Today is the 30th birthday of Lorenzo DeChalus, Lord Jamar of the
hip-hop group Brand Nubian, who came together in New Rochelle, N.Y.,
in 1990. Brand Nubian, with varying lineups, have been recording since
that year, taking the rap world by storm with the critically hailed
and popular One for All.
In addition to leader "Grand Puba" Maxwell Dixon (formerly of the Masters of
Ceremony) and Jamar, the group comprises Derrick "Sadat X"
Murphy and DJ Alamo. Brand Nubian's sound followed the eclectic, "daisy
age" hippie rap originated by De La Soul but added religious lyrics to the
Brand Nubian's jazz-funkish first album brought the band a great deal of
attention. An exciting mix of styles, the disc included "Slow Down,"
which sampled Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians' big hit, "What I Am."
The album also raised eyebrows because it featured teachings of the Five
Percent Nation, the Islam-based street religion that encourages its
members to live clean lifestyles and to take pride in themselves and
their heritage. The Five Percent Nation is controversial, since it
refers to the black man as "God" and white men as "devils."
After the album's success, Maxwell departed for a solo career and took DJ
Alamo with him. The success of Maxwell's albums Reel to Reel and
2000 left the future of Brand Nubian in doubt, but Jamar and Sadat
took the reins for 1992's In God We Trust, which was filled with
Islamic-themed tracks such as "Allah & Justice," "Allah U Akbar" and
"Meaning of the 5%."
Everything Is Everything (1994), featuring "Straight Off Da Head"
and "Word Is Bond," was lighter in tone and included the benevolent
"Hold On," a track that sampled the blue-eyed soul of Simply Red.
Although Brand Nubian purport to promote peace and self-reliance,
bandmembers have been known to make provocative statements. Jamar once
said: "We say that the white man is the devil, but there are black people
who are devils, too, and the worst devil is a black devil, because he's
The original members of Brand Nubian recently announced that they had
re-formed. Brand Nubian are scheduled to release Foundation, their
first album together since their debut, on Sept. 29. The disc will feature
appearances by Common on "Maybe One Day" and Busta Rhymes on "Let's
Dance." Tracks also include: "Shinin' Star," "The Beat Change," "Black on Black
Crime (Interlude)" and "I'm Black and I'm Proud."
Other birthdays: LaMonte McLemore (5th Dimension), 58; Fee Waybill (Tubes),
48; and Vinnie, a.k.a. Vincent Brown, (Naughty by Nature), 28.