EPMD Detail The Night Their Beef With Eric B. & Rakim Almost Got Physical (Video)
Earlier this year, EPMD joined Flava Flav, Large Professor, Bumpy Knuckles and more than 20 MCs at the 30th anniversary concert for Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid In Full. Rakim and Eric’s first concert together in years, also marked a historic armistice in 1980s Hip-Hop folklore.
On this week’s episode of Drink Champs, EPMD explain that while history has recently revealed a rivalry paved in subliminal lyrics between their camp and Eric B. & Rakim, there was at least one moment where it very nearly became physical. Capone-N-Noreaga and DJ EFN listen on.
“We’re [based] two towns away. Rakim is my mentor,” Erick Sermon admits, claiming “I Ain’t No Joke” was “the illest sh*t we’d ever heard.” He recites Rakim’s line, “You could get a smack for this, I ain’t no joke.” On EPMD’s “You’re A Customer,” there was an unintended reply that followed. “Parrish said, ‘You smack me, and I’ll smack you back‘ not knowing [it was received as a diss]. “The two towns did [think it was],” Sermon says, referring to their native Brentwood and Rakim’s Wyandanch sections of L.I. “Rakim made this sh*t called ‘Follow The Leader’: ‘A brother said, “Dig him?” I never dug him / He couldn’t follow the leader long enough so I drug him / It’s a danger zone…‘, we’re not f*ckin’ with him! Let’s keep it real: Parrish was incredible, but we’re not f*ckin’ with him though!” Parrish Smith shrugs and laughs as Erick continues.
As both groups continued to succeed into the ’90s, Erick says the two outfits attempted to squash the beef at ’90s New York City club The Building. PMD and Rakim grabbed a drink at the bar, and E-Double says he was called over by his partner. The parties made amends. P interjects, “That was the first [squashing of beef]; we had a couple.”
Recalling another incident, Erick takes back over, “They caught me in The Building by myself, N.O.R.E., on the 40th floor.” “It was lookin’ like the ‘Follow The Leader’ video,” Parrish adds. Eric and Rakim’s 1988 music video spoofed The Untouchables mobster film. “‘Preme, Eric B., and them was all there,” Sermon recalls, referring to the incarcerated Paid In Full Possé member Supreme Magnetic. “Ra’ said something like, ‘Yo Erick, you’re stressin’ me. I never even heard that [term before]. Just out the blue.” Downstairs, PMD says he was concerned about his partner. “I’m lookin’ for E. I can’t find him nowhere in The Building. So I was like, ‘Yo, let me check in the spot where we never go. They got all these wings; we don’t go in that wing—we keep it movin’.’ I walk past the door. I come in. And Erick [Sermon] and Rakim are like this: nose-to-nose.” Erick adds that he was above the club, in famed accountant Burt Padell’s office, with Rakim and the Fort Greene Brooklyn entourage. “Once I seen that scene, I already knew it was a situation,” PMD admits. “Big respect to Rakim. Basically, I was like, ‘Look, I don’t even know what’s going on in here. But it doesn’t seem correct; there must be a misunderstanding.’ Rakim was smooth wit’ it, and we rolled out. But when I got there I was like, ‘Ra’, what’s up?’ He was like, ‘Ya man E’s stressin’ me.'”
Although PMD’s words on “You’re A Customer” caused the initial problem, the second rift came when Sermon allegedly told a female acquaintance that he preferred an older Eric B. & Rakim album to a newer one. Word apparently got back to Eric and Ra’. The fact that Rakim previously mentored the Def Jam Records star added to the tension, which was since squashed. Earlier this year, E and P were on hand to celebrate the reunion of Eric B. & Rakim, and the 30th anniversary concert of Paid In Full.
Almost one year ago, 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.”
Parrish Smith is gearing up to release Business Mentality. He recently released video single “Slow Your Roll”:
The album releases September 29. It will feature Leaders Of The New School’s Dinco D, Agallah, and Grand Daddy I.U. protege John Jiggs.