12:40am, Venue 222
The list of touring rappers with 20 years under their belts is short.
"It's different preparation now, man," laments Parrish Smith, one-half of legendary New York boom-bap duo EPMD. "In the Nineties, you got asked to go on tour by booking agents and other groups, and then you just rocked the shows by your perception of what you thought hip-hop was about. It's much more involved now than it used to be."
As EPMD, Smith and Erick "Sermon" Onassis first blended Rakim's lyrical dexterity with Run-DMC's penchant for good vibes to restructure East Coast hip-hop on 1988's Strictly Business. Flowing slowly over funky beats sampled from Sermon's massive disco record collection, the album helped usher in a golden age of New York hip-hop.
Just four years later, the two split over bad blood – Smith's house was robbed, and Onassis was named as a conspirator during the investigation. They tried two albums late in the 1990s – 1997's Back in Business and 1999's Out of Business – but both played closer to Method Man and Redman's Blackout! than Boogie Down Productions' Criminal Minded. Reunited again, Parrish promises a classic return of the boom bap, a spin on the disco funk he listened to growing up.
"We still have the same approach to making real dope music," he says. "And now I have a greater understanding of where that music comes from. Most of the music I sampled in the Eighties was recorded in the Seventies, but it didn't seem that way to me because we were just used to hearing those songs on the radio. They were around."