Label: Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records

There were rumblings of a rivalry between Rakim and EPMD after Strictly Business dropped in '88 but, really? Rakim was the God MC. Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith were two regular guys who used their government names to rap about things like which six pack to buy, Miller or Stroh’s. And therein lay the appeal of Strictly Business, an album that perfected the art of rhyming about nothing, two decades before Wale decided to make a mixtape with that theme.

What they lacked in lyrical depth, Erick and Parrish made up for with sonic foresight. Strictly Business’ deeply funky, hard-hitting beats helped steer hip-hop away from an over-reliance on James Brown breaks and into the car.

On 231, the popular Long Island drag racing strip separating Rakim's hometown of Wyandanch from EPMD's Brentwood turf, you couldn't miss the subwoofer-friendly sounds of "You Gots To Chill" (the first rap song of note to use Zapp's supreme "More Bounce to the Ounce" groove) and "It's My Thing" booming out of custom Camaros and Jeeps, foreshadowing developments soon to occur in L.A. and the South.