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Fire In the Hole

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Album Review

Six years since Foundation, Brand Nubian settle on Babygrande — home of Canibus and Jean Grae — and return with Fire in the Hole. Lord Jamar and DJ Alamo remain on production duties, as ever, while Grand Puba chips in on one track. While plenty of MCs who thrived in the early '90s have attempted with great desperation to remain relevant, each member of this crew has remained true to himself, consistently refining the skills without hopelessly retracing old steps. Despite all the changes mainstream rap has gone through during the past several years, Brand Nubian have remained well outside of it all — and they still do here, 15 years on, with a fifth album that will sit proudly next to the previous four. Few will ever refer to this as a classic, though even fewer will ever think of this as a poor showing. Graying veterans of the golden age and younger hip-hop junkies should be pleased to hear that the group is still active and in such good form.


Formed: 1989 in New Rochelle, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Five Percent Nation of Islam was a popular inspiration for numerous thinking-man's rap groups during the early '90s, and Brand Nubian was arguably the finest of the more militant crop. Although they were strongly related to the Native Tongues posse in style and sound, they weren't technically members, and were less reserved about spotlighting their politics and religion. Their outspokenness led to controversy, on an even larger scale than similarly minded groups like the X-Clan or Poor Righteous...
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Fire In the Hole, Brand Nubian
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