Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
When Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith’s debut album arrived back in 1988, introducing themselves with a moniker decoded as “Erick and Parrish Making Dollars” may have seemed presumptuous. But the sheer quality of the ten songs contained therein made the acronym prescient, as Strictly Business proved the thrilling springboard to one of hip-hop’s more consistent discographies.
Incorporating a potpourri of familiar soul and rock samples, the album bumps harder and louder than most, as best evidenced by the Zapp-indebted “You Gots to Chill,” “You’re a Customer,” and the title track. Though their narratives wouldn’t have struck the listener as the deepest or most intricate, and they were seldom considered to be among the upper echelon of Golden Age rhymeslingers (i.e., Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Kool G. Rap), the tag team of Sermon & Smith more than held their own lyrically, which explains why they remain one of the most sampled hip-hop groups of all time.
“The reason why EPMD was so dope is because we battled each other,” Sermon explained to Complex in 2012. “It was friendly competition. Like, if Parrish says something dope, I want to say something iller. That's what made us so dangerous. The friendly competition, and going back and forth, made it so the rhymes were just crazy from both of us.”
Strictly Business was, is and will forever be strictly amazing.