EPMD-The Sample Business, Never Personal? Part 1

In celebration of the vets Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith's 20 years in the rap game this year, I was inspired by a post I saw over at Flood Watch Music

and I wanted to break down the samples used on my second favourite EPMD album, not only that I wanted to talk about how clever some of the sampling was on this album and how Erick Sermon has always had a penchant to sample the same records.

Does it matter?, no of course not and it's part of what makes EPMD work and continue to work, as they announced recently that YES a new album is on the way titled what else?...We Mean Business...say word.

Business Never Personal is EPMD's raw and timeless underground album, right from the get go,from the LP cover with E & P rocking dark hoodies (with the EPMD logo) over their faces in an underground subway.

1992 was a great year for EPMD, but also a damaging one and the albums title is incredibly ironic, because it was certainly personal when Erick allegedly paid some hoods to break into PMD's house, there were no charges filed and opinions differ on what year the break up happened, some say it was in late 1991 and others say it was 1992, it doesn't matter you all know what happened next... they broke up, released solo albums of varying quality, E formed the Def Squad with Redman and Kieth Murray and P had Das EFX, K-Solo and The Knucklehedz and continued on with the Hit Squad name and then thankfully they reformed in 1997 and have had 2 albums since and a greatest hits album as well and a Hit Squad album (Zero Tolerance, 2004) which was pretty hit and miss...now let's break this album down like a scientist does microbes. :D

side from the blistering and mind boggling cuts and scratches from the World Famous...DJ Scratch

(*pic taken by D-Nice)


It was the in your face chemistry from two vets announcing to the World that they had not gone anywhere and were ready for combat and to take over the rap game on the truly underground banger

1-Boon Dox


I still have not yet heard again such a dark, moody and eerie usage of the infamous

Commodores-Assembly Line


from their 1974 Machine Gun album

which in essence is an incredible track of true musicians at work, the build up to where the break kicks off in at 5:12 is just as important as the break to these ears.
also great is the perfect usage of the

Earth, Wind & Fire-I Can Feel It In My Bones (1971) vocals "ohhhhh yeaaahhhhhhh"-


from the

plus the classic great, late James Brown's (R.I.P)-The Payback (1973)

from his 1973 The Payback album


There is also a brief sample from Brand Nubian's-Slow Down (1990)


from the 1990 One For All LP

which sampled Edie Brickell's-What I Am 1988 pop hit to great effect


from the 1988 Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars LP

If any track of the album represented, gritty, hardcore underground funk, it was this joint and an incredible way to kick off the album.

I remember when I first got this album on cassette (small plastic things with reels of tape and two holes) and I was traveling back to Wellington from Auckland after I went and saw Public Enemy & Ice-T live.

The reason I got it on tape was because it was cheaper than the CD at the time and we only had a tape deck in the car, but from the moment we put it on, we were all going oh hell yeah...and rewinding verses and tracks...anyway I was just reminiscing about the album so I thought I would share.

2-Nobody's Safe Chump

The second track was simplistic in production but still made the head nod, the intro was funny, Joey I don't know a god damn Joey says Erick Sermon as he and Showtown walk up some stairs to check some dudes beats, and over the classic jazz drums of

Young Holt Trio's-Wah Wah Man


from the 1971 Born Again album

with a clever sample from the smooth Bobby Womack's-Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out


from the 1973 Facts of Life album

E Double lets us know "I'm serious boy but not Jermaine Jackson, I also have a 12th gauge shotgun for action" and PMD informs us "nobodys safe in the rap race, so keep your hoodies on and your boots laced"

We also get a run down of who is in The Hit Squad and a small usage from the timeless 1982 hit
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's
-The Message


from the 1982 The Message LP


I don't know what possessed E & P to sample Foreigner's- Street Thunder (1984)


from the 1984 I Want To Know What Love Is 12"

but damn it works, they slowed down the original to get an ill keyboard loop with a slowed down loop from



from the 1982 Zapp II LP

at the same tempo, and they used samples from their own classic You Gots To Chill record, DOC's voice (yeah hah hah) and the legendary Rakim's-My Melody (1986)


from the 1986 Eric B For President 12" and 1987 Paid In Full LP

Rakim vocal refrain "rough enough to break New York from Long Island" and the 'wah wah' sample from the infamous



from the 1981 ESG LP

4-Can't Hear Nothing But The Music

Now this is why I chose the title of this post, I don't think any other producer has used the infamous
Skull Snaps-It's A New Day


from the 1974 Skull Snaps LP

break as much as Erick Sermon has and I wonder if he did it to get back at Dooley-O, who is credited with finding the legendary break and being the first to use it on the classic

Stezo-It's My Turn


from the 1989 To The Max 12" and Crazy Noise LP

E also used them on "Hittin Switches, "The Ill Shit", "Stay Real" (remix) and for Das EFX's "Mic Checka" and "East Coast", (although those were produced by Solid Scheme, E was an executive producer on the Dead Serious LP)

The reason I say this is because Stezo was EPMD's ex dancer and had beef with E & P (over what I don't really know) and Dooley was Stezo's boy and produced his diss track "Piece of The Pie" in 1989 which only saw an official release in 2004 it's dope but the disses are fairly tame, but the funniest part is when Dooley says their 3rd album would be titled Out of Business, it was actually their 5th) and speaking of dope make sure you check Dooley's I Gotcha LP (2006) and the Basement Tapes both are really ill.

Piece of The Pie


from the 2004 Piece of The Pie 12" (Stones Throw)

Other samples used on Can' Hear Nothing But The Music included Barbara Mason's soulful voice "oohhhh baby" and strings from

Barbara Mason-Give Me Your Love


from the 1972 7" (written by Curtis Mayfield)

They also used a small sample from Curtis's original version


from the 1972 Superfly soundtrack

and the often used Schoolboy Crush from the Average White Band, there is some incredible compression on this track and everything just sounds timeless

Average White Band-Schoolboy Crush


from the 1975 Cut The Cake LP

and of course the infamous Kool and The Gang's-Jungle Boogie, of which they were no strangers to using

Kool and The Gang-Jungle Boogie


from the 1973 Wild & Peaceful LP

5-Headbanger ft Redman & K Solo

This stomping cut showed us what we could have got if the Hit Squad didn't break up Red, E & P and K Solo all deliver blistering performances and the energy on Headbanger is mad amazing it uses samples from
Parliament's loopy funk classic "One of Those Funky Things"

Parliament-One of Those Funky Things


from the 1978 Motor Booty Affair LP

Along with Erick Sermon cleverly stitching up two classic break beats together

Honey Drippers-Impeach The President


from the 1973 7"


Joe Tex-Papa Was Too


from the 1968 Live & Lively LP

There was also a Headbanger radio remix 12":


Well Alright that's part 1 done and I hope you enjoyed this post, it has taken some time but I enjoy it and part 2 will be up really soon.


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