Artist: Erick Sermon
Label: J Records
Rating: 6 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Erick Sermon. E-Double. The Green-Eyed Bandit. Grand Funk Lord. One half of one of (if not THE) greatest duos in Hiphop, and a super-producer in his own right. You should know the history of this man by now. As the “E” in EPMD, Erick Sermon, along with his partner in rhyme, “PMD” Parrish Smith, was responsible for some of the greatest Hiphop tracks ever committed to wax. After a much publicised fallout with Parrish, E went for dolo, taking his funk-influenced style of production, and putting out 2 solo albums. He also introduced, and cultured, the emcees’ favourite emcee Redman, laced Keith Murray with some ill ass beats, and generally spread his weight on the Hiphop scene – everyone wanted a piece of E’s production skills.
Despite the fact that his proteges were successful, Erick’s two solo albums didn’t do particularly well. Couple this with the fact that Parrish had also made two solo joints that flopped, and critics were saying that each of them needed the other to succeed. So, in 1997, EPMD reformed, with the aptly titled “Back in Business”. Despite the hot lead single, ‘Da Joint’, this album didn’t really do well either. The fickleness of the fans showed, as the same ones who were praying for EPMD to get back together, were now blasting the duo for “reforming only for the money”. The tandem took a further knock to their reputation when the “Out Of Business” album was released – this was a double album containing a cd of new tracks, and a cd of greatest hits. Unfortunately the old tracks only served to show how poor the new ones were.
Sandwiched between those last two EPMD albums was an Erick-produced Def Squad album which had a few hot singles, (the remake of ‘Rappers’ Delight’, for one) but ultimately vanished quickly from view. It seemed to be no more than a last throw of the dice when E released another solo joint under the name Erick Onassis. Despite appearances from his Def Squad homies, and DJ Quik and Xzibit, this album also received little more than a lukewarm reception. Although Erick continued with production duties, on various Def Squad (and other) projects, it looked like E-Double had more or less hung up the mic.
In the summer of this year, Erick blasted back on the scene with ‘Music’, a joint sampling the talents of the late Marvin Gaye. Y’all know this by now – its been all over the radio. Now we have the album of the same name, and its time to see if Erick Sermon can still handle his “business”….
After a pointless skit intro, the first proper cut on the album is ‘Got Em Stuck’ – a bass-heavy plodder which features Sy Scott & Khari. This is actually pretty boring – none of the emcees seems to really want to “attack” the mic – this beat is just crying out for Redman to bless it.
‘Come Thru’ is a fairly obvious take off of Mayfield’s ‘Freddy’s Dead’ and features the “talents” of the Hiphop Barbie – Lil Kim. Another pretty blah track – the beat is ok, but it just doesn’t hold the interest.
‘Music’ – everyone probably knows this by now. An uptempo head nodder with the catchy Marvin chorus. A certified club banger, but don’t think that I didn’t notice that AGAIN Erick doesn’t really say anything of substance.
Y’all know how I feel about skits. It seems that Def Squad albums are the worst offenders in this characters in this category. Please fellas – cut this shit out – I’m sick of hitting skip.
‘Now What’s Up’ – now this is more like it. A beat that actually sparks interest, plus the fact that Keith Murray comes correct on it with his usual quickfire flow, “Here’s a bloody ambush, like a dirty douche, in your tush, when I push push up in your bush.” Straight ill. The presence of the rest of the Def Squad on here makes even Erick raise the bar a little with his verse. Unfortunately for everyone else, Funk Doctor Spock Reggie Noble comes thru next and steal the show…
“You feminine, don’t even call my name,
I stay locked down, walking with a ball and chain,
I’m the mack, where your tongue at? I done that,
These young cats will get thumbtacked, and sat where Big Pun’s at,
Smoke so much the doc asked where my lung at?
I took it out to stash my guns, son run that.”
‘I’m That Nigga’ – this beat for some reason makes me vision Snoop flowing on it. It sounds like some kinda of funky Scooby Doo-invesigates-haunted-mansion-type shit. Another average one.
‘Genius / E-Dub’ – Sometimes I wonder how Erick gets away with it… I mean Puffy gets ripped for jacking entire bars of shit and flowing on it, yet Erick is another who uses the most obvious samples, and he gets a pass. Is it because of his EPMD past, or what? If you can’t tell already, this track has me pissed off – due to the obvious Tom Tom Club sample here. Come on E, you gotta be more constructive dog.
‘Ain’t No Future In Your Frontin” – Damn I hate contradicting myself. Erick samples Zapp for the umpteenth time in his career, and still makes it sound dope. This is real nice. Very very west coast sounding. I likes…
‘Do Re Me’ – E-Dub, Scarface and LL on a track – a weird combination that strangely works. LL opens with one of the tightest verses I’ve heard from Mr Smith in a long time, which as already noted elsewhere, seems to inspire Erick to greater heights. The stage is then set for Mr Brad Jordan to close the deal and he doesn’t disappoint although his verse seems a tad shorter than the other two.
‘I’m Hot’ – The single thats currently blowing up. Another catchy Marvin hook. Basically ‘Music’ Part 2. Y’all must have heard this too by now.
‘The Sermon’ – This is the “introspective” cut. “I worked so hard to make this money – people wanna take it. Everyone hates me cos I’m successful.” A slow paced track which features R Kelly crying all over it. Wack.
‘Music Remix’ – To be honest, I’m getting sick of this track now. Yes its dope, but did it really need a “remix”? I always thought a remix was a totally new version of the original – ie new beats etc. This ain’t a remix – this is Erick and the Def Squad rhyming over the same beat.
‘Headbanger 2001’ – OK now I’m amped. This one features PMD, plus its a remake of a classic. Its not near the standard of the original, but its just so dope to hear EPMD ripping shit up again. It ALMOST makes me willing to suffer another PMD solo joint just to hear him drop verses again. (Since he very rarely does guest appearances.)
So there we are children. Verdict? Hmmm… kinda middle of the road. Its not a great album, but its not a bad album. It has some nice cuts on it, but its unfortunate that Erick only seems to bring the same funk samples to the table every time. The original records already bang, so its not surprising that he can still work some magic with them, but seriously I’d like to see his scope of work widen a little more – hell, stick with funk Erick, but just try something different from Zapp! This is really nothing more than funky background music – there’s nothing new here. But then, that’s why people love Erick Sermon.