Erick Sermon Tells All: The Stories Behind His Classic Records (Part 1)

EPMD f/ Redman and K-Solo “Headbanger” (1992)



Album: Business Never Personal
Label: Def Jam/Columbia
Producer: EPMD

Erick Sermon: “I made 'Headbanger' for Ice Cube [who was my friend]. But I never got it to him. I never got the chance to give it to him. That was the last song before 'Crossover' was made.

“We were in the studio one day, and we needed a crew record. So I threw the beat on. And we started yelling. The session just went that way. The beat made you amped. I was just so aggressive. I was thinking about The Bomb Squad when I made that record.

“We had it set up like a Tempations thing, with the four mics set up. Just screaming. It was hard to EQ that record because you had the leakage [from one microphone to the others] like back in the day. But we did it that way, and it came out fine. [Performing the vocals live together] made it very exciting.

 

Wu-Tang said, 'We got our style from The Hit Squad.' Raekwon is on record [saying that]. 'We gotta be like them.' We were the first ones. We didn't have a format or blueprint for crews. There would be no crews [without The Hit Squad]. We gave a format for what a crew should look like. This was a crew of MCs who won, who were successful. There would be no Bad Boy, no Wu-Tang, none of that. They had to have a blueprint to look at, and we were it.

 

“That studio's not there anymore, Dave's Rockin' Reel. But we thought the album was done because we thought we had the single before 'Crossover,' so we recorded that and just wilded out, thinking it was our last record. I don't know where that came from. We were just yelling, and thinking about Onyx too [who was hot at the time].

“Russell and them [wanted to put that out as a single]. That record was huge. Because once the album came out, that was the record that was picked up. Plus, it was Redman. Reggie was the excitement. His 'Headbanger' verse was like, 'Yo, who is that?!?'

“Don't forget, 'Headbanger' came out, and then the teaser for 'Hardcore' came out after to promote Whut? Thee Album. 'Headbanger' was the first time that people really knew him [because 'Hardcore' was on Business As Usual but it wasn't a single so not everyone knew about it].

“And that [ushered in] that whole new era. Wu-Tang said, 'We got our style from The Hit Squad.' Raekwon is on record [saying that]. 'We gotta be like them.' We were the first ones. We didn't have a format or blueprint for crews. There would be no crews [without The Hit Squad].

“We gave a format for what a crew should look like. This was a crew of MCs who won, who were successful. There would be no Bad Boy, no Wu-Tang, none of that. They had to have a blueprint to look at, and we were it.

“And it was by accident. We liked how K-Solo sounded, like, 'Who the fuck is doing this spelling shit? This is crazy.' We signed Das EFX, because we heard that, 'Riggedy...' and were like, 'This is crazy.' Look at the techniques they had. Nobody sounded like them. Das EFX changed the landscape of music, from Kriss Kross to Wreckx-n-Effect. Heavy D, Jay-Z, everybody tried it. Even Cube was like, 'Chiggedy check yourself before you wreck yourself.'”

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