The first few days after we got home from the hospital was just a blur of Motown, Latin Jazz, and the Beatles. Just whatever records were already pulled off the shelves and sitting by the turntable. Nothing really deliberate, just what was within easy reach. Too many guests, not enough sleep.
I put on Strictly Business just to reminisce with my brother about what a classic album it is. I’d been thinking about EPMD a lot lately, after having recently discovered that their 1997 comeback album Back In Business is actually pretty amazing, despite my (admittedly hypocritical) doubts about the value of reunion records. I thought it might be a good place to start in terms of introducing my daughter to hip hop, less obvious than Low End Theory or By All Means Necessary, but in every way a classic of the genre, heavy with the funk and rock breaks that came to define this music in the late 80’s and early 90’s. EPMD weren’t the greatest MC’s in New York, but the use of samples on this album is way ahead of its time. In fact, this album contains samples that would make both Jay-Z and Nas famous in the next decade. I watched our daughter’s face carefully after I put this on, not knowing how an infant would respond. As much as I dislike most children’s music and felt pretty steadfast in our resolve to expose her to the music that we love, I was also afraid that the more aggressive stuff in our collection might irritate her. I at first mistook her response as giving me the stink-eye. But then I realized that she just hasn’t figured out how to open both eyes at the same time yet.
My little brother, who in 1988 schooled his know-it-all elder sibling on Boogie Down Productions and Feminism (while I was narrowly preoccupied with Agnostic Front, Dag Nasty and beer), is definitely responsible for opening my eyes to some of the ideas and aesthetics that led to a broadened understanding of the possibilities of punk and hardcore, and as such is at least partially responsible the quality and diversity of my record collection, and my own tenure as a “musician”. Hats off to him.
Hot Track: “You Gots to Chill”
Words to Live By: “I’m so swift and that’s an actual fact, I’m like Zorro, I mark an ‘E’ on your back.” – Erick Sermon/EPMD