Not lucky enough to get an advance copy in the mail and not wanting to wait for Amazon to deliver it, I decided to pick this CD up the first day it came out, as I had done with previous EPMD offerings. But after hitting three Best Buys and two Circuit City stores, I was still empty-handed and the calendar was about to flip to 2009. I finally tracked this elusive album down on the last day of the year at a Target, of all places, while stocking up on cat food and paper products. (Man, I miss the days of Co-op Tapes & Records.)
Much like some of the references above, there are times when EPMD sounds dated, particularly Parrish Smith with his name-drops of A.J. Benza and Dominique Dawes. But their core audience knows what they're talking about, and maybe that's the point. They are who they are and they consistently bring that style on each and every album, no matter how long the layoff.
Smith and his partner, Erick Sermon, bring the metaphors like nobody else, and We Mean Business contains all you would expect from an EPMD album and more. Def Squad standbys like Keith Murray, Redman and, of course, "Jane" reappear, as well as legends new and old like KRS-One, Method Man, Raekwon and Mobb Deep's Havoc. The Notorious B.I.G. makes a cameo on "Roc-Da-Spot" by way of a sample that complements "Roger and Zapp in the back." Along those same lines, Teddy Riley pays tribute to Troutman and teaches a lesson to Kanye West and T-Pain on "Listen Up" by altering his voice the traditional way -- with a talkbox. Other standout tracks that don't feature guest artists from the hip-hop hall of fame include "Bac Stabbers," "Blow" and "Left 4 Dead," which draws comparisons between the loss of Biggie and 2Pac and the current state of hip-hop.
It all adds up to a worthy return to the scene. EPMD never tries to be something that they're not, which means if you're a fan, you'll always be able to count on them to deliver. No matter how the sales turn out -- get those albums in the big box stores, too -- Erick and Parrish need to try making dollars again before nine years pass next time. Click here to find out how to buy this album.