Erick Sermon Speaks Openly About Earnings, Helping Create Atlanta’s Scene (Video)
Erick Sermon does not do a ton of interviews. However, when the EPMD and Def Squad co-founder speaks, he’s never big on canned, diplomatic answers. E-Dub opens up in a major way when speaking with This Is 50’s Jack Thriller. The Brentwood, Long Island MC/producer breaks down his 2000s-era comeback hit, “Music.”
The hit song, originally featured on the What’s The Worst That Could Happen? soundtrack was prompted after Sermon was listening to outtakes from Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love and Sexual Healing Sessions compilation. Sermon took Gaye’s vocals from an early demo version of “Turn On Some Music” and applied them to his latest composition. In speaking with This Is 50, the Green-Eyed Bandit says he paid $150,000 to Gaye’s widow for the rights and permission to the vocals. As Sermon explains, the song would ultimately lead to a $3 million deal with Clive Davis’ newly-opened J Records. (Interestingly enough, the aforementioned soundtrack was supervised by another ’80s Hip-Hop legend formerly managed by Russell Simmons: Eric B.)
After talking about his solo hiatus since 2002 and the blockbuster J Records deal, Erick explains how other artists sampling him (including Mario Winans recently ponying up $100,000) keeps his pockets fat. Sermon talks hard figures, from 75 million records sold, to owning all of his own publishing.
By the 3:00 mark, Erick discusses how Angie Martinez made a hit out of 2002’s Redman-featuring “React,” before the third member of Def Squad, Keith Murray, had a chance to record his verse. Later on, Sermon recalls Keith Murray talking greasy to a pre-Crooked Lettaz era David Banner at Erick’s rim shop on Peachtree in Atlanta, Georgia. The shop was patronized by everybody from Usher, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and TLC to 2Pac, T.I., and Goodie Mob. Sermon explains that he was the first out of town artist to find haven in ATL. Claiming he moved down in 1993, Sermon believes he predates the likes of Too Short, Daz Dillinger, and Diamond D.
The discussion extends to Sermon’s not so subtle beliefs about Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ financial winnings within TLC, given her songwriting (and a possible extended history with Sermon)—and how even the rim shop experience was sort of referenced in the 2014 VH1 biopic.
This is a great interview…if only all artists were this open, whether truthful or not.
#BonusBeat: Erick also sampled Marvin Gaye’s sexual healing on 1993’s single, “Safe Sex” from the No Pressure LP.