EPMD is an American hip hop group from Brentwood, New York. The group's name is a concatenation of the members' name "E" and "PMD" or an acronym for "Erick and Parrish Making Dollars" (later "Erick and Parrish Millennium Ducats"), referencing its members, emcees Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith ("PMD"). The group has been active for more than 20 years (1986present), and is one of the most prominent acts in East coast hip hop. Diamond J, DJ K La Boss, and DJ Scratch were DJs for the group.
The word "business" is used in every title of the group's albums. Every album also has a track titled "Jane".
EPMD's first album, Strictly Business, appeared in 1988, which featured the underground hit "Strictly Business," based on a sample of Eric Clapton's version of Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff." Many critics cite this first album as the group's most influential. The group's brand of funk-fueled sample-heavy hip-hop proved to be a major force in the genre. Unlike old school hip hop, which was originally based on disco hits but eventually became more electronic, EPMD based its music mainly on lifting funk and rock breaks for samples and helped to popularize their usage, along with Marley Marl and Public Enemy. "You're a Customer" combined snippets of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle," Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," and the bass line from ZZ Tops "Cheap Sunglasses." "Jane," about a romantic rendezvous turned bad, would be revisited on no less than five sequels; a first for hip-hop, and, perhaps, rock and roll as well. "You Gots to Chill" used 1980s funk band Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce," which has become one of the most enduring sample sources for hip-hop. "I'm Housin'" was covered some 12 years later by Rage Against the Machine. Managed early on by Russell Simmons' RUSH Management, the group toured with such hip-hop luminaries as Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Promotional EPMD t-shirt for their 1990 Business As Usual album
EPMD signed with Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records, which eventually released its debut album, Strictly Business, by electro funk pioneer Kurtis Mantronik. Propelled by several strong singles ("You Gots to Chill" and the albums title track), the album was eventually certified gold, selling over 500,000 copies, as did 1989's follow-up, Unfinished Business. Financial frustrations followed when Sleeping Bag went under in 1992. The two EPMD albums and Nice & Smooths debut album were acquired by Priority/EMI Records before the label was sold to Warlock Records. The duos Sleeping Bag contract was acquired by Def Jam. EPMD returned in 1990 with Business As Usual and Business Never Personal two years later. By 1992, the group presided over an extended family dubbed the Hit Squad, which included Redman, K-Solo, Das EFX, Hurricane G, and Knucklehedz.
In 1992, EPMD had a hit with its song "Crossover," which lamented rappers making blatant concessions to pop sensibilities in order to get mainstream attention from music audiences. Ironically, the song became a crossover hit itself peaking at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in doing so becoming their biggest hit to date.
The duo split in January 1993, under controversial circumstances. According to interviews in The Source and Rap Pages, in late 1991, Smith's house was burglarized by armed intruders. According to Smith, in the ensuing police investigation, one of the apprehended culprits supposedly gave up Sermon's name as having allegedly paid them to do it. Sermon was arrested and briefly detained for questioning, but no charges were filed. Still, it led to lingering tensions, and by the time of the break-up, Sermon alleged financial impropriety on Smith's part. The duo found itself as solo artists by default: Sermon debuted in 1993 with No Pressure, followed by Double or Nothing (1995), Def Squad Presents Erick Onasis (2000), Music (2001), and React (2002). Smith made his statements on 1994's Shade Business, followed by Business is Business in 1996.