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Twenty years ago, EPMD released their fourth studio Business Never Personal. Eventually it would go on to become their fourth consecutive album to go Gold, but that’s only part of the story. EPMD’s previous album Business As Usual was their first on Def Jam and it featured the first appearance of Redman on wax. By the summer of 1992, almost eight months into the Second Golden Era of Hip-Hop, EPMD had begun a Hip-Hop dynasty under the guise of the Hit Squad and Shuma Management.

Back in March 1992, EPMD’s protégé’s Das EFX emerged from the sewers with the hit single “They Want EFX.” It caught on rather quickly and spread like wildfire. Their unique rhyme style, look and the way they totally embraced being underground (which just six months previously was frowned upon by the mainstream) resonated with Rap fans. Slightly more than a month after “They Want EFX’” exploded, Das EFX’s debut, Dead Serious, dropped. The bars, production and their image caused the album to take off out of the gates. It shot to Gold and eventually went Platinum. Everyone in Hip-Hop began to bite Das EFX, from their “iggity” rhyme style down to their fashion sense. Eventually groups even adopted the aesthetic of their production and videos. Watch Lords Of The Underground’s “Psycho” video sometime then get back to me for proof.

Around the same time Das EFX’s album was blasting out of cars and Sony Walkmans everywhere, K-Solo released the lead single from his upcoming album Times Up. The song was produced by Sam Sneed and titled “I Can’t Hold It Back.”  The tune would eventually shoot to the top of the Rap charts and become K-Solo’s third big hit after “Spellbound” and “Your Mom’s In My Business.” Unfortunately, even with his chart success, K-Solo’s albums didn’t sell well. Tell The World My Name while regarded as a classic failed to move 100,000 units. Times Up dropped in June 1992 and while it was another excellent album it failed to do significantly better saleswise than his previous release.

While K-Solo’s “I Can’t Hold It Back” and Das EFX’s “Mic Checka” are all over the radio and being featured on blend tapes and mixtapes all over, EPMD dropped their new single “Crossover”. Business Never Personal’s lead single was a damning indictment against Pop Rap and it dissed any rappers or MCs that would sell their souls or water down their sound to attain sales success. It sampled Roger Troutman in the hook and it was so funky that it actually crossed over dominating the regular Rap charts and broke into Billboard’s Hot 100. It stalled after reaching the top 50 but the NBA was playing it in their commercials. The brothers from Brentwood, Long Island had cracked the mainstream.

EPMD’s Business Never Personal dropped on July 28th, 1992 and Hip Hop heads went bananas over it. The duo’s production was top notch while the album’s tone was hardcore but still accessible. All of the members of the burgeoning Hit Squad had appearances on the album. Das EFX appeared on “Cummin’ At Cha” and K-Solo and Redman appeared on the posse cut and eventual final single from the album, “Head Banger.” Now Das EFX, K-Solo and EPMD are dominating the charts and the radio. But wait, it gets worse!



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Photo: Various

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