Erick Sermon’s been putting in work as a hip-hop headliner for a quarter century now. It all started in 1987, when the legendary Brentwood, Long Island duo EPMD dropped their first single, “It’s My Thing” b/w “You’re A Customer.” The E-R-I-C-K has been getting busy with the beats and rhymes ever since. EPMD released four chart-crushing albums together and a slew of hit singles (including their biggest smash “Crossover”) before splitting up in 1992. But the break-up didn’t stop Erick Sermon’s rampage.

Embracing his solo status, Sermon began working heavily with his Def Squad brothers Redman and Keith Murray, creating some of the most indelible rap tracks of the ’90s like “Time 4 Sum Aksion” and “The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World,” which led to celebrated careers for both artists. Sermon’s own releases were banging too, showcasing his East coast funk style on songs like “Hittin’ Switches” and “Stay Real.”

Amidst all the hype surrounding the recent Hit Squad reunion concert at New York City’s Best Buy Theater, not to mention the buzz of his newly released Breath Of Fresh Air mixtape, E Dub invited Complex to his home studio on Long Island to break down the stories behind his classic records—from the EPMD era to the first time he heard Redman and Keith Murray rap. Let’s get down to business.

As told to Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)