EPMD "Unfinished Business" In Review: 25-Year Anniversary

Exclusive: HipHopDX looks back at EPMD's "Unfinished Business" 25 years after its original release date.

EPMD'sUnfinished Businesswas released July 25, 1989 on Fresh Records. The effort is the follow-up to 1988's critically acclaimed EPMD debut album,Strictly Business,and it features "So Wat Cha Sayin'," one of the duo's biggest hits. Twenty five years after its release, HipHopDX looks back at the album's reviews, singles, awards and the group's history following the 1989 album release.

EPMD's Unfinished Business' Reviews Revisited

Critics praised Unfinished Business for upholding the quality of EPMD's debut, while continuing to give the two emcee's a platform to further establish themselves. One reviewer wrote that the album improves upon its predecessor in the fourth edition of The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, which gave the album a four out of five. "Unfinished Business is more professional," they wrote. "Still strictly breaks and beats, their sophomore album isn't much of a departure, but it does find them settling into their lyrical personas, Smith the straight-faced heavy and Sermon the comic relief."

AllMusic gave the album half a star more than Rolling Stone, highlighting some of the similarities between Unfinished Business and EPMD's debut. "For the most part, EPMD's lyrics aren't exactly profound -- boasting and attacking sucker MCs is still their favorite activity," AllMusic said. "However, Erick and Parrish do challenge themselves a bit lyrically on 'You Had Too Much to Drink' (a warning against drunk driving) and 'Please Listen to My Demo,' which recalls the days when they were struggling. But regardless of subject matter, they keep things exciting by having such an appealing, captivating sound. Comedian Chris Rock even placed the album on his Top 25 Hip Hop albums list for Rolling Stone. 'Before Eminem made "Lose Yourself," 'Please Listen To My Demo' was the best record about wanting to become a rapper ever made."

Unfinished Business Singles & Awards

On "So Wat Cha Sayin," the opening track and sole single of the album, Erick and Parrish rap, "The proof is in the pudding/ Yo, check the Billboard." The single peaked at #5 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart and 23 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. Unfinished Business's performance on the charts mirrored this as well, peaking at #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts. In just under three months after its release, Unfinished Business was certified Gold by the RIAA.

The album also made an appearance as #39 on The Source's 1998 Top 100 Rap Albums of All Time list, just behind EPMD's Business As Usual and Strictly Business at 37 and 38, respectively.

EPMD Releases Following Unfinished Business

Continuing the motif of "business" titles, EPMD has released five albums since Unfinished Business. EPMD switched labels from Fresh Records to Def Jam Records, and immediately followed up with their last #1 album, Business As Usual, in 1990.

While recording their next album, Business Never Personal, Sermon and Smith had a falling out. Sermon reportedly hired a group of people to rob Smith's house. As a result, both artists embarked on a solo career.

Unfinished Business's legacy can be measured by its influence on later Hip Hop records. The track "Knick Knack Paddy Wack" was one of the first to sample Joe Cocker's "Woman To Woman," which was later sampled on Tupac's "California Love," and spawned Tha Dogg Pound's cover on In The Beginning...There Was Rap. Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek also delivered their own rendition of "So Wat Cha Sayin" on the Just Blaze-produced "So What You Saying" in 2001.

2008 saw the release of EPMD's latest album, We Mean Business. DX gave the album a four out of five, highlighting the duo's retention of quality over time. "We Mean Business is a contemporary album that upholds '80s emcee codes of honor, and the '90s tradition of collaboration," DX said. "From the very beginning, EPMD has never made a poor album. No longer with Def Jam and big studio and sample budgets, they still haven't. Moreover, after Out Of Business felt like a fulfilled label obligation, along with a steady offering of good, traditional New York rap, the real takeaway from We Mean Business is to see E and P together for them and the fans, and have it feel as sincere as it did in 1987."

RELATED:Ice Cube, N.W.A, Eazy-E And EPMD Albums Re-Released As Part Of "Respect The Classics" Campaign

14 Comments

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • San Diego Negro

    How are you not gonna put a video for "check out my demo" up? Song was cold This was my first hip hop purchase. Cassette too.

  • Anonymous

    You that was my joint back in the days son had big payback on deck all day everyday son

  • Anonymous

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  • Hoodgrown

    Check out the tec in the video. That wouldn't happen today.

  • eastcoast rap is dead

    Back when NYC was dope no those NYC faggots sounds like dirty south rappers or think its 1994 rapping over ouddating Premo productions

  • son of a sax

    Long story, short. The day this album came out, it was raining. Not only did I want this album, but I wanted to be the first to have it. So, I asked this cat named Slim to give me a ride the store. He was like cool. So we get back to his house and I was like, aight man. He was like, where you going?!?! I gotta get my copy. So he dubbed it. He's got the 89 Maxima and I got the walkman, singing my saab story. So, who you think got credit for breaking the new EPMD?!?! SMH

    • Anonymous

      AYE EPMD>>>>>>>>>>>>> NOBODYS SAFE CHUMP SO KEEP YA DOORS LOCKED JANE>>>

    • Anonymous

      Strictly business a classic off top but this one picked right up,dropped k la boss and got dj stratch. I think thats him on the inside cover with the trophy! I used to stare at the cover on end at that Benz and iroc z!! Strictly snappin' necks. ...hardcore EPMD shit!!@

    • son of a sax

      YES MAN!!! We all have a bag full of stories like that. OR when the parental sticker first came out and if you were under age. You had to wait outside the store for sumone to cop it for you. I had to go that route with Willie D first album. LOL!!!!

    • TeamLuxurious.com

      Classic story bro! Glad you shared it with us. Because one of the things I miss most about "the days of buying tapes and cds from the record stores" are stories like these. We all remember trying to be the first in our neighborhoods with the newest album. We all remembers the day we bought the album and the story of how we went to the store and got it lol.... Example: I remember when Dr. Dre Chronic 2001 came out and the Warehouse music store opened at midnight that night. Everybody and they mama was outside in line waiting to get that cd....It was over 200 people chillin in the parking lot, it was like a party!!!! #TheGoodOleDayz

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