“25 years ago today, Grand Puba, Sadat X, DJ Alamo & myself put out an album that would forever change our lives & the lives of those it resonated with, thank you all for the support over the years. Peace!” Lord Jamar (Facebook – Dec 4, 2015)
December 4th is great day in hip-hop, and will forever be remembered… While most will remember the date as the birthday of rapper Jay Z from his single, December 4th on 2003’s The Black Album, where it starts off with his mothers words…
“Sean Carter was born December 4th / Weighing in at 10 pounds 8 ounces / He was the last of my 4 children / The only one who didn’t give me any pain when I gave birth to him…”
Shout out to Jay Z, who celebrated his 46th birthday, Friday, but for my real hip-hop heads, that is not what we came here to talk about. You have to go back 13 years prior, to December 4, 1990 when the New Rochelle (Now Rule) legendary hip-hop group, Brand Nubian changed the game with the release of their inaugural long player, ALL FOR ONE!
Released on Elektra Records, this is one of the classic hip-hop gems you can still put in ya CD player and throw the remote across the room. That you can listen to ya mp3 player and never touch the skip or fast-forward buttons, cause unlike much of today’s music, this one right here you can actually listen to it straight through and then listen to it again, because, it is that good. Almost every track could have been a single!
A Source Magazine ‘Five Mic’ classic with production from Dante Ross, Skeff Anslem, Dave “Jam” Hall, the SD 50s (Stimulated Dummies). The Source Magazine‘s Record Report gave, All For One a perfect rating, stating, “overflows with creativity, originality, and straight-up talent. […] the type of record that captures a whole world of music, rhymes and vibes with a completely new style.”
ALL FOR ONE
One for all
Is all for one
One for all
Is all for one
Getting straight to it, on some we don’t need no intro tip, the fifth single and title track displays the group lyrical prowess over a pretty awesome instrumental containing no less than three James Brown samples, “Can Mind,” “All For One” and “Funky President (People It’s Bad),” Puba, Sadat and Jamar spit a verse a piece showing the power of three solo emcees coming together as the title suggest and each holding his own. Having fun, over a dope beat while dropping knowledge of self and teaching 5% Lesson without being preachy. This will forever be a hip-hop classic.
This has to be one of my all-time favorites and one of song that first come to mind when you hear the name, Brand Nubian, as well as possibly one of their biggest hit. The trio rides the Edie Brickell & the New Bohemian’s “What I Am”, sample nicely beat, warning the sistahs to “Slow Down.”
Who can forget Sadat’s verse. First up to bat with some of the most memorial words of the track…
Hey baby your hips was getting big
Now you’re getting thin you don’t care about your wig
Now Woolie Willie got a pair of my sneakers
Wonder where he got ’em cause I hid ’em behind my speakers
Damn it’s a shame you’re the mighty queen of vials
With a wide-eyed look and a rotten-toothed smile
Used to walk with a swagger, now you simply stagger
From one spot on to the next spot on to the next spot on to the next
And Jamar batting second, hits a solid double, like this…
Well, what you are is a stunt, man, you’re on a hunt
And your plan is to take all you can from a man and scram
I’ve seen your kind before you’re not original
Just a sick mixed up individual
Giving up the crotch for a fresh gold watch
Marking off the goods you get going up another notch
Your ways and actions are like those of a savage
If the price is right, then anyone can ravage
Even Monty Hall can have himself a ball if his assets are in order
What’s really scary is you’re somebody’s daughter
Once again, Puba delivers with the lyrics, hitting it out the park, kicking the best verse, batting clean up with a grandslam…
As the jewels jingle from the hot young and single little stunt
A forty and a blunt, that’s all she really wants
But she’ll spend your papes and she’ll use up all your plastic
And if you swing an Ep, you’d better wear a prophylactic
Cause things are getting drastic
Slide up in the wrong one you’ll end up in a casket
Honey got a problem with the bends
Meaning she likes to bend over, and then she spreads the skins
The ho is just ho and that’s without no controversy
She can make the bedsprings sing a song of mercy
Like I said just about every track on AFO could have been a single, but other stand out joints were “Ragtime”; “Wake Up (Reprise In The Sunshine)”; “To The Right”; “Concerto In X Minor” and I loved when Grand Puba teamed up with Positive K and LG over the Steve Arrington sample (Nobody can be you but you!) that was my joint right there. While the group was said to sell just over 400,000 copies of the album, it was most certainly platinum on the streets. Heavy bootleg presence in NYC, might have hurt sales and the achievement of a gold or platinum plaque, but it can’t take away from the album’s relevance as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever.
Waiting on a highly anticipated follow-up, fans were a little disappointed at first when Puba went solo and Jamar and Sadat continued on to record with the name, it just wasn’t the same. With Puba doing his thing with Masters Of The Ceremony earlier, few questioned his staying power but, Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down showed Sadat and Jamar could hold their own with out the Grand Man and that exactly what they did. Despite the fact both were successful, for years fans yearned for a reunion that we were teased about from time to time, but thought we would never see until, September 29, 1998, when they reunited for the group’s fourth album, Foundation, eight years later.
While it was a solid effort, and it was great to see and hear the brothers back together again, for most Brand Nubian fans and real hip-hop heads, AFO will always be that album. The joint that set it off and introduced the world to three dope emcees from Now Rule who kicked science and dropped jewels and lesson of the 5% Nation, over some of the dopest tracks for everyone to enjoy, no matter what you believed in spiritually, BN made feel good music you could vibe to. They weren’t the first Five Percenters to represent in hip-hop, but no one ever incorporated the elements of the Five Percent nation better to a beat, than Brand Nubian.
Much like Langston Hughes in the 1920’s and 30’s who accurately articulated the feel of the people during the day of the Harlem Renaissance, Brand Nubian extraordinarily, captured the soul of the people for the early 1990’s as well. They gave voice to the daily struggles of African-Americans with exciting and vibrant, Poetry for Young People, infusing the knowledge and wisdom of the 5% Nation, in their lyrical content and used the music composed of James Brown-sampled breakbeats and funky R&B loops, to attract young Black youth of that era to Black consciousness.
BW salutes BN on the 25th Anniversary of ALL FOR ONE
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.