I remember first hearing Brand Nubian's sophomore album "In God We Trust" and being blown away by the beats and rhymes - matter of fact this was my first introduction to Brand Nubian. Sure as a white guy, it took some critical thinking to truly get past some of the more outrageous things said, but once I understood that it's not all a matter of black and white (though it of course plays a big part), I started understand the incredible chemistry, production and lyrical onslaught that these two guys possessed. At the time the group only consisted of Lord Jamar and Sadat X with DJ Sincere, as Alamo and Grand Puba had fled after the group's other members felt they were underepresented on their classic debut "One For All" - which they definitely were; while Puba was on 14 out of 16 songs, the other two members where on about half of that. "One For All" was like a Grand Puba album guest starring two of his protogés on a bunch of tracks - ultimately, Jamar and Derric X (as we called then) received one solo track each, but out of the 16 songs on the CD edition, no less than 7 of them were Grand Puba solo joints in all but name.
While the entire group all were heavily indoctrined in 5% ideology Puba had always been the fun-loving, laid back super slick rhymer, Derric X was the introspective MC who touched upon the perils of his and people in his personal lives, while Lord Jamar was the most political outspoken (and remains so to this day). So when Grand Puba went, many people thought the group would just fizzle out. Hell no, was the response of the remaining memebers, creating an album almost as a revenge to show that they could do it with or without the veteran Masters Of Ceremony almuni. The first hting they needed were a good producer, as Grand Puba had produced nearly all of the debut, with a few notable exceptions - three tracks was laced by Dante Ross' production team the SD50's and Dante was still with them as managerss by the time of "In God We Trust") and the song "Ragtime" was produced by Skeff Anselm, a regular alumni at Jazzy J's infamous studio where countless Hip Hop classics were created back in those day. Oh and Dave Hall produced that horrible New Jack Swing track "Try To Do Me". Speaking on the creation of the album with Unkut.com, Jamar told a no-names-given story of how it was decided that one of the producers who had worked briefly on the first record. In Jamar's word this producer kind of looked down on these two young artists, and demanded an incredible high price for each beat which would totally fuck up the budget. The producer wasn't called out by name, but it's pretty easy to figure out that it was Skeff Anslem considering that Dante Ross and SD50's was sitll involved in the making of the later albums (although in a background capacity).
Instead Lord Jamar picked up a dusty SP1200, and a long with the record collection between the trio and their families, asked Dante Ross and some of the engineers to show him the ropes (although it's clear that he took a keen interest in the process already on the first album). The result was a much less polished album, one with all the roughness and grittiness of someone relatively new to production, but you couldn't deny the talent as Lord Jamar clearly had an ear for hot samples and the result was a much darker and more militant album than the first one. "In God We Trust" is a straight-up militant hardcore album, from the accoustic bass heavy boom bap opening of "Allah U Akbar" to the Diamond D produced Rocky sampling all-time classic "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down" (i'm personally a huge fan of the album version while many dismiss it in favor of the single remix): and this was reflected in both the lyrics and production. Whereas "One For All" had plenty of 5% idelology it was balanced out with some fun tracks and some less-serious party anthems, whereas "In God We Trust" was Sadat X and Lord Jamar getting straight up in your face with their beliefs over earth shattering beats. It was an unexpected success amongst true heads for sure.
In 1994 the trio (with DJ Science) released the critically (severely) misunderstood "Everything is Everything" which to my ears is even better - a dividing album that is in some circles cited as the worst Brand Nubian album of all time, and in some circles as the absolute illest. To me it's closer to the latter; save for a song by Buckwild, Lord Jamar again handles all the beat making and it's now evident that he really got a grip of how to really produce sick records. The material and mixing is slicker, and there's a brilliant strangeness in the sample choices from unexpected sources such as The Average White Band, Simply Red and The Fuzz along with more typical sample stapes of the time like Lou Donaldson, George Benson and Luther Ingram.Not to mention the Simply Red sampling/covered single "Holdin' On", which has caught some hate but which I always loved. The group reuinted with Puba and released "The Foundation" in 1998 (a very good album but not as coherrent as the predecessors, despite having D.I.T.C. and DJ Premier on board), and later a forgettable LP called "Fire in the Hole". Oh and don't forget to check out his one and only solo album, "The 5% Album", featuring guest and production from Preservation, Bronze Nazareth and several Wu-Tang Clan alumni.
I've been wanting to make a compilation of Lord Jamar material and the main reason is that these youngings don't know how dope this guy really. They know him from fucking DJ Vlad's BS gossip interviews that NEVER focuses on music (doens't matter who he's talking to) - it's like the TMZ of Hip Hop - and guess what Vlad is on record saying stuff that Nas only has one good album, not any songs that could rival "New York State Of Mind", and that the best hip-hop single in the last 10 years or so happens to be "Lollipop" by Lil' Wayne. So for the sake of Hip Hop, a compilation like this is much needed to give Lord Jamar his proper credit. The album focus mostly on Jamar's excellent prodction work throughout the late '90s for acts like Shabazz The Disciple, dead prez, Red Foxx and UGK, intersperesed with some fine guest apperances. The compilation is bookended by two of my favorite Jamar focused joints on "Everything...", something I rarely do but these two tracks are just too good and as I know a lot of people are hesitant to give this even a chance I think it works well in the context. "Return Of The Dread" is a perfect opener as it's a Jamar solo tracks and discusses beats that's pancake fat - how could you go wrong with that. The final song, "Claimin' I'm A Criminal" is not only one of the Nu's best songs but one of the more heartfelt hip-hop joints of all time... So withour further due, download, press play, and enjoy "The Devil & His Couch" and turn that militant shit way up brothers and trusted readers.
01. Brand Nubian - "Return Of The Dread"
02. Daddy Dogg Ft. Dead Prez - "Bluesanova" [Dead Prez Remix]
03. Artifacts Ft. Lord Finesse & Lord Jamar - "Collaborations Of Mics"
04. Shabazz The Disciple - "Prelude to Pestilence" (Interlude)
05. Shabazz The Disciple - "Street Parables" (Ft. Lord Jamar)
06. Dead Prez - "Propaganda"
07. Kool G Rap Ft. Lord Jamar & Talib Kweli - "Oz Thme 2000"
08. Sadat X Ft. Brand Nubian - "The Lump Lump" [Nubian Mix]
09. Shabazz The Disciple - "The Link..." (Interlude)
10. Shabazz The Disciple - "Organized Rhyme Pt. II"
11. Red Foxx - "What The Girls Want" [Raggamuffin Hip Hop Mix]
11. UGK Ft. Keith Murray & Lord Jamar - "Live Wires Connect"
13. Brand Nubian - "Lick Dem Muthafuckas" [OG Mix]
14. Dead Prez - "The Pistol"
15. Lord Jamar - "The Sun"
16. Brand Nubian - "Claimin' Im A Criminal"
All tracks produced by Lord Jamar except:
03 prod. by Lord Finesse, 07 prod. by Domingo, 08 prod. by Buckwild
LORD JAMAR - "ON THE DEVIL'S COUCH"