Monday, August 15, 2016

The Erick Sermon Project: A Green Eyed Experience





The Green Eyed Bandit, E-Double, Mr. Erick Sermon, one half of the legendary duo (or trio if you want to include DJ Scratch) EPMD, has been putting in mad work for almost 30 years and for that he gets tons of deserved credit from me. Speaking of EPMD, most of you reading this are familiar with their body of work, which consists of a respectable string of classic singles and largely VERY good albums (the first five going Gold, in a row, four of which are looked at as classics). In addition to rocking the mic, Erick is mostly known for his underrated talent behind the boards and all of this will be highlighted during this project, which will be my first covering an artist/producer. As I was listening to his latest album, "E.S.P. (Erick Sermon's Perception)", it was clear to me that he still has it on the lyrical and production end, which immediately gave me the idea for this project (I also tweeted him and told him I hope this album wasn't his last because he still has it, he replied by saying "thanks for the love"). During this "experience", I'll be focusing on his six solo albums, starting with his 1993 solo debut, "No Pressure", all the way up to the 2015 "ESP" album (the "Insomnia" and "Erick Onasis" albums, respectively, will not be included). So, without further delay, I present to you THE Erick Sermon project, "A Green Eyed Experience!"




ALL PRODUCTION IS HANDLED BY ERICK SERMON, EXCEPT WHERE NOTED


"NO PRESSURE"
Release date: October 19, 1993

(This album would drop several months after the breakup of EPMD, which will be covered a bit more in a future revisit.)


Featured Guests
Joe Synystr
Keith Murray
Debra Killings
Derrick Culbreath
Shadz of Lingo
Ice Cube
Kam
Redman
Michael J. Morgan "Soup"


1. "Intro"
Efforts to get Erick to interview are rather unsuccessful as we start "No Pressure."


2. "Payback II"

".....I return burnin rubber/The Black African brother, low-key, so call me undercover" -Erick


This would be somewhat of a reprise of "The Big Payback" from EPMD's "Unfinished Business" album. It's good, even though it comes off as a showcase for guest Joe Synystr, complete with flows straight out of '93.
*3.5 out of 5*




3. "Stay Real"

Looking back, I believe '93 was the start of rap artists recommending us all to either "stay real" or "keep it real", and Erick makes his dope, Roger Troutman sampled case here ("Dance Floor"). Check out the Soul Train throwback below.
*5 out of 5*




4. "Imma Gitz Mine"

You know, it probably was here when Erick started his constant name dropping of artists, lol. I don't think many people recognized that about him, and whereas someone like The Game name dropped a lot (either out of respect or otherwise, depending on your view), Erick's form still made it sound dope to a point where it had you wondering which artist he was going to incorporate into his verses next, lol. Other than that, this was a decent, apply titled song.
*3.5 out of 5*




5. "Hostile"

"For your protection, go sit in the R&B section, for this session!" -Erick

"Damage to your medula, cerebrum and cerebellum/If you got a crew you betta tell 'em!" -Keith Murray


Man, when I first saw this video, I remember really enjoying it. Erick comes with a dope opening verse, but the debuting Keith Murray kills this one (as well as stealing the show) with such an ill verse, which may be his best verse ever. Classic right here with a note to aspiring artists: Keith's verse is one of many blueprints as to how to make a GOOD, tight first impression on your debut.
*5 out of 5*




6. "Do It Up"

Erick comes through with a somewhat of a West Coast styled track based on the production. Decent.
*3 out of 5*


7. "Safe Sex"

This was the "B-side" of the "Stay Real" single, complete with samples courtesy of Roger Troutman's "Dance Floor" (again) and James Brown's "The Payback." Erick comes with two perspectives here: you can still enjoy yourself and have fun while practicing safe sex at the same time, and on the flipside, being aware of the consequences if you fail to practice it. Songs talking about AIDS awareness also began to take shape in '93 (if not a little bit before) and quite frankly we don't get songs like this these days. Also, I'm deducting .5 for whoever made the decision to censor this song.
*4.5 out of 5*




8. "Hittin' Switches"




This banger also appeared on the "Who's The Man" soundtrack, also released in '93. At this point, we weren't accustomed to seeing an aggressive side of Erick, but that's on full display here, especially on the lyrical level. I've always liked this one, and yes it does sound good in the ride.
*5 out of 5*




9. "Intro"
One question is asked by a "reporter", but never answered, lol.


10. "Erick Sermon"

""Shhh, quiet, your rap style's tired/The stores can't sell it, the fans won't buy it/Hell no, even if it was sold at an auction/Boy get rid of it, like an abortion"


In a lyrically aggressive form, Erick was feeling himself here, ensuring a dope song in the process. (There was no YouTube link to this unfortunately.)
*4 out of 5*


11. "The Hype"

With the obvious hype surrounding Erick, it was only a matter of time before said hype would attract the ladies right, lol? Erick tells the story of meeting up with a lady at the club, leading to a somewhat of a satisfactory conclusion, for him, lol.
*3 out of 5*


12. "Lil Crazy"

This was decent, more of a showcase for Kolorado and Lingo M. from Shadz of Lingo. Erick, on the other hand, sounded either tired or uninspired here, especially during the hook.
*3 out of 5*


13. "The Ill Shit"

 Erick again brings out an aggressive side here, but when you're on a song with the likes of Ice Cube and to a lesser extent Kam, you got no choice but to do just that. This collaboration, in terms of only Erick and Cube, may have come in a little too late at this point (imagine something like this taking place between '88 and '92), but what we got was good.
*4 out of 5*




14. "Swing It Over Here"

The 3 man crew that would come to be known as the Def Squad takes shape here. Keith Murray's verse wasn't as hard as "Hostile", but it was decent and the same can be said about Erick's verse, but man, the ever reliable Redman just blazes this one with his dope closing verse.
*4 out of 5*




15. "Interview"
Lol, Erick answers a series of questions, finally (lol), mostly about his current and upcoming work with other artists, among other things. (The instrumental to Mary J. Blige's "What's The 411" plays in the background.)


16. "All In The Mind"
Co-Produced by Collin Wolfe

This seemed like more of an audio vehicle for the Michael J. Morgan aka "Soup", and for a song that gave the impression it was going to be something hardcore, this misses the mark, plus Erick doesn't even sound like he's too thrilled to be on this track for some reason.
*2.5 out of 5*


17. "Female Species"
Produced by Brent Turner, Co-Produced by Erick Sermon

This was more or less the sequel to "The Hype", even down to the tone, delivery and storyline. Not a bad song, but rather an anti-climatic way to close the album and the song ends abruptly on top of it.
*3 out of 5*



For a debut, this was largely good, even though the sense of cohesion goes up and down. "Hittin' Switches", "Hostile", "Stay Real" and "Safe Sex" all received a respectable of time on radio and TV, and going forward, Erick would proceed to step things up behind the boards and on the mic. The 3.5 star "No Pressure" would peak at #16 on the "Billboard 200" chart and hit #2 on the "R&B Albums" chart.




"DOUBLE OR NOTHING"
Release date: November 7, 1995


FEATURED GUESTS
Crystal Gamble
Redman
Roslyn Noble
Keith Murray
Aaron Hall
Passion
Jazze Pha


1. "Intro (Skit)"
Erick must've loved interviews, lol, because we certainly get a brief clip of one before we head into the album's official opener.


2. "Bomdigi"

Remember when "bomdigi" was another saying for something that was dope, especially when it came to hip hop music? I certainly do and "dope" is one way to describe this one, complete with an equally dope beat. decent lines from Erick, a nod to Busy Bee during the hook in a nice touch and Ms. Crystal Gamble sounding so fly in the background.
*5 out of 5*




3. "Freak Out"
Produced by Rod "KP" Kirkpatrick, Co-Produced by Redman

Speaking of dope, that same word is applicable to this Redman assisted banger. Erick and Red bring a tag team flavor to this one, almost in an EPMD format, until Red decides to go in to close things (seemed like he stopped before he completely ripped it, lol, but it's all good). TIGHT stuff here.
*5 out of 5*




4. "In The Heat"
Co-Produced by Sugarless

"In the heat of the moment, things get hot", that's what the hook says. Erick goes the aggressive route with somewhat of a story being told.
*4 out of 5*


5. "Tell 'Em"
Co-Produced by Rod "KP" Kirkpatrick

This was the "B-side" to the "Bomdigi" single. I bet most reading this don't remember that Redman had a sister (Ms. Roslyn) who was almost as dope as he was, and man does she do her thing here along with Erick and Keith. This almost feels like a reprise of "Hostile" (this time introducing Roslyn, even in the middle of the song) and even though it clocks in at a fast paced 2:35, I'm going the full monty on this one. It's that good.
*5 out of 5*




6. "In The Studio (Skit)"
A woman by the name of Kim drops by and kicks a freestyle, and whether she was "just messing around" or not, it was good for the amount of time she was rocking the mic, plus she was backed by a tight beat.


7. "Boy Meets World"
Produced by Rockwilder, Co-Produced by Erick

I felt you on this one Erick, yes indeed. The production here is quite laid back and Erick complements it so well.
*4 out of 5*




8. "Welcome"
Produced by Rockwilder, Co-Produced by Erick

"It's on like that, and everybody's welcome"


Aaron Hall, formerly of R&B group Guy, was doing his thing on the solo tip at this point, and he shows up for the hook (along with Keith). This was almost as mellow as "Boy Meets World", mainly for the radio and the clubs at the time.
*4 out of 5*




9. "Live in the Backyard (Skit)"
We take a bit of a break for a few laughs, lol.


10. "Set It Off"

This was decent, nothing more, and it probably would've been a bit better had Keith Murray laced it with a verse, even if Erick already dropped three verses.
*3.5 out of 5*


11. "Focus"

"When you see me at a show, don't bother grabbin' this microphone/I'm terror fabulous with Action holmes"


Erick goes in here, calling out those who wanted to test him on the mic, "fly by night" artists who thought "a hit record made you a star in a year" and the kat would apparently robbed him a few years prior to this. Erick still remains standing.
*4 out of 5*




12. "Move On"
Co-Produced by Sugarless

"Don't get it twisted, and if you do, you best to move on, move on"


That hook above accurately defines this dope story. Redman begins with such a tight verse, followed by a good verse from Erick, in which he throws somewhat of a not so subtle shot at PMD toward the end ("I let one nigga slide in '93/But this year, he's fuckin history") and Passion closes it with a nice verse of her own (Erick certainly laced this album with some quality femcee talent).
*5 out of 5*




13. "Smooth Thought (Skit)"
With all due respect, this skit sounded like something that would've graced any West Coast album at the time.


14. "Do Your Thing"
Produced by Reggie Noble (aka Redman), Co-Produced by Erick

This was the "B-side" to the "Welcome" single. Production wise, this was a precursor to Red's "Funkorama", which was released in '96, plus it was a much better song than this. Don't get me wrong, this song is decent, but that's about it.
*3 out of 5*


15. "Man Above"

Wow, did Erick Sermon actually discover Jazze Pha? That seems to be the case here because I don't recall ever hearing about Pha prior to '95. Either way, he was tolerable during the hook, I'll say that, lol. It seemed like this following the same formula found on "Do Your Thing."
*3 out of 5*


16. "The Message (Skit)"
Tone Capone comes through with a message for us all. In other words, "keep it real."


17. "Open Fire"

As far as dope verses go, Red was 3 for 3 and Keith was 2 for 2 on this album. This pretty good closer made it clear that there was a noticeable chemistry between these three men (in '98 they would release the "El Nino" album, which will be the subject of a future revisit).
*4 out of 5*



Admittedly, I hadn't bumped this one in its entirely in quite some time prior to this project and it's better than I remembered, and dare I say, I'll put this over "No Pressure", but not in a blowout. Erick still brought the dope goods on the mic and behind the boards, along with tight verses from Redman and Keith Murray, and I can't forget about the contributions from femcees Passion and Roslyn Noble (had they came with more material in '96, that probably would've been the best year for the female MC since '88 or '89). As far as the charts go, "Double Or Nothing" peaked at #35 on the "Billboard 200", while hitting #6 on the " Top R&B Albums" chart, however, even though "Bomdigi" and "Welcome" made slight noise in '95, Erick's sophomore album was overlooked at the time, and you can attribute that to a STACKED year that was 1995, my favorite year in hip hop history as you all know. Overall, 4 stars for "Double Or Nothing."

Erick would return to the scene for his proper 3rd solo album in the form of 2001's "Music."


Oh yeah oh yeah, before we head to 2001, allow me to post this ILL freestyle from Erick courtesy of Funkmaster Flex's Mix Tape Volume 1 (also from '95), definitely Erick's greatest freestyle.




And check this one out from the "Don't Be A Menace" soundtrack in '96.




And this one from the "Nutty Professor" soundtrack, also from '96,





"MUSIC"
Release date: October 30, 2001


Featured Guests
Khari
Daytona
Marvin Gaye
Keith Murray
Sy Scott
Olivia
LL Cool J
Scarface
Cadillac Tah
Redman


1. "Rapture"
"If you ain't ready, then get ready", says Erick.


2. "It's Nuttin"
Produced by Rockwilder

I think it's safe to say from this point on, Erick and his (dope) name dropping will be a focal point of his rhymes almost as much as his production that's for sure. This was decent, almost serving as a way to showcase Khari and Daytona, plus Rockwilder's beat sounded like something right out of Erick's own playbook.
*3.5 out of 5*


3. "Come Thru"
Additional Vocals by Cha Cha

Cha Cha, who really had somewhat of a cup of coffee in hip hop dating back to '99 (with her one and only album, "Dear Diary"), "comes thru" on the hook with Erick over a fly sample of Curtis Mayfield's classic "Freddie's Dead (Theme From Superfly)."
*4 out of 5*


4. "Music"



Oh man, THIS classic, which also appeared on the "What's The Worst That Can Happen" soundtrack if you can believe that. I guarantee you that most people would probably associate Erick with this one song moreso than anything he's ever done, and that includes his EPMD work. And with that said, it may be hard to argue that point, because history has shown that this is by far his most popular, successful single to date (hitting #2 on the Billboard "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles" chart and #4 on the "Hot Rap Singles" chart, respectively). I remember as my junior year in high school was coming to an end, this song started to blaze radio and TV, plus my friend Brandon was CRAZY about it, lol, I mean he loved the Marvin Gaye portions. Speaking of the late Marvin Gaye, Erick got the idea to create this by listening to "Turn On Some Music" (or "I've Got Some Music"), mixing the acappella vocals in the process, and the rest is history as they say. I'm sure if Mr. Gaye was alive he not only would've appreciated this fine effort, he also would've made a memorable guest appearance. And in a nice touch towards the end of the song, Marvin is showcased as a way of paying homage in a fitting dedication to one of R&B's greatest voices. It also remains the only song from Erick that graces radio to this day. Again, such a classic song that will always stand the test of time, something that everyone can love.
*5 out of 5*




5. "Skit I"


6. "Now Whut's Up"

Even with Sy Scott along for the lyrical ride, this is just a slice of pure Def Squad dopeness, one I'm going the full monty on.
*5 out of 5*




7. "I'm That Nigga"

This was a decent, apply titled song, nothing you haven't heard before from Erick at this point.
*3 out of 5*


8. "Genius E Dub"

Backed by a respectable sample courtesy of Tom Tom Club's "Genius Of Love", Erick basically comes with a not so similar version of the previous song if you ask me. He also says he "pinned the game with a Marvin verse" and I agreed. And yes, the Olivia featured on the hook was the same first lady of G-Unit.
*3.5 out of 5*


9. "Skit II"
Lol, ain't no future in your frontin' man.


10. "Ain't No Future... 2001"

This was a dope tribute to the late MC Breed as Erick comes with a 2001 version of the classic "Ain't No Future in yo Frontin." And who can ever not recognize the "More Bounce to the Ounce" sample, thanks to the late Roger Troutman.
*4 out of 5*




11. "Do-Re-Mi"

I bet most either don't remember this one or are not even aware of its existence. Erick links up with two hip hop legends in LL Cool J and Scarface, and with their tenures in the game, one can argue that a collaboration like this was too little too late, but that's not the case here (definitely does not disappoint). Erick brings his usual, but hot damn, LL's verse does give Face's a run for its money. Dope song.
*5 out of 5*




12. "I'm Hot"

Ok, let's talk about this one a bit. After the success of "Music", I wasn't surprised that Erick decided to try to capitalize on it by releasing another song featuring Marvin Gaye vocals. It shows the continuous love for Mr. Gaye while acknowledging the "hotness" of Erick, on the mic and behind the boards. I do remember this one receiving a fair amount of radio play, certainly not on the level of "Music." I commend Erick on the attempts here, and while it's a very good song, it's not close to "Music."
*4 out of 5*




13. "Up Them Thangs"

If you're running with dough, nice cars, flashy jewelry and the like, you're coming up off it, lol. You got it, they want it. Def Squad and Murder Inc are represented to the fullest on this one (Cadillac Tah wasn't that bad here, but not good enough for anyone to ever anticipate a solo album from him).
*4 out of 5*




14. "The Sermon"

This is probably one of the more deeper songs you'll ever hear from Erick. Talking to God, Erick details his frustrations with the music business and the world itself, trust issues, thoughts of suicide, just to name a few. Now, I understand the sampled hook courtesy of R. Kelly's "What I Feel/Issues" and even though I'm not a fan of Kelly, sometimes I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt depending on the song, and this is not one of them when you consider his own issues (and you know what issues I'm referring to), so that right there deducts .5 from an otherwise "5 out of 5" song.
*4.5 out of 5*




15. "Skit III"
You know how Erick does with the interviews, lol. He notably talks about how he came up with the idea of making "Music" as I alluded to during the song itself.


16. "Music (Remix)"

Well, it's no surprise we got the "Def Squad" remix here and it's very good, still can't hold a candle to the original though. Only Red and Keith kick verses here.
*4 out of 5*





This was quite the excellent album from Erick, no question about that, clocking it at a solid 4.5 star rating based on what you read above. It's interesting to note that while the single "Music" was a huge success, the album itself only peaked at #33 on the "Billboard 200." Erick brought all the goods again, behind the boards and on the mic, and that would largely continue on the next album, "React."




"REACT"
Release date: November 12, 2002

Featured Guests
Free
Redman
Keith Murray
MC Lyte
Rah Digga
Sy Scott
Icarus
Red Cafe
Khari
Lyric

1. "Intro"
 It's showtime Erick!



2. "Here I Iz"

Almost one year after the release of "Music", Erick returns and let's you know from the jump he hasn't gone anywhere and the proverbial spot is still his.
*3.5 out of 5*




3. "We Don't Care"
Produced by Just Blaze

Formerly of the BET show "106 & Park", Free shows up (for the hook) on this fast paced, Just Blaze produced joint (he was certainly one of the hottest producers in hip hop at the time, along with Erick). Erick owns this one with his name dropping that's for sure, lol, mentioning Clipse's "Grindin", which was still new when this album hit the stores and the infamous incident at the Super Bowl in '02 between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. Good song.
*4 out of 5*






4. "Party Right"

"The funk Lord is here, the Rap George Clinton/The Barry Bonds of Hip Hop, I stay hittin"


I'd say Erick had to have been listening to Notorious BIG's "Friend Of Mine" as an inspiration for this song, because that's clear in each verse as well as the Kool & The Gang sample courtesy of "Spirit of the Boogie." This was much different from Biggie's song of course, as the only thing Erick saw that you did here was hit the dancefloor.
*3 out of 5*


5. "React"
Produced by Just Blaze




Let's talk about this one for a bit shall we. If "Music" held down radio and TV in '01, than "React" did the same in '02. I mean, this joint was all over radio at the time and no one could deny how catchy this was. Even though the song's hook sampled Sahir Ludhianvi's "Chandhi Ka Badan", I recall hearing about Erick saying he actually didn't know what Ms. Ludhianvi said and the line about "whatever she said then I'm that" was legit, and it was reported that the actual translation was "if someone wants to commit suicide, so what can you do?" I'm not sure if I agree with that, but it still remained such a catchy song. In addition to appearing on the "Honey" soundtrack, it was a success like that of "Music", Erick's second top 40 smash, hitting #36 on the "Billboard 100" and likely the last time anything from Erick would grace radio and TV. (I'm a little surprised there are no clips of the video on YouTube.)
*5 out of 5*




6. "Skit I"
Lol, funny skit. A couple of ladies wants to ride with Erick..... but they have no car or money, but wants (fried) chicken, lol. Erick verbally kicks them to the curb, lol.


7. "To Tha Girlz"
Produced by Megahertz

Truly one for the ladies (or girlz if you want to use that particular term, lol), but also one that the fellas would like too. Erick talks about the type of lady that attracts him in true E-Dub fashion over a nice Megahertz production.
*3.5 out of 5*


8. "Love Iz"

Whether it's having a family, the hip hop scene, patriotism, etc, it's all love as Erick details that very emotion powered by samples courtesy of Al Green's classic "Love & Happiness."
*4 out of 5*




9. "Go Wit Me"
Additional Production by Andre Ramseur

 An ok song, but it seems like it was all over the place. The hook would lead you to believe it's one for the ladies, but at the same time Erick is coming with somewhat of a sex driven story.
*3 out of 5*


10. "Skit II"


11. "Hold Up Dub"
Produced by Rick Rock

Although this one ends abruptly, it's about what you would expect when there's any form of Erick's name in the title, even with a good Keith Murray verse along the way.
*3 out of 5*


12. "Tell Me"

My top two favorite femcees of all time, MC Lyte and Rah Digga, join Erick on a very good song, clocking in at 3:03.
*4 out of 5*




13. "Skit III"


14. "S.O.D."
Produced by Kaos

This dope song may come off as a showcase for guests Icarus (Gilla House), Red Cafe (not really affiliated with a crew at this point) and Sy Scott (Def Squad), all of whom drop tight verses, but man Erick ends it on a rather tight note, almost as if the prior three verses had him equally amped. Dope stuff here.
*4 out of 5*




15. "Hip Hop Radio"

I get what Erick was going for here, in terms of talking about the pros and (mostly) cons of the music business, however, with all due respect, I've heard similar songs done more effectively than this one. Decent, nothing more.
*3 out of 5*


16. "Skit IV"
Khari freestyles to nothing but a "heartbeat."


17. "Don't Give Up"

This is an appropriately titled way to close the album and I'm sure you all reading this would know what the theme here is. Even though I feel Erick could've went a little more deeper here, it's still good for what it is.
*3.5 out of 5*





Even with the success of "React", I can't help but feel this was a slight step down from "Music." Don't get me wrong, Erick does his thing here as usual and even with a decent amount of good to great songs, it still felt like something was missing. In terms of solo work, Erick would step back a bit and return in two years with "Chilltown, New York." Will he rebound? We shall see. Overall, going with 3.5 stars for "React."




"CHILLTOWN, NEW YORK"
June 22, 2004


FEATURED GUESTS
Redman
Tre
Talib Kweli
Whip Montez
Sy Scott
Khari
Redman11/29
Dhalia Anderson
Keith Murray


1. "Home (Intro)"

Almost as if he knew he had something to prove heading into this album, Erick came with such ill lines over this West Coast styled production, I mean ill lines left and right, Again, I normally don't rate intros, but I'm making an exception here.
*4 out of 5*




2. "Wit EE's"

Erick flexes his creative muscles on this one, particularly during the first verse where he stretches out the "E" sounds at the end of each line. Granted, it's not the most groundbreaking thing in the world, but considering the type of hip hop we get these days, specifically in the mainstream, it's a breath of fresh air. It makes its points and doesn't overstay its welcome.
*4 out of 5*




3. "Relentless"

Oh man, I gotta break this one down. This is not only one of my top 5 favorite songs from Erick, but it probably ranks up there as one of the best things he's ever done lyrically. He addresses quite a few noteworthy items in this song.

"I'm in the game to play/For those cats on the sidelines callin me gay"

Erick has addressed this claim in interviews before and much like him, I don't know where the hell those accusations came from. Then again, who are we to judge when it comes to someone's preference in this situation. At the end of the day, what artists do in their personal lives is none of our business.


He of course talks about his longevity in the game, even sitting at the same (negotiating) table with the likes of Russell Simmons, Suge Knight, Jimmy Iovine, Clive Davis, etc,


"Some ask about EPMD's prognosis/But it won't happen til P get focused"

I didn't take this as a diss or anything close to it, the line simply speaks for itself. I'm not sure what Erick and Parrish's relationship was circa 2004, but it's a good thing that Erick's line here wasn't taken out of context, because the last thing these men needed was the industry breaking them up again. Four years later, they would somewhat quietly release "We Mean Business", which may be the last EPMD album, officially or not.


"I agree wit Missy, no creativity in the game no more/It's the same old bore"

Well, this REALLY applies to today's hip hop scene moreso than it did back in '04 that's for sure.


"If I'm over, explain how I do it/In 2001, I shut it down wit "Music"/If I'm wack, why in 2002/Yes it's true, I made cats "React"

Yes indeed, as mentioned in this very project, the aforementioned "Music" and "React" were successes for Erick, coming at a time when some fans and critics probably counted him out, with or without Parrish.


"Relentless" was the perfect title for this song, also backed by a sample courtesy of Iron Butterfly's "Real Fright", definitely my pick for the album's best song. It should've started the album in my opinion. You don't even have to ask what rating this song gets.
*5 out of 5*




4. "Jackin For Rhymes (Skit)"
It's funny to hear a rapper "jackin" others for their rhymes, lol. I swear the guy doing the "jackin" sounded like DJ Drama, lol.


5. "Street Hop"

Pretty good song right here, which would've been a good choice for a single, a dope balance with an equally dope beat and a nice hook with a well timed sample thanks to Nas' "Made You Look" and an uncredited female voice. Also, I'm deducting .5 for the inexplicable editing of this song.
*4.5 out of 5*




6. "Chillin"

Another good, apply titled song here, assisted by Talib Kweli and femcee Whip Montez, who sounded like a Dominican version of Charli Baltimore, but much better (I wonder what happened to her). I also can't forget about the continued well timed samples, in this case courtesy of Audio Two's classic "Top Billin." The 3:30 flew by quickly on this one.
*4 out of 5*




7. "Like Me"

Props to Erick and guests Sy Scott and Khari for their 2004 remake of Too $hort's "Rap Like Me." Speaking of Sy Scott, in this album's insert, there was promotion for what would've been his debut album as the newest member of the Def Squad, titled "Sy-chotic", but I don't think it ever saw the light of day.
*3.5 out of 5*


8. "Matrix (Skit)"


9. "God Sent"

Seems like this one ends right as you're getting into it, but it's still another good song. This is another one where Erick mostly talks about his tenure in hip hop, dating back to the mid 80s. One of many gifts sent to us from God? I think so.
*3.5 out of 5*


10. "I'm Not Him"

Why anyone would want to waste their time watching "Belly" is beyond me, lol. Sorry loyal reader, that comment was based on one of the last lines in Erick's third verse here, I simply cannot stand that movie, lol. The main theme here is you can't compare Erick to anyone else, especially when it comes to producers on the mic, and it results in a good song which probably features that same uncredited female vocalist from "Street Hop." (He also said he gave Marvin Gaye's widow $200,000 in a highly thoughtful gesture.)
*4 out of 5*




11. "MC One Bar (Skit)"
Lol, this skit took me back to my high school days. There would be a time when kids would freestyle during lunch time, and a friend named Darrell (one of many "class clowns" back then, lol), wouldn't even get a line in, lol, as he would simply say "yo, yo" over and over again while someone beats on the table, lol. Just when you thought he would drop a line, he stops for a minute and comes back with "yo, yo", continuously, lol, had us all laughing our asses off.


12. "Feel It"

While one would listen to this and assume that Sean Paul was a guest, his vocals here were actually from his single "Like Glue" (creative sampling though). I'm not sure why this one didn't take off a hit single, then again Erick did say "I don't care if I get one spin" at the end of the first verse, so that didn't help his cause too much this time around. With all that said, this is still a very good song which should've got more recognition than it did.
*4 out of 5*




13. "Future Thug"

While Erick brought his usual and I didn't care for 11/29's verse, it was Redman who saves this one from being a forgettable piece of work.
*3 out of 5*


14. "Do You Know"

Now, I have to ask, is Dhalia Anderson (on this song's hook) . the uncredited voice on "Street Hop" and "I'm Not Him?" If so, WHY wasn't she properly credited on those songs? Relatively small issue, but still. Erick once again talks about the highs and lows (mostly the latter) of the entertainment industry in general. Nothing we haven't heard before, but still good.
*4 out of 5*




15. "Listen"

Sy Scott shows up for his third appearance on this album alongside Erick and Keith Murray. Decent song, nothing more.
*3 out of 5*


16. "Hip-Hop (Skit)"
A few words from "hip hop."


17. "Can U Hear Me Now"

The title of this almost suggested an introspective side from Erick, but it turns out to be somewhat of an anti-climatic closer with a few lazy rhymes unfortunately.
*3 out of 5*



This was definitely a much better album than "React", no doubt about that. It came as no surprise that after almost 2 years away from hip hop, Erick returned with something to prove with "Chilltown, New York." It's a very good album, however, with no hit singles this side of "React" and "Music", the response to this album (or lack thereof) was underwhelming, hitting #61 on the "Billboard 200" and #16 on the "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums" charts, respectively, moving a total of 60,000 units as of June 2015. This, along with other factors would basically lead to Erick settling in more of a low-key role, if you will, as the years went by, resulting in the next (and last) part of the project, "E.S.P: Erick Sermon's Perception", his first solo album in 11 years.




"E.S.P. (ERICK SERMON'S PERCEPTION)"
Release date: September 25, 2015

Featured Guests
Too $hort
Sheek Louch
Joell Ortiz
Syleena Johnson
Masspike Miles
Voice
Jarren Benton
Method Man
Redman
Krayzie Bone
Ryize
Fred Da Godson
Keith Murray
Fish Grease
Faith Evans



1. "Lyrics"
A VERY quick 14 second intro from Jamie Foxx sends us on our way. I had to laugh at the "DJ Already Dead" line, lol.


2. "The Sermon"

First off, mad props to Erick for bringing back Dexter Wansel's "New Beginning" sample, which was also used for The LOX's classic "Money, Power & Respect." Throughout this "sermon", Erick all but hints that this could be his last hurrah, however, I'll have a bit more to say about that towards the end of this album (and the project overall). Very good start.
*4 out of 5*




3. "Daydreamer"

This Too $hort assisted song is good for what it is: at this point in their professional and personal lives, they can't afford to just rest of their laurels, so to speak, gotta be aware of any and everything that's going on these days. Oh, even though this is a good song, .5 for the auto-tune like hook from the uncredited male vocalist.
*3.5 out of 5*


4. "Make Room"

Def Squad, D-Block and Slaughterhouse are represented well and to the fullest on this appropriately titled banger. You know what to expect from Sheek and Joell when it comes to their guest appearances and even their lyrical aggression rubs off on Erick, who brings it "relentlessly." DOPE stuff here.
*5 out of 5*




5. "Serious"

With Ms. Syleena Johnson on the hook, Erick does get a little introspective on this one, talking mostly about his losses over the years (from a financial standpoint). There's probably quite a bit that has happened with Erick, more than the public knows.
*4 out of 5*




6. "One Shot"

Quite the excellent song right here, with Masspike Miles on the hook. Listening to this, you REALLY get the vibe that Erick is telling himself and the hip hop world that he has "one last shot" to make it all count..... before calling it a career.
*4 out of 5*




7. "Jokes"
Erick's sense of humor is on full display on this skit, lol.


8. "Angry"

Man, you can hear the anger in Erick's voice through both verses. It's an effective song that gets its points across very well, whether Erick is venting his frustrations on life in general, hip hop, the social order of the day, etc.
*4 out of 5*




9. "Jack Move"

A fast paced song here, clocking in at 2:23. This was somewhat of a showcase for Jarren Benton, who drops a pretty good verse of his own.
*4 out of 5*


10. "Clutch"

Man, if you thought "Make Room" was a banger, this is definitely another one on this album. Erick and Redman comes with tight verses, but the star of this Def Squad/Wu-Tang showcase is Meth, who steals the show with such an ILL verse. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*




11. "Still Getting It"

This Krayzie Bone and Ryzie assisted song is another appropriately titled one. "Still getting it" would certainly apply to Erick and Krayzie Bone at this stage in their careers. Speaking of Krayzie, the member of Bone Thugs N Harmony was not out of place here, such a welcomed addition.
*4 out of 5*




12. "Neva Take"

"You can neva take this from me." When it comes to your professional and personal lives, this should always be the case. You work too hard for everything you have and no one should be able to take this from you. Very good stuff from Erick, Keith Murray and Fred Da Godson.
*4 out of 5*




13. "Culture"

Don't let the name Fish Grease steer you the wrong way. The younger brother of Keith Murray, he drops a dope (first) verse here, on a song equipped with a "hip hop state of mind." (Whoever came with the third verse is not credited for some reason, but if Fish Grease switched up his voice, he did a damn good job at it.)
*4 out of 5*




14. "With You"

Ms. Faith Evans lends her familiar vocals to this fly song for the ladies. It's smooth enough to make the ladies smile & dance and dope enough to have the fellas bobbing their heads.
*4 out of 5*


15. "Impostors"
Lol, Jamie Foxx closes the album with some random yet funny jokes on his behalf.



Wow. Is it safe to say that this album, which may or may not be Erick's last, is his best album ever? I think so, especially based on my ratings. With two songs clocking in at a "5 out of 5", one "3.5 out of 5" and the rest hitting "4 out of 5", that signifies an excellent album and it surpasses "Music" quite a bit. If Erick is going out, he's doing it with supreme gusto. Speaking of which, after I bumped this album a couple of months ago, I thought to myself, "I hope he's not done after this because he clearly still has it." I tweeted him about this and he responded with, "thanks for the love." I had to mention this again ok, lol. This album was released very quietly in the latter part of 2015 and if you haven't checked this out, I strongly recommend that you do so, it's that good. 4.5 stars for "E.S.P."




And with that loyal reader, we have come to the conclusion of the Erick Sermon, "Green Eyed Experience" project. In addition to the work on his own solo albums as well as other artists, inside and outside of the Def Squad, and of course all of the EPMD work, Erick Sermon is one of the most underrated producers in hip hop history. His body of work speaks for itself and it's crazy that he hasn't received the recognition he deserved for his work behind the boards. This project also confirmed that he was the true lyrical muscle of EPMD, and that's no knock on Parrish, but when you compare to the two on the mic, Erick wins. As mentioned, 2015's "E.S.P." album is his best, but my personal favorite album from Erick is "Double Or Nothing." And speaking of EPMD, stay tuned for a revisit of "Business As Usual" and "Business Never Personal." In closing, if you're reading this Erick, I want to say thank you for all of your accomplishments in hip hop dating back to 1988 and the first EPMD album, "Strictly Business." You have made you mark in the world's best genre of music and for that I salute you!!!!!!

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