Erick Sermon - Insomnia: The Erick Sermon Compilation Album
Well, well, well… sorry for digging too far in the crates but my pick isn’t on Spotify, iTunes, or Bandcamp. It’s up on YouTube in full though for all my streamers. Maybe we can just add a few 90s Sermon joints to the Spotify.
There’s a download link that you can find by clicking through onto this blog:
I’ve only recently been digging properly through all of Sermon’s 90s output because he was so prolific. I really got into him through the production on Dare Iz a Darkside (which is a classic) and this album feels like a direct relative of that sound - absolutely fat bass lines with punchy drums and the occasional melancholic, melodic, atmospheric instrumental touches and samples. He doesn’t often come up in discussions of best hip-hop producers, and he’s not as ubiquitous on the nostalgia touring circuit as, say, Pete Rock or DJ Premier, but for me his sound is deeply intrinsic to the rap music I have loved the most since my early teens. As a production showcase this album can’t be fukked with. With hindsight it does maybe seem a little one-note by the end, but whatever, when some of the beats in this drop I get the feels. It’s consistent through all of his 90s output.
I’m a sucker for an album that uses skits well. Often they seem tacked on, or like someone thought they were hilarious whilst stoned to the 12th degree, but here the Cherry Martinez / radio premise transforms this from being a random compilation to almost feeling like a posse album. That, as well as the various Redman and Keith Murray appearances outside of the two tracks they’re featured on. It captures the atmosphere of everyone being in it for the love of the culture and collaborating together.
Speaking of Redman, Funkorama is probably my favourite song of his of all time. The vibe in that song transports me to somewhere pretty special. Namely, being stoned and 17 in the park, or drinking a beer on the beach in the summer in the early evening, but to me there’s something almost transcendental about the production and the Q-Tip sample playing off the ethereal use of Aaron Hall in the chorus.
I also love that they censored any mention of the year on the album version but not ‘i’m just as high as three pilled up motherfuckers’. Took me a while to figure that out. Anyway.
The line-up is great - Redman, Keith and Erick of course, but I also like basically all of the artists on here. A definite shout out to the female MCs in Passion Worship Band and The DUO, always good to see some female rappers getting a voice in the 90s, and they kill it. I haven’t dug around on too many of these other artists; other than Jamal I’m not aware of any of them having solo LPs, but maybe they’re there to be discovered.
Anyway this album slaps just as hard for me now as it did when iI first heard it and I hope some of you like it too.
Also as one final disclaimer my recently reignited Erick Sermon adventures nearly had me dropping Shaq Fu: da Return in the album due to the various Def Squad involvements (as well a generally stellar line-up of contributors), but I couldn’t do that to you all. But here’s the Redman-produced / Keith Murray-featuring ‘Newark to C.I.’ which is one of my favourite beats of all time