When the Long Island Music Hall of Fame’s founders established the organization in 2004, speeches like the ones EPMD’s Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith gave to accept their group’s induction were exactly what they had in mind.
Co-founder Jim Faith said the Hall of Fame wanted to change the belief that Long Island musicians had to say they were from Manhattan in order to be taken seriously or to be seen as cool. “We didn’t want to be known as just Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco,” Faith said. They wanted to showcase the area’s rich musical history as a way to inspire future musicians.
And both members of EPMD did just that.
“Long Island — sometimes I think we get overlooked when it comes to musical talent,” Sermon said. “Long Island is very special. It was special before we got into it. Hip-hop had Eric B & Rakim, EPMD, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Biz Markie, Keith Murray. . . . Hip-hop would be kind of empty without Long Island.”
All those successful hip-hop acts inspired EPMD. “Eric B & Rakim, which was about two or three exits from Erick and I,” Smith said, name-checking the pride of Wyandanch. “We were like, ‘OK, I guess Brentwood is next,' so we stepped up.”
The duo is best known for “Strictly Business,” the influential hip-hop album that celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. And in a way, that music was inspired by their decision to stay on Long Island.
“For EPMD, for us selling 10 million albums and to have two consecutive No. 1 albums before the group broke up, Long Island was something that made me be consistent in the game,” Sermon said. “We just had to be better because the city was screaming, ‘We are who this is and where hip-hop came from.’ Yeah, but you’re not better than us. Long Island had a different kind of swagger. Long Island is special.”
EPMD will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on Nov. 8 at The Space at Westbury along with indie-rockers Taking Back Sunday, singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb and “Brand New Key” singer-songwriter Melanie, “Aquashow” singer-songwriter Elliott Murphy; Sha Na Na frontman Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, and musician-producer Artie Kornfeld. The first LI Hired Gun recipients -- Tommy Byrnes, Billy Joel’s longtime guitarist, and jazz trumpeter Glenn Drewes -- will also be honored at the ceremony.
Tickets for the Nov. 8 induction gala are $75 to $150 through Ticketmaster and ticketmaster.com.