Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

Welcome To B&S



EPMD: Forum, London 18/02/11

EPMD @HMV Forum Kentish Town 19/02/11
EPMD @HMV Forum Kentish Town 19/02/11 EPMD's Erick Sermon @HMV Forum Kentish Town 19/02/11 DJ Scratch @HMV Forum Kentish Town 19/02/11 EPMD crowd @HMV Forum Kentish Town 19/02/11

I arrived at the Forum and there was no drama on the door. I met up with some old skool B-Boy heads from waaaay back in the day - DJ Dexter from D 2 The K & The Brotherhood, Colt FortyFive from The Muddy Funksters, DJ Bizniz from London Posse and Graf legend Ariane. We all bounced up to the VIP section and settled in for watching the show...

Skits was dropping a slamming set of Hip Hop bangers hyping the crowd and doing a very good job too. On stage was some American dooood called Big Ted who seemed very lost and out of his depth as a host. He wasn’t really engaging the crowd and while I was milling around downstairs chatting to the hordes of old skool headz that had all descended on this gig, the general vibe was that this guy was pretty annoying and there were heckles for him to stop chatting – that’s the polite version! I mean he was giving people information on the tracks about who produced it what label it was on and what year it came out as well as rapping along with tracks – it was pretty damn patronising. Somebody shoulda told the Big Ted from South London that there’s some chump using his name!!

Rodney P stepped on stage and his set banged from the front to the back! As the self declared “Hip Hop Souljah from way back when” He dropped verses from London Posse Classics to Collabo projects and even his own Solo offerings. The crowd were feelin him and you could feel the love he had in the room – it was big! It was a relatively short set and towards the end we were introduced to his protégé – an MC called “Bugsy” [I think? I kinda missed the name] and he dropped a Ragga infused double time style rap a la Leslie Lyrics over what I can only describe as what London Posse would be doing if they were still around now! The crowd weren’t that moved but at the end of the gig they gave props and Rodney left the staged having represented well.

His set was followed by what I can only describe as a too damn f**king long interval with more aimless wandering around the stage and vocal meandering commentary from Big Ted.

Finally there was movement on stage, DJ Scratch was behind his decks on a podium and bottles of water were laid out below him in readiness for the E Dubble & PMD. You could feel the excitement building and the atmosphere was electric. I peeped over the balcony and downstairs was just a mass of people I would say there was well over 1000 heads there - all Hip Hop fans. This is by far one of the best Hip Hop gigs I’ve attended in recent years where the crowd was Hip Hop [not your usual fare at Hip Hop gigs].

The lights went out, the stage was shrouded in darkness and we heard the familiar sound of Helicopter blades as DJ Scratch was lit up as though from a helicopter search light and then was the familiar vocal sample of Marva Whitney’s “It’s my thang” followed by the inevitable and probably dopest bass line from The Whole Darn Family’s ‘Seven Minutes of Funk’ loop that launched EPMD to the masses back in 1987 on Fresh Records. The house lights flashed blinding the crowd [and me] momentarily as the duo bounced on stage and from there on in the joint was jumping!!

** Now I’ve heard many people say that EPMD haven’t played in the UK since the Brixton gig 10 years ago and this is their first UK appearance since!? Well that’s not strictly true. I saw them 2 years ago ay the Indigo2 on the ‘Rock The Bells’ tour with The Pharcyde & Nas. I even covered that gig in this very magazine which saddens me because that shows that there are folk out there in the business who should be reading B&S more, for if they were they’d be up-to-date and really know, like we do at B&S, what’s actually going on!

Back to Eric & Parish; Just as we heard a verse from each of the pair Scratch dropped in ‘I shot the Sheriff’ and it became clear that the opening gambit was gonna be a medley from the first couple of LP’s to get everyone hyped. Next up was ‘You’re just a Customer’ and then Eric addressed the crowd and demonstrated that either maths ain’t his strong point or he don’t know what year we in!!?? He was saying how long they been in the business and said that 22 yrs for any artist is good going and that how it was only down to the fans that they are still doing what they love the most and he bigged up the fans.

Scratch started cutting up a beat and the two dropped a freestyle right there and cause it was summing we ain’t heard before it proved without doubt that EPMD are still Fresh and CAN rock the MiC even after 24yrs or more in the business. What all that time in the business does for an artist is season them and allow them to develop their on stage personalities which EPMD have got down to a fine art. They have the ability and confidence to walk around and add new lines to their classic tracks and interact with other seamlessly on the spot, stop the DJ playing and chat to their audience. Now I don’t know if you have seen EPMD before or not or even watched any of their videos but the pair of them, AND the rest of The Hit Squad for that matter [Redman, K Solo, DasFX, Knucklehedz & Hurricane G], are a bunch of jokers and by clowning around on stage they actually come off more likeable and real than most rappers I’ve seen live who struggle to make any kind of affinity or connection with their audience.

As slick as a Kid Capri mix-tape Scratch cuts out of the Freestyle and into perhaps one of the heaviest anthems not just for EPMD but in Hip Hop… “So What ya Sayin’?” Those unmistakeable guitars lifted from B.T. Express’ “If it don’t turn you on” and the vocal chants from “One nation under a groove” then the whole place is one mass of rising bodies all jumping in perfect syncopation snapping on beat and totally in time – I can’t think of the last time I saw this [apart from when The Beat Genius drops a DJ set in a club or at a party]. Once again the vibe is magic and I feel like I’ve been transported back in time to when I first saw EPMD up at the Electric Ballroom along with Stetsasonic, Steezo and K Solo more or less with the same crowd I was hanging out with at this gig back in 1988. Surprisingly Messrs Sermon and Smith perform that track to it’s entirety and as soon as it’s finished the house light go out and the pair walk off stage.

Next up, DJ Scratch is lit up in a strange blue hue as though he’s about to get abducted by some Hip Hop loving aliens and he announces he’s gonna treat us to one of his legendary displays of turntablist prowess. The next 12 mins sees us all in awe of a true original master at work cutting, scratching and tricking the Decks like only he can and no sooner had he started the lights go out again as we’re shrowded in darkness only to be blinded by the stage spots while E-Dub and PMD come back on stage. The lights fade down to reveal them standing in their bestest B-Boys stance as the intro loop for ‘Please listen to my Demo’ gently comes in [lifted from Faze O’s ‘Riding High’]. DJ Dexter and I glanced at each other with a knowing look recognising that we both sampled this years before EPMD did, he when he was in D 2 The K and me when I was making beats for various UK artists, but it’s still a banging track and we both loved the loop so we furiously bugged out to that one!! DJ Scratch & EPMD are one rare experience where they actually mix in effortlessly their own tracks almost like a live mix tape. I say this because I didn’t even realise that we’d gone from ‘Please listen to my Demo’ to ‘Jane’ without any pauses stops or introductions – that’s how slick these guys are!

Then Eric Sermon stops Scratch in the middle of the track as he poses for some fans taking photo’s and he goes in to a monologue about how he hates Celebs who don’t make time for their fans. Now this ain’t verbatim but it’s as close as; he goes on to say that nothing annoys him more when he sees or hears about people who refuse to sign photos or autographs. He says it is the fans who enable the celebs to drive their nice cars and live in their phat cribs, wear their nice clothes and f**k their hot women – he says it is YOU the fans who put them where they are and they should make time for their people, so anything that a celeb refuses to sign a photo or autograph… smack the shit outta them!! This of course, made the whole house roar with laughter and for a split second it feels like we were in a comedy club. Like I said earlier these guys are proper jokers and keep it so real.

What happened next is a tribute to EPMD’s professionalism and how well they work together for to call it a medley would be an injustice but the hits all got rocked one after the other: Golddigger, Rampage, Hardcore & Crossover all full versions and these guys put everything in to their performances. Once again the crowd were so hyped I was waiting for people to start exploding in little bubbles of orgasms – ok maybe not but it was close. There was love in in room the crowd were ecstatic and you could tell that The Green Eyed Bandit and The Pee himself were even taking back. Erick stepped forward and told the crowd that “THIS is why London is our favourite place to perform, we get down with Wu Tang and De La Soul and we all agree that London keeps Hip Hop alive!!”

WOW! What a thing to be told? Looking at some of the heads at this gig they either weren’t around or were in nappies when I was checking EPMD out and playing their tracks in clubs and at parties but just imagine going to one of your first Hip Hop gigs by some true legend like EPMD and hearing them talk about your home town like that? London got some serious props!

Next up we got a slice of Erick Sermon and PMD solo joints. First up PMD rocked ‘Ruff Rugged & Raw” and claimed the MiC’s he’s only friend and swiftly declared “I saw it comin” This crowd were obviously true fans and Hip Hop aficionados to the extreme as they were bouncing HARD to these jams!

I always felt that PMD wasn’t as interesting as E-Dubble’s solo joints personally, and preferred E-Dubs solo efforts as they were more in line with what I liked about EPMD’s overall sound and though many moaned about the lazy almost off time delivery of Erick Sermon’s Vocal it was PMD who played the ‘straight man’ that made EPMD so syncopated and pulled it all in. So when Erick Sermon dropped 2 of his Solo tracks it was no surprise to me that the roof almost blew off! ‘React’ and ‘Music’ were his two tracks thus proving emphatically who was the more accepted solo artiste outta the two. Perhaps not fair as PMD did really concentrate on production and artist development that his own solo career having only worked on 2 album projects.

The Finalé track was ‘Headbanger’ not that we were told this until it was done and again EPMD ripped up the stage and totally owned it. Then they announced that they were done! I and certainly all the people with me, were stunned and thought that the guys were just messing with us so we waited for an encore… sadly it wasn’t coming. There was so much more I wanted to hear from EPMD really and truly they only touched the first 3 or 4 albums and even then there were tracks that never got touched. Obviously this is the sign or a good gig, leave the crown wanting more so they come back and these guys certainly achieved that!

This has to be one f the best B-Boy concerts I’ve been too in many years. They youngers were outnumbered by the Old Skool by at least 5:1 maybe more and The Forum must have been at capacity [or more!?]. I didn’t clock or hear of any trouble and it was all very civilised. I had to go get my coat from the cloakroom and then bounce back upstairs to the After-party where we mingled and boogied to Breaks and Hip Hop classics. All in all my favourite gig in many years. I’m now looking forward to BlackStar, De La Soul & Rakim on May 10th… that is gonna blow up the spot!!

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

Join the B&S Mailing List

Blues and Soul on Twitter