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Music Review: EPMD – Strictly Business (Uncut Snoop Dogg Approved Edition/Remastered)

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Long before there was Kanye, Jay Z and Auto-tune, there was a period during the mid-eighties when hip-hop musicians were making some of the most creative sounding records you could find anywhere.

LPs like the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and De La Soul's Three Feet High And Rising not only featured deliciously dirty grooves and bass lines fatter than a Louisiana catfish, they also made old records new again through the use of sampling. Listening to these records, and picking out all of the obscure bits and pieces of music history woven into their mosaics of sound was like a music-geek's wet dream.

These days, you don't hear a lot about EPMD, but this wildly innovative rap duo was right up there with the best of them. Even today, their debut album Strictly Business is regarded as a hip-hop classic, and rightly so. Anchored by its rich, thick grooves and even fatter sounding beats, EPMD were crunk before there even was such a thing. As the homies might say, they shit was crackin'!

The thing is, EPMD (which stands for Erick and Parish Makin' Dollars) sound just as good now as they did back in the day. Reissued as part of Priority Records, "Snoop Dogg Approved" U.S.D.A. series, Strictly Business is now out in a remastered version.

Now, here's where it gets a little dicey, because to my ears at least, it doesn't sound like they've remastered or changed anything at all. Which is perfectly fine by me, because the deep, bottom-heavy production of the original album is one of the biggest reasons it remains such a classic today. Leave the tweaking to someone else, just don't funk with that bottom.

Joints like "Strictly Business" (and its clever use of "I Shot The Sheriff"), "I'm Housin'" and especially "You Gots To Chill" still rumble the speakers with big bass grooves thicker than a jar of day old molasses. The way "You Gots to Chill" cuts up the old school Roger And Zapp joint "More Bounce To The Ounce" still gets those butts a shakin' every damn time! So if there wasn't any tinkering done here, so be it. You can't improve on what is already perfection.

The Snoop Dogg connection is still somewhat curious to me though. Outside of lending his name (and "approval") to the project and scribbling a few liner notes, I really can't tell what role, if any, Snoop actually plays here.

But you know what? It's a minor point. The pleasure of giving my bass woofers the best workout they've had since my old school days as a rap DJ more than compensates, "Snoop Dogg approval" or not.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at The Rockologist, and at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Jordan Richardson

    Such a classic album, but it doesn’t sound like I need this “remastered edition” at all. Nice review, Glen.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Thanx Jordan. I’m also going to have a review on Eazy E’s “Eazy Duz It” (its part of the same series).

    Yeah, EPMD was some bad azzz shit, fo’ sure.

    -Glen

  • http://woodnotwood.blogspot.com A Geek Girl

    I’ll have to dust off my rump shaker for this one. If I can remember where I left it.
    It might need a little oil by now. heh

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Now there’s a girl after Sir Mix-A-Lot’s own heart…get yo’ ass to dustin’ girl.

    -Glen

  • zingzing

    i have to say that let the funk flow is a beat that can only be explained by calculus. damn thing rolls like nobody’s business. i think i once played that song six or seven times in a row and only quit when i just couldn’t take the funk no more.

    truly, this is a classic album. early massive attack must have been listening. that thick flow continues to impress. other than rakim, i’d have to say these guys are my favorite rappers, but for completely opposite reasons from rakim. 1988 is truly the greatest year ever.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Paid In Full is definitely another classic Zing. And yeah, for hip-hop 1988 is a pretty tough year to top. I think PE’s “Nation Of Millions” album came out that year too. It was literally like one masterpiece after another there for awhile…

    -Glen

  • zingzing

    ultramagnetic mc’s debut is also classic. their track “funky” runs on the same sample as dre’s “california love,” but the beat running underneath it is just unbeatable. eric b & rakim’s “follow the leader” is also a classic. as is the title track to “don’t sweat the technique.”

    just got up to “get off the bandwagon…” another track that massive attack definitely listened to, but this time for the production.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    There’s just so much great stuff from that period, most of which has become sadly forgotten. Main Source, Gang Starr, Chill Rob G, Poor Righteous Teachers…I mean the list just goes on and on.

    The whole sampling thing has become something of a lost art in hip-hop in these days of looping and Auto-Tune. Back then, every record was like this amazing tapestry of sound drawn from all these obscure sources. Half the fun was in trying to figure out just where it all came from.

    -Glen

  • zingzing

    yes, tis unfortunate. have you head avalanches’ “since i left you?” it’s made by 6 or 7 djs all going at once. thousands of samples. took over a year of legal tussling to get it released in the states. it’s a total classic of sampling, but avalanches haven’t put out another album since just because of how difficult it was to get it released. the laws are a little more relaxed overseas, but getting this stuff released in europe and america is increasingly difficult. (they’re from australia, and seem to have fewer issues over there.)

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Haven’t heard it Zing. Got an MP3 by chance?

    -Glen

  • zingzing

    here. don’t worry about their idea of copyright. enjoy. sample heaven.

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    thanx zing.

  • zingzing

    no problem. let me know what you think.

  • http://hypestyleshomebase.blogspot.com Hypestyle

    I’m glad that Priority is looking to uplift its catalog of hip-hop releases. However, in this case, there is a missed opportunity. There are no bonus tracks of hard-to-find material: 12-inch maxi-single versions of singles, b-side songs not found on the album, and any other unreleased material. Going at least a few years back, I saw where Warlock Records released a compilation of Sleeping Bag material– I believe they now own the Just-Ice recordings– and on this compilation it had a couple EPMD songs.. I know that Priority picked up the 1st two EPMD albums from Sleeping Bag/Fresh in the early 90’s, but I’m curious if the purchase included masters of the non-album material.. if not, it was a major goof on their part..

  • jason

    Epmd are the best full stop……….
    And still today are….
    That’s hip hop to me and none of the new stuff…
    I’m from england and I can safley say it was Epmd that made me first listen to hip hop..