"This is what it sounds like when you're puttin' work in'..."
Once upon a time, Parrish Smith and the Green-Eyed Bandit, Erick Sermon helped define one of hip-hop's classic eras as EPMD. Then Sermon went on to form a loose affiliation with Redman and Keith Murray (that would eventually become the Def Squad), and put down some nice dark P-Funk-inspired tracks on Redman's debut as well as my favorite of his albums, Dare Iz a Darkside (although most of the Darkside songs I like the best were produced by Redman). Even Double or Nothing and his compilation album, Insomnia, were pretty hot, the latter with solid joints by one-and-done groups like The Wixtons, Xross-Breed and LOD.
Right around 1999, however, it seemed as though the Green-Eyed Bandit had run out of ideas. My primary evidence of this is Redman's Doc's Da Name 2000, which features the SAME EXACT BASSLINE for no less than seven songs, including the first four in a row. (Luckily, that record is redeemed by the greatness of "D.O.G.S" and the Ice Cube remake "Jersey Yo!").
Since then, Sermon has dropped a couple decent singles ("React," "Music") and re-formed EPMD for the kind-of-okay Out of Business album.
I haven't heard any singles from him lately, so I'm not really surprised to see the RE-re-formation of EPMD for We Mean Business. You can hear the whole album on MySpace, and it's about on par with Out of Business, probably a little better. What I don't understand is the banner, which reads "EPMD FINALLY REUNITED!" when they put out their last record less than 10 years ago. I mean, what the hell has Parrish Smith been doing since then BESIDES probably trying to get Erick Sermon to do another EPMD record?
In fairness, We Mean Business isn't bad. A simple piano chop powers "Run It," "Back Stabba" uses some of the less-obvious snatches of the O'Jays' classic (some of the fluid guitar work, very laid-back, despite being uptempo) and, much to my amazement, 9th Wonder delivers a rough-and-tumble beat that's not mindlessly generic chipmunk soul on "Left for Dead." Also, Raekwon drops one of his best verses in a while on "Puttin' Work In."
The only problem is that, on the MySpace site, they threw on "Headbanger" at the end, and it's so much better than anything on We Mean Business.... oh well.