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On the day of TV One’s Unsung episode on the historied EPMD, Parrish “PMD” Smith took some time for a short interview with The Source. We also had a chance to get into his opinion on where Hip Hop stands now in comparison to over 20 years ago and his tour plans.

So talk to me about how important this show is for you and EPMD.


The purpose of the Unsung is getting people up to speed on EPMD.

Yeah, it’s sad because a lot of the younger Hip Hop listeners may know a song or the sample used but not the groups or the history behind them.

That’s correct. Hence, Unsung (laughs). It’s for the cats that didn’t know.

What do you think needs to happen for that bridge to be gapped between the newer fans of Hip Hop to those who know the importance of Hip Hop as a culture and a vehicle for change?

That’s a great question. I think we need a lot better communication. If you go back to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and when Run DMC came in the next era, they had communication. Then with Big Daddy Kane, Eric B. and Rakim, and Slick Rick came in, and EPMD, there was great communication in the Golden Era. So there was some kind of break from 1992 to now and I just think that one element that Hip Hop is known for-knowledge and growing-is missing. We don’t have communication with the generation under us and I think that’s where we need to start working on and closing that gap-not bashing a new artist but working with them, understanding where they’re coming from, plus they know what they’re doing. They just need a little guidance we did.

Less beef, more love?

You hit it right on the head. Because in the Run DMC era, we was able to go on tour with Run DMC on Run’s House Tour, Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Public Enemy, EPMD, and Stetsasonic. You had different eras under one roof. And now in 2013 you don’t see that. And what happens is when we were on the Run DMC tour, we didn’t drop our first album technically until 1988. Now when you go to a tour, you go to see one big artist with supporting acts but the acts don’t have the same thing in common. Well they actually do, they get a lot of radio spins (laughs). A lot of what I hear all the time is, “You know what? EPMD has their set fans but because they were on the Run’s House tour.” People who would’ve never even heard of EPMD got introduced simply because Run DMC and Jam Master Jay invited us on their tour. Like grassroots. Hip Hop used to have the rapper with all of these different functions outside of just the performances and dropping an album.

Why do you think that Hip Hop is still not taught at our elementary schools, along with Jazz, Classical, and Rock?

I know (laughs). I know. Probably because of the art form and the light that it’s in, in music. One of the #1 things that recreates itself in many forms. So they won’t mention it, but they’ll use it.

Do you think that day will come though?

Well it’s in colleges now. It takes a little time. You know how it goes. It’s like we’re just seeing what the presidents from the 1940’s and 50’s did, now. Back then it looked one way but when you get here, it’s like, “Wow.” Hip Hop is not the norm. It’s what you feel.

And I heard that EPMD will be on the road once again to hit some major cities with that raw Hip Hop.

No question. Looking about summer time to hit the road. We have our set of different artists that we rock with within the Hit Squad.

So you keep it in the family when you travel?

No question.

Catch the Unsung episode on EPMD at 10PM EST tonight on TV One. And be on the lookout for a collaborative album with Sean Strange and the Snoowgoons, called Welcome To The Goondocks, on April 9th. Parrish’s solo collection, Handle Your Business, will also be released on May 5th.

Bryan Hahn (@notupstate)