EPMD – Strictly Business (Priority/EMI, 1988)
If you don’t like Strictly Business, you don’t like hip-hop. It’s that simple. Released in 1988 by EPMD (Erick and Parrish Making Dollars), Strictly Business is a straight classic, its legendary status forever preserved thanks to the 5 Mics it received from the Source. Created in an era before producers were constrained by the need to clear samples, the album’s sound is best described as a messy collage of classic funk loops (think Kool & The Gang, The J.B.’s, Zapp Band etc.) and up-tempo, recognizable breaks (Mountain’s “Long Red” is used at least twice). Among Strictly Business’ best tracks are “You Gots To Chill,” “It’s My Thing” and “I’m Housin’,” on which EPMD samples Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” to deadly effect. Check it out:
Aretha Franklin – Rock Steady (Young, Gifted and Black, 1971)
EPMD – I’m Housin’ (Strictly Business, 1988)
In addition to their irresistible beats (your head will be nodding the whole time), Erick and Parrish come correct on the mic as well. Delivering their rhymes with a monotonous flow that would make Guru jealous, the two mcs trade verses that, when first heard, were years ahead of their time and elevated EPMD to hip-hop greatness.