Nu flows

Back in 1990, Grand Puba, Sadat X, Lord Jamar, and DJ Alamo united in New Rochelle, New York as Brand Nubian to craft One For All, an early hip-hop masterpiece driven by tight sampling, loose flows, and for better or worse, Five Percenter rhetoric.

After Puba bounced to pursue a solo career with DJ Alamo in tow, Brand Nubian added DJ Sincere to the mix and produced a pair of sketchy albums that centered more on "Whitey" than crafting memorable and coherent rhymes. It wasn't until 1998 that the original lineup reunited for Foundation, a Primo-blessed LP that critics acknowledged as their best work since One For All.

Brand Nubian's new Fire In The Hole picks up where Foundation left off in terms of toning down the rhetoric to produce quality beats with lyrics to match. Tracks like "Who Wanna Be A Star?," "Young Son," and "Still Livin' In The Ghetto" feature on-point production by Lord Jamar that recalls the era of pre-Kanye West hip-hop soul samples.

CD Spotlight

Fire in the hole
Brand Nubian
(Baby Grande)
Brand Nubian's trump card has always been Grand Puba, who in his prime was regarded as the most gifted emcee in the game. On the optimistic "Ooh Child," Puba checks in with a verse that captures the essence of Fire In The Hole: "Now why they so worried bout going to Mars/When there's a million Black seeds in Africa who's starved/Mad people over here keep losing their jobs/Half the hood in the ground and the rest behind." Unfortunately, Fire In The Hole falters where Brand Nubian traditionally has. Shots are taken at the usual easy targets, including crackheads, gays, and unfaithful shorties, but ultimately, the crew is able to rise above the hate to present an album that complements their best work.

M. Solis

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