If you're a 70s baby, born at the precipice of hip hop's own birth, experiencing its pubescence during your own teen years and maturing into adulthood during hip hop's Golden Era in the early 90s, then you should know well the effervescent force known in hip hop as Brand Nubian.
Brand Nubian was formed in 1989 in the New York suburb of New Rochelle. The original group consisted of four members: Grand Puba (born Maxwell Dixon), Sadat X (born Derek Murphy), Lord Jamar (born Lorenzo DeChalus), and DJ Alamo.
"We came out during hip hop's renaissance in the early 90s," Sadat X told Bed-Stuy Patch. "PUBA brought in me and Lord Jamar. We came together, made a track and it sounded good. And so we formed Brand Nubian."
If you are not familiar with the group or where they stood on hip hop's landscape, here's a quick hip hop history lesson: They were one of the formative rebel rousers of their genre and generation.
When it came to their music, they had the knack for making hits. And when it came to their lyrics, they weren't ones for holding their tongue.
Their lyrics fit well into the black social consciousness movement of the late-80's/early 90s, during which time they used hip hop as a platform to share their beliefs on politics and religion.
On their debut album, All for One (1999), they catapulted onto the music scene with bold, brash lyrics and catchy production. But their outspokenness sometimes led to controversy and a reluctance by their record label, Electra, to promote what they considered divisive rhetoric.
Ultimately, the uproar didn't really hurt Brand Nubian's career, in part because their sheer musicality made them so likable, regardless of their message. The group became best known at the time for the hit singles "All for One", "Slow Down" and "Wake Up," all of which received steady radio rotation.
When we came out, there was no Internet. So you had to be good at every performance, because your first impression was your last impression. -- Sadat X
In 1992, Grand Puba went solo and released his first independent project, Reel to Reel. Soon after, Lord Jamar and Sadat X joined with DJ Sincere and issued In God We Trust in 1993. It sold fairly well, just missing the Top-Ten on the R&B chart, and the single "Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down" got a moderately successful radio run through 1994, at around time the members began drifting apart.
In 1995, Sadat X briefly reunited with Grand Puba for "Play It Cool", a track on Puba's second solo album. In 1996, Sadat also released his solo debut, Wild Cowboys. Meanwhile, Lord Jamar, started producing and acting, eventually landing a recurring role on HBO's prison drama Oz.
In 1998, the group's four original members reunited. And although all of them, at different points, continue to pursue their own career paths, they have consistently worked in unison, booking performance and tours.
Brand Nubian will be performing at the Restoration Rocks concert on Saturday, October 6, a part of Bed-Stuy Alive's two-week-long schedule of activities. Sadat X, who now lives in Bed-Stuy, says that although the group has changed in many ways, for the past 15 years, they still put on a dynamic show, and they're looking forward to playing both their new and old music for their original fans.
"We're looking forward to seeing some of our original fans, because we've always had a strong fan base here in Brooklyn," said Sadat X, who is now 42. "We feel like we already did our thing for the kids back in the day. Our music today is more concerned with people that gotta pay their bills, gotta pick up their kids...
"What I'm gonna like is going to be different from what my 20-year-old daughter likes. I just feel performance-wise a lot of the hip hop artists are lacking. When we came out, there was no Internet. So you had to be good at every performance, because your first impression was your last impression.
"The kids now, their first impression is through a video. Now, you can make a million stories and have the kids believe it right from a video: If you wanna be a gangster rapper, you could be a gangster rapper right from your house.
"But I'm happy to be performing at Restoration Plaza in the heart of Bed-Stuy with MC Lyte, who is a very dear friend I know and love," said Sadat X.
Restoration Rocks starts at 12:00 p.m. and will be held outside of Restoration Plaza, located at 1368 Fulton Street.
"So, come on out, because Brand Nubian is up and running. You're gonna see a good stage show. Learn from this."