100 Greatest Songs of the 1980’s #66 EPMD – Strictly Business

Released: 1988

EPMD – short for Errick and Parrish Making Dollars  – may have ridden the rap “Craze” as the denim-clad US music media still perceived it to the top of the R&B chart, but whilst many of their peers were still using tinny beats and even tinnier synths, Strictly Business managed to sound fresh and unique both by their choices and what wasn’t there.

The differences were obvious from the first moments; whilst rap had to this point largely favoured the rowdy, braggadocio MC’s who loved nothing more than crowd control, the duo were leaning back, pulling elements from far beyond the movement’s at this point limited feeds and making good on their promises of reaping the rewards.

The album’s title track showcases this assured, slippery and clever approach, Eric Clapton making possibly the unlikeliest guest appearance of his career, as the sometimes barely spoken flows carved EPMD a unique niche which it would take a decade or more to be fully re-evaluated. Nasty and nice, Strictly Business was a blank cheque waiting to be cashed.

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