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 Bands Main
 Bands A-Z: UGK
 News Archive: UGK

 10. UGK

 9. Fugees

 8. Salt 'N Pepa

 7. EPMD

 6. A Tribe Called Quest

 5. Wu-Tang Clan

 4. Outkast

 3. Public Enemy

 2. N.W.A

 1. Run-DMC

  Back to Intro

  Honorable Mention

  The Brain Trust speaks

No group can be compared to the Wu-Tang Clan. RZA's production is incredible. I can't see how they wouldn't be #1.
                 — Eric, 24
                   Buffalo, NY

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  The Greatest Hip-Hop MCs Of All Time

  The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time

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Rank: 7

In their prime, EPMD were the standard-bearers for consistency. You could always count on Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith to deliver something funky, fresh and fly — and make it sell. The Long Island, New York, collective — who blatantly shunned crossing over — could give you music for the clubs or the car without sacrificing their signature, hard-core, street-corner sound. The poster children for Timbos, hoodies and fishermen hats, E had plenty of of punch lines and jokes on the mic, even breaking into song once in a while ("I am so amaaaayzing"), while Parrish was cut from the same stone-cold straight-man cloth as DMC. Who else could come up with lyrics like "While you banging on tables, I was b---ing Snow White"? Their DJ, Scratch, was in the tradition of Jam Master Jay (it was Jay who in fact urged EPMD to put Scratch in the fold), proving to be an indispensable third member, contributing to their production as well as a being a human highlight reel at their concerts (when he used to cut with the Jason Voorhees mask, it was something else!).

Besides their legendary musical achievements, Erick and Parrish went down in history for living up to their motto of making dollars and simultaneously helping to instill hip-hop's now-popular crew-love motif. It was profitable, too: By introducing and establishing Redman, K-Solo and Das EFX as their Hit Squad crew, they became the first rap act to break several different artists on several different labels all at once.

Sadly, EPMD broke up in their prime, but Erick went on to keep discovering popular artists (Keith Murray) while having a successful career as a solo rapper and producer (Redman, Method Man). Meanwhile, DJ Scratch continued to be a master of the live show, DJing on tours and producing for such supreme MCs as Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes. In 2006, EPMD and Scratch reunited for a world tour and will hit the road again this year.

Co-Signer: Ice Cube
"When I first heard them, they had a new style. It was a style that people kinda attributed to Rakim [who was also from Long Island], but to me their music was a lot funkier. When I think of EPMD, I think of beats — I think of the ultimate beats, and they had 'em. They had some of the best beats that money could buy. The first three albums — it's hard to find better beats in that era. Them dudes was just known for having everything an MC needs. My favorite EPMD song? Oh my God ... 'You Gots to Chill.' When they dropped that, that's what did it for us out here in the West because they was using [Zapp's] 'More Bounce to the Ounce,' and it was just fire. I got a chance to know them dudes through the industry and I'm good friends with Erick Sermon, so it's cool to see they on the list too."

100 Percent Proof
"Pass the Uzis to blow up/ Any wack MC that show up/ There goes one, blast him now (E, hold up!)/ Don't make me wait/ Because it might be too late/ The punk might escape/ And buck wild/ And in fact bite my style/ And I'mma catch a bullsh-- charge, plus trial/ It's my thing to swing/ Your first mistake: to bring/ A duck MC that can't hang." (Eric Sermon, "I'm Mad")

"The rap era's outta control/ Brothers sellin' their soul/ To go gold/ Going, going, gone, another rapper sold/ (To who?) To pop and R&B, not the MD/ I'm strictly hip-hop, I'll stick to Kid Capri." (Parrish Smith, "Crossover")

Selected Catalog
Strictly Business (1988), *Unfinished Business (1989), *Business as Usual (1990), *Business Never Personal (1992), Back in Business (1997), Out of Business (1999).

* = undeniable classic

NEXT: Brand Nubian's Grand Puba says of this group, '[When I first heard them,] I was like, 'Wow, this is it!' They had just a whole other vibe.' ...
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Photo: Ernest Paniccioli

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