Redman Details The Violent Split of Hit Squad & The Origins of Def Squad (Video)
Redman’s connection to Erick Sermon is deep. The two started working together more than 25 years ago, after Sermon met Red when Red was DJ’ing for Lords Of The Underground. “I knew there was something spectacular about him. Right off the bat. The next day, we talked. And within the next two or three months, he moved to Long Island, to my crib. He moved right in to my apartment,” said Sermon of the encounter, in an interview with Complex. With that kind of history, the two have been through a lot together, and Redman shared some of the crazier tales with DJ VLAD.
The conversation begins with a discussion of the volatile breakup of EPMD and their Hit Squad collective, which included Red, Keith Murray, K-Solo, DJ Scratch, Das EFX and more. The split was so acrimonious, Sermon moved to Atlanta because it had grown violent. Said Redman of the turbulent times, “It got crazy. It got real crazy–to house invasions, to E’s house getting shot up. My room, where I stayed in at at E’s house, bullet holes was through that room. It got pretty crazy. I was like ‘Wow, it’s like some movie shit going on.'” The MC born Reggie Noble also detailed the toll Erick and Parrish’s break up had on the other members of the collective, forcing them to pick sides. “Everyone hung with each other, so it was kind of fucked up where we couldn’t hang with Parrish. And, Das, they loved E, but they was so much under Parrish, so they kinda faded with Parrish.”
Even bigger than the personal toll the rift took on Redman were the business implications. “My thing was I was disappointed that it got really nuts when it was my time to shine,” he said. “That’s when my first album came out, and we was supposed to go on tour again when my first album came out. We went on tour with K-Solo’s album and Das EFX’s album. Now, it’s my time to go on tour and have the Hit Squad back me and have the whole empowerment of the Hit Squad backing Redman now for his solo project. And, that shit never happened because of the breakup and all the bullshit that was happening. But, yeah, it got real crazy from home invasions to house getting shot up. Shit was real.”
While Red did not have the support of Hit Squad, his allegiance with Erick Sermon would serve him well, as the beneficiary of Sermon’s ear and thunderous tracks. A new collective would also come into being that helped propel his career. “Keith Murray comes along, and then the Def Squad happens,” said Red. In discussing what would become one of Hip-Hop’s most dominant collectives, Noble reveals a side of Keith Murray that is sometimes hidden from the media. “Keith Murray was in college. A lot of people don’t know. Keith Murray is a very smart, intelligent dude. That other side of him gets in the camera for y’all, but Keith Murray was in college. He was in his third year of college, going to school every day, but he was just witty with that pen. He was introduced…He immediately started fucking with E, and we welcomed him in with open arms.” After recalling how he and Murray bonded as friends, Redman spoke about the actual formation of the new group. “We formed the Def Squad after his first album came out. And, we went on tour and started pushing the Def Squad. That’s when we dropped the album Def Squad with Def Jam.”
In addition to discussing the Hit Squad and Def Squad history, Red also spoke with Vlad about how hard he rode for Erick Sermon, including pulling car jackings with K-Solo. He also reflects on how he has been able to maintain his consistency musically over the years. As with all things Redman, the conversation is 100% real.