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EPMD:We Mean Business

We Mean Business
(EP Records/RBC)

Without a doubt, EPMD is one of rap’s most enduring duos, delivering funk-fueled bangers for over 20 years. After a 10-year hiatus filled with solo endeavors, Erick and Parrish reunite to make dollars with their seventh release, We Mean Business.

Over the celebratory horns of the Raekwon-assisted “Puttin’ Work In,” Parrish challenges anyone questioning his squad’s legacy: “Who’s one of the dopest MCs, rockin’ mics for years?/Ask any cat on the street, and they’ll point right here.” After establishing their supremacy, EPMD proceed to chastise green-eyed monsters on the O’Jays-inspired “Bac Stabbers,” before giving way to impressive collaborations. They effortlessly ride alongside Mobb Deep on the menacing “What You Talkin’” and successfully glide over 9th Wonder’s groovy boom-bap on “Left 4 Dead.”

The problem, however, is the album’s inconsistent flavor, as evidenced by Teddy Riley’s poor Roger Troutman impersonation on the dull “Listen Up.” Elsewhere, Sermon and Parrish stumble over the outdated West Coast bounce of “Roc-Da-Spot,” while even Redman’s fiery flow can’t lull “Yo” out of its sleepy, ho-hum drift.

Despite their backslides, EPMD manage to keep it funky with their dusty beats and fresh rhymes on We Mean Business. It’s apparent that, even after two decades, the rap veterans still have something left to offer. Too bad it’s strictly business this time out, and a little less personal. —MEKA UDOH

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