Not only is this song another banger, but with the nod to "Timebomb", I'm going the full monty on this one.
*5 out of 5*



5. "Skit"


6. "Intrigued"
Featuring Das Efx
Produced By Erick Sermon

The last time Erick, Parrish, Skoob, and Drayz were on the same song, it was "Cummin' At Cha" from 1992's "Business Never Personal", which also marked Das Efx's debut. Plus, PMD served as Das' executive producer after EPMD's breakup. This song is very good, with all 4 MCs feeling it throughout and you could tell it was all love in the air and on the mic.
*4 out of 5*


7. "Last Man Standing"
Produced By Parrish Smith
Co-Produced By Erick Sermon

Even after the aforementioned breakup, getting back together was a true testament to Erick and Parrish as men and artists.
*4 out of 5*


8. "Get Wit This"
Produced By Erick Sermon

The more I listened to this, I kept getting the feeling this was sort of a nod to "It's Going Down", also from "Business Never Personal" and the "Juice" soundtrack. I also like how they give props to Rakim and acknowledge their hiatus, if you will, as a duo ("It's been a long time, we shouldn't have left you."). Good song.
*4 out of 5*


9. "Do It Again"
Produced By Erick Sermon

Erick still to this day doesn't get the credit he deserves for being one of the first producers in hip hop to effectively sample the sounds of Roger Troutman and Zapp. They definitely could've made a song like this at any point, circa 1988-1992, featuring a cool sample of Tom Browne's "Funkin' Fo Jamaica".
*3 out of 5*


10. "Apollo Interlude"


11. "You Gots 2 Chill '97"
Produced By Erick Sermon

It's obvious that this remake of their classic from '88 does not hold a candle to the original, but it's still dope.
*4 out of 5*


12. "Put On"
Produced By DJ Scratch

Decent song here, nothing more, featuring the then signature production of DJ Scratch.
*3 out of 5*


13. "K.I.M"
Featuring Redman and Keith Murray
Produced By Erick Sermon

We got the merging, if you will, of the Def and Hit squads, respectively, for another dope song. K.I.M, keep it moving indeed!
*4 out of 5*


14. "Dungeon Master"
Featuring Nocturnal
Produced By Parrish Smith
Co-Produced By Angel "8 Off" Aguilar

This was more or less a showcase for Nocturnal, one of the former proteges of Parrish. He did a couple of freestyles in '96, but after this he basically was never heard from again.
*3 out of 5*


15. "Jane 5"
Produced By Parrish Smith

If you ask me, this was a rather anti-climatic ending to the "Jane" series, as Parrish was seemingly in a hurry to bring this to a close, lol. (This series would continue on their next album, 1999's "Out Of Business").
*3 out of 5*


16. "Never Seen Before (Remix)"
Produced By Erick Sermon

This remix, featuring a NICELY worked Slave sample courtesy of the classic "Watching You", was just as good as the original if not better.
*4 out of 5*




This was another nice revisit. I remember being hyped for this album back in '97, even though I didn't end copping it until February of '98, lol. As far as comeback albums go, this was pretty good and definitely the most fast paced album in their discography. Erick and Parrish reuniting was a good thing in hip hop and it came at the right time, although it can be argued that it happened a year too late. Either way, both men had not yet peaked and they still had a lot to contribute to hip hop, and they did that with this album. My initial rating has always been 3.5 stars, but I'm bumping it up to 4 stars. Thank you Erick and Parrish.

No comments:

Post a Comment