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EPMD ‘Mean Business’ on New Album

Due in stores Dec. 9, ‘We Mean Business’ is a “special” album for EPMD‘s Erick Sermon and Parish Smith. “Erick and I, we had to do the distribution, the label, the promotion, the artwork, every aspect of the industry — we did it,” Smith said during an interview with the BoomBox.

“We had to stay focused because we knew what EPMD meant to us. We knew what it meant to the industry. When we got back (from hiatus) there was no industry, like, retail was closing. The industry was giving out 360 deals which was basically, ‘Give away your publishing, your marketing and hope for the best.’ We formed our own label, EP records. We got distribution from Fontana/Universal, and things began to fall in place.”

Besides EPMD, ‘We Mean Business’ represents some of the best rappers in the game. “We have Raekwon from Wu Tang, who’s a good solo artist and he’s great with Wu Tang. Redman, Reggie Noble, that’s a given. Method Man‘s on the album. KRS-One, the teacher, naturally. So when EPMD did a song with KRS-One, we kind of started putting the bridge back together for hip-hop and started opening up the communication. Then the big one is Teddy Riley because of the talk box and vocoder.”

EPMD found there was a place for it again after playing a show in October 2006 at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, its first New York show in eight years.

“It was sold out with a line around the block,” Smith said enthusiastically. “We were like, ‘Who are all these people here for?’ We thought it was for a play or something. From that point on in, we were, ‘Hey.’ Then we went on the Rock the Bells tour then that’s when we met Rage Against the Machine and we started getting back up with Nas and everybody.”

The show was just as fervent as the energy of the people in line to see EPMD. “When we started the show, the mics wasn’t on but the crowd was singing the first verse of the first song very loud,” Smith said. “From that point on in, we knew what we had to do and feel our way through.”

Smith said the duo felt it was an a propos time to get back together because of everything that was going on in the industry. “It went from, when we first started in the ‘Golden Era,’ just trying to be a really good MC or artist, to a real big money thing,” Smith explained. “(With) the passing of Tupac, the passing of Biggie, the passing of Jam Master Jay, Erick and I felt that so many people sampled our music, it’s time for us to return — but like us.

“Now that it’s done it’s kind of interesting. People are happy. It’s like if you had a choice to do something in life, do what you’re going to do from your heart, not what a whole bunch of people tell you. At the end, you’re going to be responsible for it.”

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