Erick Sermon is preparing to release his eighth solo album, Vernia. At Def Squad Studios in Long Island, the Green-Eyed Bandit extensively details his LP featuring Raekwon, N.O.R.E., Too Short, Devin The Dude, No Malice, Big K.R.I.T., Pharrell, Styles P, AZ, Shaquille O'Neal, Xzibit, and David Banner. Originally titled Go when first announced, E-Double explains at the top of the interview why he asked his fans for support and how the independent LP evolved to honor Erick's late grandmother and best friend.
The EPMD co-founder also reveals the premise behind several songs on the LP (23:00). However, Erick has an even louder message: yes, he's a legendary producer, but he wants all to recognize that he is just as groundbreaking on the microphone. In this conversation, Erick spits the bars from 2015's BET Hip Hop Awards Def Squad cypher with ease. Also from memory, he kicks a warning shot 2018 freestyle that demanded recognition for his microphone prowess. One of Rap's earliest double-threats does not believe he gets proper credit as an MC, and he has a bone to pick with those overlooking him (26:00).
Looking across his career, Erick breaks down how Rakim was his rhyme mentor, even if the Long Island neighbor may have been unaware. Sermon details Ra's slow flow as an inspiration to help him say dope, commanding rhymes with a lisp. Although E recalls the clash between Eric B. & Rakim and EPMD (32:00), he is candid about just how influential The God MC has been to him, as well as how the two crews put their rivalry to bed.
During this 45-minute interview, Erick also walks AFH TV through some of his historic collaborators, and artists that seemingly got away. At 16:00, Sermon details Craig Mack's final recordings, and why an upcoming album completes a 30-plus-year dream for the late MC. At 18:00, E recalls Redman's early co-sign of Rick Ross' MC skills, back when Rozay was a Def Squad family protege known as Teflon Da Don. At 20:00, E-Double remembers Biggie Small's desire to secure some Funk Lord production in the early days of Bad Boy. Biggie was one of many greats who wanted E's ear, a list that includes pre-fame Wu-Tang Clan, Ludacris, Game, and T.I. However, that was not the case for Nas. Around the same time as "Live At The Barbeque," Erick spent a day playing beats for the Queensbridge MC. However, he looks back with regret on what may have ultimately prevented him from securing a spot on Illmatic.
Erick updates Heads on four upcoming albums (35:00), which include a new LP from EPMD, long-awaited sequels by Redman and Keith Murray, and a star-studded album featuring some of Hip-Hop's greatest duos. Erick plays AFH snippets of his songs with Mobb Deep and Heltah Skeltah. He lists the all-star groups that will be a part of the Dynamic Duos project. E also addresses Redman's Muddy Waters Too delays and beams over Keith Murray's The Most Ugliest Thing album.
Erick Sermon has made Hip-Hop his business for more than 30 years. This conversation shows that the living legend still finds incredible pleasure in making music.