Perhaps because EPMD is so ingrained into listeners' psyches, Erick Sermon has never been given a fair shake as a solo artist. While he has exerted every bit of his energy to carve out his own separate identity outside of the EPMD spectrum, it has really been to no avail. That is why the breakout hit "Music" could not have appeared at a more needed time for Sermon. After innocently fiddling around with some old, unreleased Marvin Gaye lyrics, Sermon ended up fashioning a perfect marriage of sampling with "Music," which ultimately spawned a renewed interest in the Green Eyed Bandit and led to his subsequent deal with J Records. Sermon's Music sounds like he realizes that he has only one life left (Lil Kim's sparse appearance on "Come Thru" is included merely for name-recognition only). Recalling his influential past, Sermon waxes longingly about his fame on "Genius E Dub" featuring Olivia (which includes another uninspired recycling of the Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love"). Yet, the script is then flipped on the gospel-tinged "The Sermon" (featuring R. Kelly), on which Sermon relays a feeling of abandonment and discloses how the phone stopped ringing when the hits dried up, though Sermon was sent stumbling to his corner for an eight count after the Erick Onassis debacle. Thanks to Music, this batch of music is the smelling salt that will enable this brother from the boondocks to make it out of his corner for another round.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Conaway
feat: Marvin Gaye
feat: Keith Murray