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

Erick Sermon “Stay Real” (1993)



Album: No Pressure
Label: Def Jam
Producer: Erick Sermon

Erick Sermon: “'Hittin' Switches' did well, so I had to come back with a single. Russell was like, 'You gotta come back now.' So I'm in Atlanta, and I'm in the rim shop [that I owned], and 'Keep it Real' was going around. That was the new slang. So that was it.

“I went in the studio, and I had the drums for Dr. Dre's '187' from Sly and the Family Stone. I didn't know where Dre got that beat from, but I found it. And once I got the gist of the beat, I was like, 'Oh, I'm going in now. This is it.'

“I wasn't expecting the response from 'Hittin' Switches.' I was going hard on that. And then people thought I was dissing Parrish on the last line when I said, 'Back with the adventure, without Pee Wee Herman.' But it was a metaphor. But people thought it was a diss. So that boosted it way up. But no, [I wasn't dissing him].

 

I was going hard on that. And then people thought I was dissing Parrish on the last line when I said, 'Back with the adventure, without Pee Wee Herman.' But it was a metaphor. But people thought it was a diss. So that boosted it way up. But no, [I wasn't dissing him].

 

“'Stay Real' was what it was, because the slang was the new word, and the motto for that time. It was 'Crossover' part two, but 'Crossover' [had a different message.'] 'Stay Real' was more like, 'Stop faking. Keep it real in whatever you're doing.' 'Crossover' was like, 'Stop being pop.'

“And that blew. I sold so many records for Def Jam the first week on the No Pressure album. They couldn't believe it. Then right on top of my campaign, they signed Domino. And that messed me up. I was kickin' ass, and then they signed this Domino cat, and it [got in the way]. I was at 400,000 pieces. I was kickin' ass.

“People are always talking about me not being as successful as EPMD. But my records always sold. I know people aren't pulling them. But it wasn't like I didn't have it. I did as much as I could do without having my partner. I had big records. Every record I had had No. 1 singles on them.

“They say I didn't have as much success without [Parrish]. I be like, 'Who are they talking about? What are they looking at?' I'm the number one producer on the planet in hip-hop! Def Squad went No. 1. What success are you telling me that I didn't have?' I don't get it.”

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