El-P Explains How EPMD Was A ‘Linchpin’ For His Work From Company Flow To Run The Jewels

In the latest episode of Fresh Pair, Just Blaze and Katty Customs show off a slickly designed pair of Nike Air Force 1s for veteran producer El-P of Company Flow and Run The Jewels. El-P, who was a mainstay of the 1990s New York underground scene and whose career saw a second life when he paired with Killer Mike for an an Adult Swim-sponsored collaboration nearly two decades after his debut with Co. Flow, also broke down one of his biggest musical influences: EPMD, the pioneer early ’90s rap duo comprised of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith.

“I grew up on them,” he explains. “I grew up on the whole Def Jam era. When I started a record label [Definitive Jux, aka Def Jux], it was an homage to them, which they didn’t that cute at the time. I think a lot of my production style and a lot of my influences came from what they were doing — not only just as rappers, but as a production outfit. If you came up on them, you have a particular sensibility in terms of what funk is and a grimy approach to [making beats].”

Just and El-P go on to reflect on how Erick Sermon’s early production style — sampling upbeat funk records and slowing them down — turned out to have such a lasting impact on hip-hop as a whole, helping to incept the “grimy” style of production that still echoes through rap instrumentals today. “EPMD could be credited [with]… the West Coast evolution, to some degree,” El-P theorized.

Watch the latest episode of Fresh Pair featuring El-P above.