Local Wire

EPMD @ Celebrity Theatre

It's tough being one of hip-hop's elder statesmen. Take Jay-Z's spot on the recent Kanye West single "Monster," for instance. It isn't that Jay's verse is terrible, but surrounded by Rick Ross, Kanye, and the unstoppable Nicki Minaj, Hova lacks vigor. Next to the other MCs, he comes across as an old dude shouting kids off his lawn Sure, Jay isn't old old, but he's sounding a lot like an institution. So consider the plight of EPMD, the East Coast duo of Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, who dropped their debut, Strictly Business, while Jay was still learning the ropes from Jaz-O and Big Daddy Kane. Best remembered for their '92 hit "Crossover," which ironically railed at concessions to the pop music format over hip-hop roots, they reunited for We Mean Business in 2008. Happily, the record didn't overreach, playing to the duo's classic strengths. While EPMD haven't taken back the airwaves just yet, they serve as a solid reminder that it's possible, however unlikely, to retain some vitality (without starring in children's movies) as you enter your gray years. That's a message I'm hoping Hot Sauce Committee confirms once those other older dudes, The Beastie Boys, get around to dropping it.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.