From the Bronx, New York, USA and led by Grand Puba (Maxwell Dixon, New Rochelle, New York, USA; ex-Masters Of Ceremony), Brand Nubians 1990 debut, One For All, was as cool, classy and unaffected as hip-hop comes. Joined by Lord Jamar (b. Lorenzo Dechelaus, 17 September 1968, New Rochelle, New York, USA), Derek X (b. Derrick Murphy, 29 December 1968, New Rochelle, New York, USA) and DJ Alamo (the latter two cousins), Pubas Muslim-influenced lyrics were backed by samples of James Brown and Roy Ayers, ensuring the musical backing was never less than interesting. In 1991, Puba left to go solo, taking DJ Alamo with him, but Brand Nubian elected to continue as a three-piece unit with the addition of DJ Sincere (and with Derek X now known as Sadat X). Their first album following his defection was In God We Trust, which focused on their intensely held beliefs with tracks such as The Meaning Of The 5%, Allah And Justice and Aint No Mystery. The album title referred to a significant element of 5% Nation (a sectarian branch of the Nation of Islam) doctrine. We represent ourselves as god, said Lord Jamar, and were not trusting any mystery in the sky to help us with what we have to do. When a religion teaches you to depend on something else instead of being self-sufficient, then that becomes the downfall of people. There were signs of a creative impasse on 1994s Everything Is Everything, a disappointingly unfocused and messy album, with laboured beats failing to raise the interest level. Sadat X released a solo album in 1996, before the original line-up regrouped for 1998s strong comeback album, Foundation, which featured collaborations with Busta Rhymes and Common.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.