“The thing about EPMD music is that, when it comes, it comes. We might sit in the studio and make five songs in one day.”
EPMD Makes Music And Money
A lot of artists will claim that they make music to express their feelings, or to point out something of great social relevance. The eponymous duo of Erick and Parrish Making Dollars – EPMD for short – made no such claim. As their act name suggests, the two knew they were in the industry for the money and they weren’t ashamed of the fact.
Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith – born 1967 and 1968, respectively – grew up together in Long Island, New York. The two started with rap in 1986, when they began to perform as a duo. It wasn’t until 1987, though, while Smith was on break from Southern Connecticut State University, that the pair made their very first recording.
EPMD: Putting the Letters Together
Indie label Sleeping Bag Records picked up that 1987 recording and released it as a single in 12-inch format. You’re a Customer back to back with It’s My Thing quickly sold half a million copies, prompting the release of a full album with Sleeping Bag. Riding on that initial success, the pair’s debut – 1988’s Strictly Business – went gold within two months. Their 1989 follow-up, Unfinished Business, did similarly well as their debut.
Def Jam signed the duo at the start of the 1990’s, and released Business As Usual and Business Never Personal in 1990 and 1992. Around that time, they also formed a group akin to an extension act, Hit Squad, which featured a roster of new artists.
EPMD Hits the Mainstream
The two split for a while – allegedly due to intense financial disagreements – in 1993 and pursued their own individual careers. Sermon had even formed a new set of acts around him, which he named the Def Squad. By 1997, though, the pair had reunited for Back in Business as EPMD, but didn’t leave their independent careers behind; Sermon kept on with Def Squad while Smith went on to release two more albums by himself.
Sermon and Smith recorded one last album, 1999’s Out of Business, before going on hiatus and their respective paths once more. They were not seen performing together until a New York show in 2006 – their first duo performance in almost a decade. The two released two new singles before confirming that another album, We Mean Business, was in the works. It hit the store shelves in December 2008.
Did you know that...
- ...their rift in 1993 reached the point that one hired goons to break into the other’s home?
- ...both became Christians in 1999?
- ...Smith got into hip-hop first? Before there was EPMD, he was already doing DJ work for 1990’s rap act Tommy Boy.