Picks and Pans Review: Business Never Personal
When a group's first three albums sell 750,000 to 950,000 copies apiece, lame and fortune usually follow. The two guys in EPMD live up to their name—which stands for Erick and Parrish Making Dollars—but they lag in the fame dept. The reason, as their fourth album makes clear, is that these deliberately retro rappers care more about pleasing kids than critics.
Erick Sermon, 23, and Parrish Smith, 24, specialize in macho rhymes roared over a simple aggressive beat. Their fans are black and white teenage males, and EPMD never risks turning them off by tossing in a mushy R&B chorus that might attract their elders.
When every rapper is trying to take the form someplace new, EPMD turns back to old-fashioned nonpolitical boasting—rap's original strategy. "A California quake can't move me," goes one line. "Hard like a jail yard." goes another. EPMD doesn't incite or offer insight. Equating their rhyming prowess with the power of bullets and Agent Orange, the duo transplants violent imagery to a verbal battlefield where reputations, not lives, are at stake.
Despite the gritty raps, Sermon and Smith are clean-cut suburban Long Islanders. They write and produce their own music. Their album titles send a message about their priorities: Strictly Business, Unfinished Business, Business as Usual and now Business Never Personal.
On the new album Sermon and Smith compare themselves favorably to Bo Jackson, Joe Pesci, Michael Jackson, Nick Nolte, Patrick Swayze, Morgan Freeman and Bruce Springsteen, among others. To their fans, at least, they are in the same league. (RAL/Def Jam)