It’s been a rough week for fans of ’90s hip-hop. First came Tuesday’s news that Heavy D had died after collapsing on the sidewalk outside his Beverly Hills home. Then over the weekend, Twitter lit up with the news that 42-year-old Erick Sermon, one half of the groundbreaking duo EPMD, had suffered a heart attack.
According to a report Sunday from GlobalGrind, Sermon will be undergoing tests over the next two days and hopes to be home by Wednesday. His direct quote is “I’m Good.” The initial news of his heart attack prompted a flurry of well wishes from supporters and his musical colleages, including Russell Simmons, Chef Raekwon and Questlove.
Though intensely prolific throughout the late ’80s and ’90s, Sermon has lain low of late. His last EPMD album was in 2008, and his last solo record was released in 2004. Though best remembered for EPMD smashes “You Gots to Chill,” “Crossover” and “Gold Digger,” Sermon also has had a storied career as a solo artist and outside producer. He’s responsible for a few of Redman’s hits, alongside classic cuts from LL Cool J, Too Short, Method Man and even Shaquille O’ Neal (though those weren’t quite classics.)
A master of the funk on a level with that of Dr. Dre, Roger Troutman and his hero George Clinton, Sermon is widely considered one of the most influential producers in hip-hop history. In fact, on a recent rundown of the greatest producers of all-time (via my Passion of the Weiss blog), Sermon placed 31st. Writer J. Ben Leonard noted that “in the late ’80s, a time when most beatmakers were scrambling to unearth every last break out of James Brown’s discography, Sermon pushed the envelope by pushing the tempo down, eschewing dance-friendly breakbeats for a chunky soup of trunk-rattling bass melted over the digitized grooves of Zapp and Parliament… His omnipotence from roughly ’92 through ’95 was virtually unmatched.”
With the news that he’s doing better, the distraught can finally chill.