Tale of the Tape | EPMD's "Symphony 2000" ft. Redman, Method Man & Lady Luck
“Symphony 2000” from EPMD’s 1999 album, ‘Out of Business.’
In hip hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs — which are generally referred to as “posse-cuts” — have become some of the most memorable in the genre’s history, as rap’s most legendary stars team up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans’ fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT presents: Tale of the Tape, our series in which we break down the greatest posse cuts of all-time and rank the verses from worst to first.
In our latest installment of the series, we’ll be revisiting “Symphony 2000” from EPMD’s 1999 album, Out of Business, which capped off the duo’s legendary run as one of the most respected and influential duos in rap. After ensuring their place within the pantheon of rap with the classic releases Strictly Business, Unfinished Business and Business Never Personal, Erick Sermon and Parrish split during the early ’90s amid internal turmoil. However, the pair eventually settled their differences and returned in 1997 with their fifth studio album, the aptly titled Back in Business, as well as the Def Squad’s 1998 album, El Nino.
The following year, EPMD doubled back with Out of Business, an album that saw the duo taking on the alias Millennium Ducats and working with the likes of Busta Rhymes, M.O.P., Agallah, and 215. However, the most noteworthy cut on the album is “Symphony 2000,” a Def Squad posse-cut that doubled as the album’s lead single and biggest hit. Featuring Redman, Method Man, and Lady Luck, the track was a hit, peaking at No. 28 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. Nearly two decades later, “Symphony 2000” is remembered as one of the last great moments from two of the most revered MCs to ever drop rhymes on wax.
Without further adieu, check out the ranking of the verses on “Symphony 2000” below.
5. Erick Sermon
In addition to providing the instrumental for the proceedings, EPMD member Erick Sermon also makes use of his rhyme skills on this selection. Kicking his verse off by boasting about his production prowess, The Green-Eyed Bandit then uses the titles of songs from his rap peers for a lyrical scheme that captures the Long Island native’s aggression. Sermon’s performance has its moments, but ultimately earns him last-place honors.
Standout Lyrics: “YO! I get looks when I’m in the place/That’s that nigga, making you ‘Smile’ with Scarface/Uhh, ‘It Ain’t My Fault,’ that my style Silkk enough to Shock ya/Hit you with the fifth, block-a block-a/If I get caught you can bet I’ll blow trial/Be ‘Downtown Swingin,’ M.O.P. style.”
Tasked with setting things in motion with his introductory verse, EPMD rhyme pugilist Parrish Smith rises to the occasion with a set of bars that speak to his excellence. Known for his gruff musings and rugged demeanor, Parrish sticks to the script on this outing, which captures him attacking with an intensity that’s palpable. Calling out crab emcees while draped in the hottest brands in hip hop fashion, PMD forewarns rivals that no form of disrespect will be tolerated by the Squad — on wax or otherwise.
Standout Lyrics: “Remember me? You punk faggot crab emcee/Get your shit broke in half for fuckin around with P/Aiyyo strike two, my style Brooklyn like the Zoo/Hey you, look nigga, one more strike you through/Word is bi-dond, rock Esco, FUBU, and Phat Fi-darm/Every time I get my spit on, no doubt, I spark the gridiron.”
3. Lady Luck
In 1999, New Jersey native Lady Luck was fresh off inking a deal with Def Jam Records after the teenage phenom sparked intense bidding. For her first high-profile guest spot, Luck gave listeners a glimpse of what all the hype was about. Given the honor of closing out the song with the last verse, the raptress attacks the beat in relentless fashion, providing an explosive ending that stamped the newcomer as a potential star in the making.
Standout Lyrics: “When the guns spitting, duck or get hitting/It’s written, we in the game but ball different/Point game like Jordan, y’all play the role of Pippen/Style switching, like tight ass after sticking/MAN LISTEN, stop your crying and your bitching/Like E and P’s last CD, you’re out of business.”
2. Method Man
Months prior to releasing Blackout!, his debut collaborative album with Redman, Method Man joined EPMD, Lady Luck, and his partner-in-rhyme for a meeting of the minds on this classic posse-cut. Batting clean-up in this lineup, Method Man’s sinewy flow is put on full display, as the Shaolin monk floats over the track like a magic carpet. Proving to be a tough out, Meth’s rhyme spill is rife with personality and flair, but falls short of being the song’s most entertaining.
Standout Lyrics: “AIYYO! Dead that roach clip and spark another/Chickenhawks, playing theyselves like Parker Brothers/I rock for the low-class, from Locash/The broke-assed, even rock for trailer park trash/Yeah yeah, the God on your block like Godzilla/Yeah, yeah—she gave away my pussy I’mma kill her/John John phenom-enon/In Japan they call me Ichiban, Wu-Tang Clan, numba won!”
Known for his free-wheeling brand of lyricism, Redman spent the ’90s establishing himself as one of the premier feature artists in the rap game. Matching wits with the genre’s biggest names throughout the decade, his guest spots alongside Def Jam brethren EPMD account for some of the Brick City native’s most memorable. Lending his talents to the lead single from Erick and Parrish’s sixth studio album, the Funk Doc goes bonkers, turning in a quote-worthy stanza that reminds listeners that at his best, he’s one of the illest to ever do it.
Standout Lyrics: “Doc, walk Thin Red Lines to shell shock/Hairlock with fuckin broads in nail shops/Hydro? Got more bags than bellhops/Two thousand Benz on my eight by ten PICTURE/Papichu’, slaying crews in ICU/Battlin, using hockey rules/For Keith Murray, Doc gon’ cock these tools/Rolling down like dice in Yahtzee fool!”
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