Formed in the early 90s, the East Coast-based Hip Hop collective Hit Squad served as one of rap’s earliest crews and according to New Jersey emcee Redman, Hit Squad were the originators of the Hip Hop crew. He says the collective, which consisted of himself, EPMD, Das EFX, and a handful of other members, helped influence the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Odd Future.
Redman spoke on the crew while breaking down a line from his Dare Iz A Darkside record, “Rockafella R.I.P.” On the song Redman raps, “Sat down and opened my mind and said it’s time for me to design the right lines.”
He later revealed that that particular lyric from “Rockafella R.I.P.” was his way of establishing himself as a solo artist.
“At that time when I wrote that I was in the midst of establishing myself from a crew,” he said during an interview with Rachel Leah. “From a very large crew that really opened the door of crews out there like Wu-Tang and Odd Future and Young Money. We was the originators of having a crew. Hit Squad, do your homework. EPMD, Das EFX, K-Solo, Keith Murray. We the original ones. So, when I wrote that line I was in the midst of establishing myself to be different from the rest of my crew. Cause everyone was large. Das EFX had a platinum record in ’91 and they was from the East Coast. That’s unheard of. EPMD was constantly gold. K-Solo was spelling on the records to make himself stand out. So, when I was doing my albums and stuff I was still generated with my crew, but I had to let everybody know I was more funk. I was more lyrics. And I was lyrical skill.”
Although Redman hasn’t released a solo studio album since 2010, he says he has “three treats” prepared for fans this year, which include a Muddy Waters 2 mixtape, EP, and a studio album.
“I got Muddy Waters 2 the mixtape. I got Muddy Waters 2 the EP. And Muddy Waters 2 the album,” Redman said. “So, y’all getting three treats this year. And the Red and Meth single for the Blackout 3 album. At the end of the year.”
Primarily known for his work behind the mic, Redman has flaunted his production talents occasionally, but says it’s a craft he was never able to fully focus on and therefore put it to the side.
“It started getting more advanced and I was doing a lot of other things too,” the Newark, New Jersey rapper said. “Just overall whenever you say you’re gonna do something I like to do it to the fullest and do it big. And I don’t like considering myself—I wouldn’t stamp myself to be official unless I had more work and more practice in it. And when you call yourself a producer you have to be in it to win it every day learning and going through music and beats and trying shit every day to call yourself a producer. And I wasn’t doing that every day. I would freelance with it here and there, but my thing was writing to be an emcee. So, I just stuck to that.”