Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brand Nubian - In God We Trust (1993)

If you like the first Brand Nubian record, you'll probably hate this one. That one had party raps and fun jams, this one is serious; full of Nation of Islam imagery, Five-Percent ideology, Black empowerment and knowledge dropping left and right. If 1990's One For All was Grand Puba's coming out party (it had those "bitches and blunts" songs but was still politically charged and socially conscious), then consider this record Sadat X exerting his emerging influence over the group (Elijah Muhammad voice-overs, abrasive and anti-Semitic at times; anti-homosexual, anti-pork, anti-white, etc). Puba was more or less forced out of Brand Nubian before the recording of this album, so Lord Jamar would see more work on the mic, plus- he agreed with Sadat.

While Sadat X's protest jams can seem bloated and offensive, they serve as an important indicator to what was going on in the African-American community in the early-1990's. The Nation of Gods and Earths (also known as the Five Percenters) were an offshoot of the Nation of Islam, and seen as extreme and radical in its teachings (hence the anti- stance above on many issues). Many young black men sought refuge here from the negative things around them in the ghetto; and Brand Nubian considered themselves adherents to the teachings. Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Trenton's Poor Righteous Teachers and most notably the Wu-Tang Clan would also feature Five Percenter ideas in their music.

While I don't agree with some of the things that are said on this record, the views of Brand Nubian are taken as a history lesson (I consider myself both a fan of and an academic music appreciator) of what it was like in their part of the world almost 20 years ago. Controversy aside, the positive things on this album outweigh the negative, plus the music is so damn funky.

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