EPMD Strictly Business

EPMD's 'Strictly Business' at 35

EPMD's 'Strictly Business' at 35

Published Wed, June 7, 2023 at 2:00 PM EDT

You're A Customer

In the summer of 1987, EPMD (spelled EPEE MD at the time) released their debut single, "You're A Customer"/"It's My Thing" on Fresh records. The group, with their signature monotone slow flow, immediately drew comparisons to their Long Island neighbor Rakim who debuted the year before. The comparisons to the God had no negative effects on the group's popularity or acceptance. "You're A Customer" with its thumping baseline and hard hitting drums was an immediate hit on Hip-Hop mix shows and the underground circuit in general.

Erick and Parrish effortlessly flowed on the mellow track with dope lines like, "It was a rap contest nothin' we couldn't handle/at a house they had the mic on the mantle/looked at the DJ and said may I?/lit it up like the 4th of July/'cus I float like a butterfly sting like a bee/nah, I'm the E of EPMD."

"It's My Thing" was a simple loop of "Seven Minutes of Funk" by Richmond, VA band, The Whole Darn Family, a foundational breakbeat that hadn't been utilized much if at all since 1979's "Superrappin'" by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5. The break, which would later be used to great success by Jay-Z and Foxy Brown on "Ain't No N***a" a decade later, allowed Erick and Parrish a great soundbed to flex with rhymes like, "Enough about that lets get on to somethin' better/and if it gets warm then take off that hot sweater/and if you want some water I'll get you a cup/but if you don't want it then burn the hell up."

You Got's To Chill

In April 1988, EPMD dropped "You Gots To Chill," the lead single and video from their upcoming debut album. With its loop of the funk classic "More Bounce To The Ounce" by Zapp and the cuts from their new DJ K La Boss (Diamond J was their DJ for their previous single) EPMD created a hit that was released just in time for the debut of Yo!MTV Raps, exposing them to a wider audience. The video for "You Got's To Chill" not only gave fans of the group a visual of what they looked like, but it introduced their dancer, the late Stezo, who later joined them as a recording artist on Fresh Records. "You Got's To Chill" was the perfect promotional tool for EPMD's full length project which would drop later that summer.

Strictly Business

Strictly Business belonged to a time when rap albums contained 10 songs or less, with previously released singles included so many times the listener only received seven new songs or less. Strictly Business was no exception, but the new songs were great, which cemented Erick and Parish as a force to reckon with. The album's title track, with its popular video, established the group's look with the trademark fisherman hats, and score them another hit single which they performed on Soul Train and other popular music programs.

"DJ K La Boss" was a tribute to the group's DJ which featured his production along with him cutting and scratching. "Jane" was the first installment in their popular series of songs that highlighted their adventures with a girl named Jane while "I'm Housin'," "Get Off The Bandwagon," "Let The Funk Flow" and "The Steve Martin" all rounded out one of 1988's best rap albums.

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