EPMD's Oustandingly Funky Album Strictly Business | Review
How Classic? 4 out of 6
Strictly Business - (June 7, 1988)
Erick and Parrish Making Dollars released their outstanding debut album, 'Strictly Business' in 1988 during the "golden age of hip-hop" and they made a mark for themselves as one the best groups in hip-hop with a string of classic albums during the late 80s and all throughout the 90s. Strictly Business is on many 'best of' lists today and was also a success upon release selling to platinum status within four months. Other than being a dope hip-hop group, they are notable for always including the word 'business' in their album titles. EPMD is also part of the Hit Squad which includes Redman, Keith Murray, and Das EFX. Erick Sermon will often provide production for Hit Squad artists.
Strictly Business is a sample-heavy album as many of the "golden age" records were and the title track is no exception and includes samples from the 'Jungle Boogie' by Kool & the Gang, 'Long Red' by Mountain, 'Auto Man' by Newcleus, and uses 'I Shot The Sheriff' by Eric Clapton as the main theme throughout the track. Erick Sermon is a master sampler/producer and he mixes long samples and makes the various melodies work well together. The Strictly Business album used well-known samples from artists such as Zapp, Eric Clapton, Otis Redding, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band, Michael Jackson, Kool & The Gang, and Rick James. Using so many samples and having them so recognizable was a double-edged sword because it easily tipped of the artists to their use. Erick Sermon said that they never cleared any samples for Strictly Business and that people would come after them when they knew EPMD had sampled them, for example, Eric Clapton wanted ten thousand dollars. Also, the samples that EPMD used were unusual for hip-hop, stemming from rock and funk, and they had a bass-line driven sound which made many people think they were a west coast group. Snoop Dogg has said that he was a huge EPMD fan because of their funk-based sound, which was compatible with Snoop's west coast sensibilities.
The third track 'Let The Funk Flow' samples '(It's Not the Express) It's the J.B.'s Monaurail' by The J.B.'s which is the same sample that Nas used on his 1999 track 'Nastradamus'. 'Let The Funk Flow' is a great track and has a laid-back vibe that is melodic and funky. While 'You Gots To Chill' is the highest charting single from the album and one of their most popular songs today. It samples 'More Bounce To Ounce' by Zapp among others and is a funky song. 'It's My Thing' samples many artists and is another funky track that actually charted in the UK at place 97 before the album was even released. 'You're A Customer' is a smooth track that samples Steve Miller Band's 'Fly Like An Eagle' on the chorus. It's very bass-line driven and is one of the better songs on the album. Next, on the album, the group decided to name a dance after actor Steve Martin and then do a song about it. After 'The Steve Martin' they launch into 'Get Off The Bandwagon' which references the Hardy Boys mystery book series and has an unusual beat that works despite being awkward at first listen.
Like most hip-hop albums during the mid to late 80s, they include a song dedicated to their DJ, and 'D.J. K La Boss' is a great DJ track featuring deft scratching and incorporates many early hip-hop classics from UTFO, Steady B, Fab 5 Freddy, Fat Boys, and The Cold Crush Brothers. The last track on the album is 'Jane' which is about a romantic rendezvous gone bad, and would be revisited on no less than five sequels; a first for hip-hop. The track is simple and features samples from Joe Tex's 'Papa Was Too' and Rick James' 'Mary Jane'. Overall this is a great debut record which doesn't feature any bad tracks and is solid all the way through, as well as adding the occasional hit single here and there, but the beats are not mindblowing which makes the album a solid listening experience.