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In God We Trust

Brand Nubian

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Album Review

When pre-album single "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down" was issued — along with its violence-laced video — it was clear that Brand Nubian would not be the same minus Grand Puba. It was a safe bet that In God We Trust wouldn't have attempted any new jack swing crossovers or tie-dyed imagery. Though the makeover is drastic, it is convincing, with Lord Jamar and Sadat X stepping up with some of the era's fiercest, most intense rhymes, a higher percentage of which referenced the likes of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Marcus Garvey, and self-defense by any means necessary. Multiple, indefensible homophobic taunts and the silly "Steal Ya 'Ho" aside (did they really think the use of the two words was so necessary?), In God We Trust is nearly faultless, packed with rumbling acoustic basslines, Jeep-rattling breakbeats, and rhymes written and delivered with a great deal of hunger and an equal amount of self-assuredness — as if to say, "No, Brand Nubian was never Grand Puba and a couple sidekicks." The Diamond D-produced "Punks" outshines everything else, but the group more than holds its own as a self-contained production team. Had a high-profile beat maker been responsible for "The Godz...," "Pass the Gat," or "Brand Nubian Rock the Set," they'd certainly be present in his or her highlight reel.

Biography

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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In God We Trust, Brand Nubian
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