Business As Usual

Business As Usual

The third album from EPMD, 1990’s Business As Usual, was another dependable dose of hardcore funk-bombs and deliberate, slow-mo rap swagger from Erick Sermon and Parrish “PMD” Smith. Released after the Long Island duo signed to hip-hop monolith Def Jam Records, the album would be EPMD’s third consecutive effort to sell more than 500,000 copies—as well as its third to top Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, a first for any rap artist. The album’s lead single, “Gold Digger,” was an instant smash, thanks to its rubbery groove and cynical lyrics. Its follow-up, “Rampage,” was a hip-hop showcase co-starring new labelmate LL Cool J, who at the time was attempting to reboot himself as a more harder-edged figure (Sermon says Parrish and LL were secretly battling each other on the track). Though no “Rampage” winner was crowned, Smith’s verse made it into The Source’s esteemed Hip-Hop Quotable section. Sermon’s verse was eventually repurposed as Redman’s “Watch Yo Nuggets,” and the song gave longtime EPMD collaborator DJ Scratch one of the most bonkers turntable solos of the era. The rest of Business As Usual—including tracks like “I’m Mad,” “Manslaughter,” and “Underground”—mostly finds Sermon and Smith doing what they do best: slaughtering MCs and reporting on it in great detail. “Give the People” is an attack on the media’s hip-hop biases, while “Mr. Bozack” is a safe-sex wake-up call, one that finds Smith getting into an argument with his privates. And the tracks “Hardcore” and “Brothers on My Jock” mark the recording debut of the group’s newest charge, the wildly gifted New Jersey showboater Redman. Business As Usual would have historical impact well beyond its record-breaking chart accomplishments and landmark guest MC introductions. “Underground” would provide the chorus to Das EFX’s 1992 smash “They Want EFX,” while “Funky Piano” gave DJ Scratch his first production credit (he’d go on to steer the works of 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, DMX, and more). The first EPMD record of the 1990s, Business As Usual was yet another victory for one of the most consistent hip-hops crews of all time.

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