Review Summary: A great mesh between the groups partners matched with fresh beats makes for an incredibly fun and classic hip-hop record that any fan of the genre can enjoy.
Let me start off this review by admitting that Unfinished Business is not EPMD’s best album. I would grant that honor to their mainstream debut, Strictly Business. And I find the title of the album to be brutally appropriate: Strictly Business is just that, strictly business on the record from front to back, bars and beats that make any classic hip hop fan drool.
Yet, while I admit that Strictly Business is technically the better album, Unfinished Business will always be, to me, the more classic, fun, and time tested record.
*Note: This is a very brief overview of Unfinished Business, and is more of an explanation as to why I think it is a classic album. I noticed that the record lacked a review and figured I'd put something out there. This is in no way a comprehensive review.*
An often forgotten group from the time of hip-hop’s rise, EPMD were stylistically a bit ahead of their time, not quite fitting their own era, and simultaneously technically falling short of those who followed them in the 90’s.
If you’ve read my review for Masta Ace’s Disposable Arts, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for music that’s full of passion. And while Unfinished Business doesn’t have that same from-the-bottom-of-my-heart type of passion that The Black Album and Disposable Arts have, it’s undeniable the immense amount of sheer fun that Erick and Parrish have on this record.
I want to start off with Erick Sermon’s delivery. There have been a fair number of rappers with speech impediments, but none have embraced and utilized theirs like Sermon does. Every lyric is delivered with a certain swagger that is unmatched, and that stems from Sermon’s flow, which maximizes his lisp to its’ fullest extent. The lyrics themselves are also especially fun, and everything about Erick’s raps - from the delivery to the content - perfectly complements his partner's.
That partner is Parrish, who comes onto this record just as fiery and passionate as ever. Parrish’s verses have a certain level of seriousness to them that Erick’s lack - while Erick’s verses are fun, loose, and full of spit, Parrish’s are concise, punchy, and hot. The contrast between the members styles is an extreme high of this record.
Next up is the storytelling. Going back to the fun that these dudes have on the album, they LOVE to tell tales. Pretty much every track delivers a fun story in an entertaining way, Erick and Parrish bouncing lines off each other as they break down their latest exploits. Whether it’s seducing women, smelly bottoms, or signing deals, you can guarantee that every track on Unfinished Business has something to offer. And when the guys aren’t telling a story, they’re making dollars, just gloating and rapping it up as they do.
Finally, are the fun sampled beats. Utilizing funk and rock samples to back their rhymes, EPMD creates a fantastic vibe that refuses to let up throughout the record. The samples pull from a variety of sources, making for a great flow from one track to the next, and cause the projects one hour length to feel perfectly appropriate.
Unfinished Business has it all: flawless delivery, fantastic camaraderie, captivating storytelling, sick rhymes, and funky beats. And, to top it all off, is what I consider to be one of the most iconic hip-hop covers of all time. It perfectly matches the vibe of the record; just Erick and Parrish, posted up on their cars, decked out in matching fits while they mug at the camera, their name in beautiful baby blue and black behind them.
I wholeheartedly recommend this record to any old school hip-hop fan, and anyone who is simply looking for a new album to check out. While it lacks some of the technical polish of other albums from the era, there’s no denying the fun that this project brings. This record is definitely worth a listen, and is for me, a classic album.