Knucklehedz - Stricktly Savage (shelved, released in Germany on May 11, 1993)

Today's post is the final entry in my current Hit Squad run. It is also the most depressing.

So if you've been following my blog in recent weeks, I guess you'd be quite familiar with the EPMD story: Two very talented and driven people who shared a genuine friendship that was ripped apart by their rapid artistic success. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Hit Squad breakup prevented what could've been one of the biggest movements in musical history. What transpired after only served to sour the mouths of everyone who ever got down with Erick Sermon, Parish Smith and underlings K-Solo, Redman and Das EFX. Thankfully, all parties involved were able to push through and build respectable careers for themselves in this hip hop game. Hell, even sidelined acts like Keith Murray and Craig Mack, who practically lost their door into the industry because of said breakup, were able to dust themselves off and find other gateways in. As I said, all parties involved …

Redman - Whut? Thee Album (October 9, 1992)

Reggie Noble. DJ Kut Killa. Redman. Funkadelic Devil. Soopaman Luva. Funk Doc. Eminem's favorite rapper. Possibly the late great Sean Price' favorite rapper, too. Where do I even start with this dude?

I'll probably start by mentioning that I was introduced to his crazy and straight up hilarious ass in three video games: the first two Def Jam Aki Corporation wrestling games and True Crime NYC. Comedy relief in all three, his work genuinely made me interested in whatever material he put out. Until I heard that dratted fictional radio station The Liberty Jam that very same season off the underrated PSP game GTA LCS, set in 1998. On that station, host DJ Clue picked a song from the timeless Muddy Waters album, widely heralded as Reggie's finest hour in hip hop, called Do What Ya Feel. It wasn't a single. It wasn't even that popular by the time the game was released. But it was the second ever Redman & Method Man collaboration and it damn well left an impressio…

EPMD - Business Never Personal (August 7,1992)

At the end of 1991, the house of one Parish Smith of EPMD was robbed. The assailants clamied to the police that Parish's EPMD partner Erick Sermon paid them to do so. The implications of this incident would lead the entire Hit Squad movement, by then tearing emphatically through the whole hip hop industry, to a deafening halt and, more importantly, put a loathesome strain on a lifelong friendship.

To understand the magnitude of hip hop's loss, the achievements of said Hit Squad must be reflected upon: 3 gold albums, 1 platinum album and a gang of timeless hits by them and fellow Squadians K-Solo & Das EFX. A considerable heap of critical acclaim for the movement's largely-unified sound of grimy funk beats added with a colorful variety of lyrical styles was all the more reason for the Hit Squad to become the blueprint for the collective that would definitively take their place within the annals of hip hop history: The Wu-Tang Clan. Surely you know I'm right by now.

K-Solo - Time's Up (June 2, 1992)

After securing the only guest spot on EPMD’s second gem "Unfinished Business", Kevin Madison by day and K-Solo by night managed to convince Erick & Parish to commission an entire album produced by them, despite him introducing a fucking ridiculous gimmick AND fucking it up royally.
With this opportunity that many better rappers dreamed of, Kevin Self Organisation Left Others managed not to fuck it up too much, producing an album that was split right down the middle. On one half, amazing beats by Parish and undeniable storytelling from our host.  I'd rather not tell you about the other half. I'm still trying to wash all the shit outta my ear but to no avail.  Yet.
Nevertheless, songs like "Fugitive", "Tales From The Crack Side" & "Your Mom's In My Business" managed to win over enough acclaim to secure backing for a sophomore effort.
The year is 1992. EPMD, K-Solo & Redman are on top of the fucking world solely because of …

Das EFX - Dead Serious (April 7, 1992)

(Again, we have another review I wrote for Max’ Hip Hop Isn’t Dead. I expect to be posting more of those in the near future, and here you get to read the “blogger’s cut” of those posts, if you will. Once again, shoutouts to Max. Also, this Hit Squad run will only be concerned with albums executive-produced by EPMD.)

Remember when mainstream hip hop actually sounded good?

In the early 1990s, the G-Funk sound from the West Coast had the game, to quote Inspectah Deck, "in the Cobra Clutch". Its figurehead, Dr. Dre, had been storming the charts ever since his days with N.W.A. His Death Row Records brethren only furthered the aggressiveness of their takeover, basically snatching radio airplay from under New York's struggling noses. Well, not necessarily struggling: a few established acts, such as Public Enemy, were still selling well. But the new blood failed to make any sort of impact on the radio, and the old guard were fading from popularity.

As a counteractive measure, N…

EPMD - Business As Usual (January 11, 1991)

Let's set the scene.
You're EPMD, right? You just released two back-to-back albums that have both achieved commercial successes and became highly influential setpieces that have revolutionized the very sound of the art form known as hip hop, right? You also just so happened to have acquired a deal with Atlantic Records, then-headed by creativity shovel Sylvia Rhone of all people, for an album by the debut member of your own legendary hip hop roster, thereby laying the foundation for a full-blown takeover of the hip hop industry, right? And you're doing all this from a small, hole-in-the-wall label called Sleeping Bag Records in the time space of three goddamn years, right? How do you make sure you turn this rapid progression into one for the long haul?
Fuck if I know.
Seriously, a mere two years after they debuted, Erick "Microphone Wrecka" Sermon and Parish "Microphone Doctor" Smith were blowing up, fast. And they did so without compromising one damn …