Parrish Smith Discusses LL Cool J Dissing EPMD ON THEIR OWN SONG (Video)
For decades, LL Cool J has been known as one of the most ferocious MCs ever to pick up a microphone…or ink one on his arm. Long before 50 Cent, LL Cool J was the bully from Queens, taking on all comers, old and new. LL’s beefs with Kool Moe Dee and Ice-T are well-documented, and in one of his most infamous moves, the MC born James Todd Smith, invited Canibus on his record “4,3,2,1,” only to diss him when he perceived the rising MC to be coming for L’s famed microphone tattoo.
It was audacious for LL to attack Canibus on a record he shared with him, but at least it was LL’s own record. As it turns out, however, 7 years prior to that 1997 song, LL Cool J dissed EPMD as a guest on their own record. While Kendrick Lamar used that tactic nearly 25 years later, on Big Sean’s “Control,” to become a household name, in 1990, such irreverence had virtually never before been seen or heard.
While Erick Sermon has referenced Parrish and LL’s “secretly battling” on EPMD’s “Rampage” in the past, Parrish Smith recently visited the Sway In The Morning show, and he went into detail about just how far their rivalry went. “LL’s good for getting you on your own record. He’ll do you on your own record lovely, but, you know, that’s Todd. You can’t mess with Todd Smith,” says Parrish.
At around 18 minutes in, PMD references the exact lines that LL used to go at him and Erick on “Rampage.” “You and your squad better praise the real God / The undertaker, droppin thunder on fakers,” LL rapped about halfway through his verse. His line was a direct message to Erick, Parrish and their Hit Squad that LL bowed to no one. While LL had dominated Hip-Hop for several years before EPMD came on the scene, he was in the middle of a bit of a drought at the time and, as Erick Sermon tells it to Complex, Russell Simmons had urged L to join EPMD, who were blazing hot, on a record. “Russell Simmons told LL Cool J to get with EPMD. He was on with the ‘Pink Cookies’ thing, but Russell felt that he needed to be with EPMD. That’s why he came with us and got his swagger back. Nobody knows that part,” said Sermon. “So he befriended us, got out and used us, and then came out with Mama Said Knock You Out, and the album was phenomenal.”
Whether Simmons’ suggestion is what caused LL to join the track with a chip on his shoulder or not, “Rampage” was an instant classic, and, as Sermon said, LL’s next album was a bona fide smash. Even with his renewed success, apparently LL was not done grinding his axe with EPMD. Earlier in the interview, Parrish details how Cool J dissed them further on his record “To Da Break Of Dawn,” and had the temerity to play the song for PMD to his face. “LL will diss you in a nice way and you won’t get it until the next day when you wake up and you’re like ‘Oh..’,” said Parrish. “He caught us on ‘To Da Break Of Dawn’ lovely, and the way he introduced me to it was lovely. We went out hanging one night. We’re out there rolling. Then we come home, and he’s like ‘Yo. I want you to hear something.’ So, I’m like ‘Yo. Alight.’ I’m listening to it. So, he’s playing it and I’m like ‘Yo. This is dope!,’ and I’m just hype, as a fan. But, then when he gives me the song and I’m riding home, I’m like ‘Uh oh. Hold up. Yo, play that back again.'”
As longtime LL fans know, “To Da Break Of Dawn,” one of the early singles from Mama Said Knock You Out, was a scorching battle record on which he went at longtime rivals like Kool Moe Dee and Ice-T. Regarding the latter, LL used one of his most memorable lines as he rapped “Give me a lighter. Whoof!. Now you cut loose from that jherri curl juice,” about his West Coast foe who, to this day, still wears a perm.
While LL’s shots at Ice-T, Moe Dee and even MC Hammer on the song are well-known, Parrish points to the lines that were aimed at him and Sermon in verse 3. There are only 4 bars for EPMD, but it’s clear, from Sermon’s context, that LL wanted to let the duo know that Jack The Ripper was back. “You know the L.L.’s back in town / And all the wanna-be sherrifs is gettin’ shot down / Gimme that microphone / I’mma show you the real meaning of the danger zone.” Not only is L putting them on notice of his return to form, he also uses references to their lines in “Strictly Business” and “You’re A Customer” to do it.
Elsewhere in the interview, Parrish discusses EPMD’s brushes with Rakim, his new album and more.