Saturday, December 09, 2006

the hit squad

i like to think of the late '80s and early '90s as a golden age of hip-hop. by '86 or '87, the artform of rapping had evolved enough that vocals were no longer had the sing-songy cadence of the earliest hip-hop (think: fat boys). likewise, production styles (and perhaps more importantly, digital samplers and drum machines) had evolved beyond the disco beats of the late '70s and the cheap-sounding drum loops of the early '80s. by the late '90s, commercial hip-hop got a bit too obsessed with bling and gangsta lyrics, becoming a caricature of itself. (these days, the best new hip-hop generally doesn't get played on the radio, although the neptunes and timbaland do a lot to make hip-hop radio listenable.) also, things were never the same after the sampling lawsuits of the '90s made it commercially unfeasible to keep releasing records like the beastie boys' paul's boutique or PE's fear of a black planet.

this "golden age" brought us legengary hip-hop ensembles like eric b & rakim, public enemy, and nwa, all of which are still hugely influential today. (rapper "the game" wants to be nwa so badly that he has a huge nwa tattoo on his titty.) almost as popular at the time (though not remembered quite as much today) was the seminal duo EPMD. sadly, after a few years, EPMD broke up, with erick "e-double" sermon and parrish "PMD" smith going their separate ways: erick continuing on with a productive career as a producer and occasional rapper, and PMD seemingly disappearing, only to pop up every few years to drop a record before returning to the shadows. in '97 they got back together and cut another album, but it didn't take.

it seems like every successful hip-hop act develops an entourage of aspiring younger rappers, and EPMD was no exception: their crew was called the hit squad. the hit squad consisted of k-solo (who had a hit with "your mom's in my business" and a few more singles before vanishing into obscurity, though apparently he has beef with DMX), das efx (perhaps the most lyrically interesting of the hit squad; "they want efx" is like a magnificently absurd sound poem), and redman (possibly the least interesting in the squad, though he would grow to be the most successful of all: yes, redman eventually hooked up with wu-tang's method man and eventually the two of them went on to make a movie, a sitcom, and multiple commercials for deodorant).

anyway, enough chatter... let's get on with the videos! as always, some videos feature lyrics that might not be safe for work.


EPMD


erick sermon


PMD


k-solo


das efx


redman

1 comment:

dj empirical said...

damn, guy! i'll have to settle in for a while tonight and watch these. i'm sure i've never seen most of them....