Erick Sermon earned gold plaques with every EPMD album in the late '80s and early '90s. Since going solo in 1994, however, he has yet to see any shiny stuff. Although he's enjoyed a few modest hits in the past five years -- most notably, 2001's "Music" and 2002's "React" -- none of those cuts has translated into album sales.
On Chilltown, New York, Sermon's Universal Motown debut, his production skills are as slick as ever. Cuts like "C.T.N.Y.," "Wit Ees" and "Street Hop" are classic examples of his penchant for bass-heavy, neck-snappin' beats. Lyrically, Sermon still isn't on par with most of the lyrical masters of his era, but he gets the point across. On the first single, "Relentless," he squashes the rumors -- that he's gay and that he fell/jumped out of a third-story apartment window -- that have plagued him.
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Elsewhere on Chilltown, Sermon wisely enlists the talents of Talib Kweli, Redman, Keith Murray, Sy Scott and newcomers Whip Montez, Khari and 11/29 to help offset his underachieving lyrical abilities. And the single, "Feel It," featuring Sean Paul, serves its purpose as a head-nodding club hit. With Chilltown, Sermon just might get that precious metal that's eluded him for the past ten years.