EPMD Reveal Eric B. & Rakim Used The Rhythm To Hit Them With A Diss (Video)
Last Fall, Rakim spoke before a special live event with the Juan Epstein Podcast. There, the lyrical half of Eric B. & Rakim told Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds about a number of highlight moments surrounding his 30-plus-year career. To fans of 1980s Rap rivalries and supreme lyricism, one section was especially potent.
“You know, comin’ up, I try to be as humble as possible. But [Big Daddy] Kane was one of the MCs that was a problem,” Rakim said at one point at the New York City event. He added, “Being young and cocky, I used to look at him out the side-eye a lil’ bit. Recently…a couple years ago, we sat down. I got the utmost respect for him. Just like EPMD; I got the utmost respect for ’em.” The hosts ask if Rakim had tensions with fellow islanders Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith. “Back then it wasn’t really good with too much of anybody. It wasn’t really a problem, it was just testosterone.” He later specified, “I just tried to stay clear of a lot of industry things…It was me just trying to stay normal and keep my sanity. I never wanted to appear better than anybody. It was just young, egotistical MC, knowing that I was kinda doin’ my thing. More than that, I think that was Hip-Hop then. It was chest out. It wasn’t a lot of friendly groups collaborating. That came after that era.”
While Rakim dissing his Long Island neighbors EPMD was new information to much of the public, Erick and Parrish were well aware however. Today (February 3) The Archivest uploaded his July 2016 interview with the former Def Jam Records stars, backstage in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Asking each member of the group their career highlights, Erick Sermon points to the 1990 Rap Mania televised concert at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. “There was a show that we did on cable. It was East to West Coast,” describes Sermon at approximately 4:30. “It was dope. All the performers could watch each other.” “It was the Rap Mania,” clarifies PMD, of the TV event hosted by Fab 5 Freddy. “Rap Mania was great; people should look that up,” continues Erick (the video is available below). “It was dope to watch Rap Mania. Rakim did, for the first time, ‘[Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em],’ which was…we were all sitting there with our mouths open like [fans] while he was dissin’ us.” Both Erick and Parrish, who is the one to interject the word ‘fans,’ laugh at the 26-plus-year-old moment.
While Erick mistakenly names the song as 1988’s “Follow The Leader,” another title-track single was in fact what the MCA Records superstars performed, 1990’s “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” (the performance is below).
Neither Erick nor Parrish state which lyrics in Rakim’s four verses were aimed at the Brentwood, Long Islanders, leading many fans to wonder which lines E & P took offense to, even as Eric B. & Rakim supporters.
Here is the aforementioned Rakim performance:
Rakim has previously stated that an early edition of “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” was in fact aimed at Big Daddy Kane. In early 1990, when “Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em” released, EPMD had released two gold-certified albums, most recently 1989’s Unfinished Business.
The interview also discusses EPMD touring with Run-D.M.C. and reuniting with their original DJ, Diamond J.
#BonusBeat: EPMD’s Rap Mania performance of “So Whatcha Sayin”:
This of course begs the question of if in any EPMD lyrics there was a clever reply.