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

Erick Sermon “Hittin' Switches” (1993)



Album: Who's The Man? (Soundtrack)/No Pressure
Label: Def Jam
Producer: Erick Sermon

Erick Sermon: “Aww, man. I was in Atlanta, Georgia. I moved down there after the [EPMD] break-up. I was so happy at that time. EPMD was in shambles, with the break-up. I had a very rough last two years with EPMD.

“It was personal stuff. We had blew so fast, stuff was moving so fast, and the business wasn't right. But when it was over, and I moved to Georgia, it was like a whole body came off of me. So much pressure [was now gone].

 

Puffy was a dumb fan of EPMD. Even now to this day. Clark Kent told Mase, 'You gotta be Erick Sermon.' Mase lisp was strong, but he told him to make it stronger. Puff told Mase too, 'You gotta sound like this.' There's no secrets, man.

 

“I went there to chill. I met some dudes, and a couple of girls, and chilled out for a while. And my boy took me by Dallas Austin's studio. And Dallas was like, 'Yo, you're not leaving here.' And Darp Studios is one of the most famous studios in Georgia.

"He was like, 'You can have Studio B.' He didn't know me from Adam. He just knew me as Erick. And it was just the fact that Erick Sermon was in his studio. He was elated. But he didn't say that many words. He was like, 'Give Erick Studio B.' And that was it.

“So I was in there having a good time. I was free, the whole nine. Then Puffy called me for the movie. Who's The Man? was his soundtrack. Because Puffy was a dumb fan of EPMD. Even now to this day. Clark Kent told Mase, 'You gotta be Erick Sermon.' Mase lisp was strong, but he told him to make it stronger. Puff told Mase too, 'You gotta sound like this.' There's no secrets, man.

The Chronichad came out. That was my East coast version. And I used the metaphor of 'Hittin' Switches.' Even though it was meant for the cars, I meant it in a metaphor way. Like, 'Off and on, off and on, it's on.' Something that you do. But people thought it was about the cars maybe. But that's fine.

 

Biggie Smalls was a big Erick Sermon fan. Even in the last interview for Rap Pages, they were like, 'So, who do you want to be like?' And he was like, 'I like Erick Sermon. I like how he move.'

 

“Then Russell [Simmons] called me. Again, Def Jam needed some material. He said, 'Yo, you wanna do an album?' And maybe that was from 'Hittin' Switches,' because 'Hittin' Switches' was big. It was my [first] solo. People were like, 'Okay, there goes one verse from Erick. There's another one.' They didn't know [at first that] it wasn't an EPMD record. And Def Jam needed product flow. They knew, at the time, that I was the one producing.

“I was making songs in Atlanta, but I was real comfortable. So my songs were coming out too comfortable. I wasn't Erick Sermon of EPMD or E Double, I was somebody else. And Redman came down and said, 'Yo, your songs are okay, man. But they're missing something.' I owe Redman a lot for 'Hittin' Switches.' Because when he said that, I came back and became E Dub. And Puff was like, '[It's a] single. Let's go.' Automatically.

“The video was shot by Puff and Hype Williams, and it was Hype's second video. And Biggie Smalls was there the whole time watching me. Biggie Smalls was a big Erick Sermon fan. Even in the last interview for Rap Pages, they were like, 'So, who do you want to be like?' And he was like, 'I like Erick Sermon. I like how he move.'

 

Tracey Waples, who used to work at Def Jam, called me one time like, Biggie Smalls is trying to get on your album.' I'm like, 'Tracey, I don't even know the kid.' So he called Puffy and was like, 'Yo, can you please get me on that Erick Sermon album?'

 

“So the greatest rapper of all time is sitting there watching me. Tracey Waples, who used to work at Def Jam, called me one time and was like, Biggie Smalls is trying to get on your album.' You know, No Pressure. And I'm like, 'Tracey, I don't even know the kid.' So he called Puffy and was like, 'Yo, can you please get me on that Erick Sermon album?'

“But I had a kid named Joe Sinistr, who was Jam Master Jay's artist that Redman told me about. He was like, 'I got this kid, and I'm not saying he's me, but he's crazy.' Reggie didn't hate.

"I called up Jay like, 'Who's this kid Joe?' Met him the next day, and put him in the studio that night, and we made 'Payback II.' I had Redman, Keith Murray. I didn't need anyone else.

“Oh my God, you know how many times I think about [what it would have been like if I had Biggie on my album?] But you don't know. You just don't.”

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