brand nubian TRUE AND LIVING
The second coming of the Gods demarks time & space with the resurrection of positivity in Hip Hop. It seems like oh-so-long-ago when the four man unit known as "The God Squad" to fellow 5%'ers, united to put down a Hip Hop Classic in All For One. But that was almost 10 years ago. Forget History, the memory of most kids nowadays is shorter than an MTV video! Which is why Puba, Lord Jamar, Sadat X and DJ Alamo possess something as rare in the Underworld as titanium. Fuck Gold & Platinum, the return of Brand Nubian marks the return of Truth & Rights for a lost-found Nation. These principles combined with the right Ways and Actions, are worth more than all the precious metals on the planet. Fire on the brain is what the Earth Gods lay down as the Foundation for which future generations may find Peace of mind and nourishment for their Souls. As above- so below, they did it before- now they're back to give ya some more!

KRONICK: On our previous conversation and feature, one of the things that we got to discuss was the reunion. That was about three years ago and now today it's a reality. What have you Brothas been up to in between time, up to now?

JAMAR: We just been workin' on gettin' Foundation right. Basically we been workin' on this for like, 2 or 3 years. Since then we been workin', tryin' to get it down right; it's been a solid two years from the point when we spoke about the reunion, from getting demos out to signing with Arista in late `97. From then `til now we've been working of Foundation.

KRONICK: What happenned with the other label?

JAMAR: We had to get offa there. That wasn't the right place for us so we had to take steps in order to get up offa there, to help make sure our careers kept goin'. Shit went bad over there; our shit woulda been on the shelf over there.

KRONICK: It seemed like though, from the inception of your former label fuckin' with Hip Hop, that you guys were one of their mainstay acts for so many years. And now it seems like that label has crossed into almost a commercial zone with Hip Hop. It just seemed like you guys were the end of an era over there. So what about the new label and this project? How do you guys feel about the reception over here, thus far?

SADAT: It's good, but we're still trying to feel each other out on both sides. Sometimes there's kinks, but you work those out. It's still a learning process. We only really been gettin' down with the new label for a solid year-plus now. So we really don't know everything about them and they don't know everything about us.

JAMAR: Word.

SADAT: So we're still learning with each other and kinda progress from there.

JAMAR: At Arista, we're the first Rap project comin' off the label direct. We not on Bad Boy or La Face or Profile, so they're used to projects bein' presented to them with additional help thru the independent labels. But they should have a format, and I think they somewhat have the format down. But as comin' thru direct, Arista as a label has to put in that extra hump to make it happen for us; bein' that we're directly on Arista.

KRONICK: When you guys look at the Underground in terms of Hip Hop today; bein' that you've been Underground Champions for so many years in terms of street respect and credibility, do you see any changes that are problematic with the business of the industry and the whole scene today as far as commercialization goes?

JAMAR: There's always gonna be advantages and disadvantages in everything in this life. With the commercial shit, the disadvantage is that a lotta quality talented artists sometimes don't get heard. But the more stylish, marketable artists do. So that's a disadvantage that I see. But at the same time, I think the Real shit always wins in the end. So we just gotta come with that shit and eventually our shit'll break thru on it's own.

ALAMO: When the smoke clears! `Cause right now a lotta shit is based on hype, to me.

KRONICK: Right! And you touched it exactly, `cause that's what I was gettin' at as the whole point!

ALAMO: Yea when the hype comes; the hype is like, you got a good start-up promotion the way they promote your shit. You can come on a good road from bein' on other people's shit, and shine. And then by the time your shit come out, the hype-wave created is so strong that muh'fuckas is rushin'! Just circlin' the store to get your shit!! But when the smoke clears, the true talent shows. Like nowadays, muh'fuckas is gettin' down with... It's like an alliance thing where a solo artist muh'fucka may do three songs on a whole album of 12 or 14 songs. And the rest is features an' shit. So like I said, when the smoke clears it boils down to how solid your own shit is from A to Z.

KRONICK: Do you guys ever get tired of the whole "Critically Acclaimed" thing? Like the critics love you, and the Underground street people love you... But then it seems like maybe something might be missing terms of at the retail sales department accross the counter. Like you get awards and recognition, but not really the rewards.

SADAT: Sometimes it's frustration `cause you feel like, "I know our stuff is a lot better than some of the stuff out there, and it's not getting the proper respect I feel that it should get." A lotta times you do feel frustrations. But then you think about why you doin' this, from the beginnin'. And you just keep on doin' it and do the best, make the best out of what we do. We know we got people that's behind us, and we behind ourselves. As long as we know that, we gon' always be here.

KRONICK: What has the reception been like with the reunion vibe in the Tri-State area when you guys go out there live?

JAMAR: Well, whenever we perform live it's always strong. It's always when we "Do that Nubian Shit".

KRONICK: Well, how is it when you go outside the Tri-State area?

JAMAR: Sometimes it's even better because, I don't know. In New York everybody is an MC, or everybody is...

SADAT: The New York crowd is a hard fuckin' audience!

ALAMO: Everybody's a critic or some shit. We still rip New York, though! But outside New York, people just wanna have fun an' shit; and wanna see a good show. So it be even hype-er sometimes outside of New York.

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KRONICK: How did you feel about the return to L.A. for all four of you guys recently at the House of Blues? I know it was the first time in a long time!

JAMAR: Excellent! Naamean, excellent! L.A. is great, Man!

KRONICK: Yea, you guys nearly tore down the House of Blues that night. The whole place was shakin' like an earthquake!

SADAT: There's a lotta people out there that ain't never seen us all together before, so that was good to let everyone that has and especially the ones that hadn't seen us before, to see us all together like that.

JAMAR: Man, we did so many shows everywhere. But as far as us all together, a lotta people haven't seen that. And that's why it's still fresh, it's still new.

KRONICK: Since you guys have gotten back together, what's the status of your side projects like solo albums and production companies?

JAMAR: We still doin' what we doin'. I got my company, Dead Prez is one of my groups. I got my Man Starr that I been workin' with for a while, an' shit. A few other artists like Shabazz The Disciple. And um, I'm just doin' that shit on the side, but just focusin' on this right now. Tryin' to put that Foundation down so that we could build upon that with other shit.

ALAMO: Well, I've been spinnin' and doin' a little production here and there with a couple of artists. I did a remix for Damian Marley with Tuff Gong, and I featured Puba on that. And um, I'm tryin' to really branch off somewhat with some film shit; touched a little film action, right now while that shit is up and coming thru the music. And I got a couple of artists up and coming thru the company. That's about it after comin' with this Nubian shit. That's like the first priority with everybody in here. So I think we all had to come with something whereby we had to put our other shitsecondary to present this Brand Nubian Foundation correctly.

KRONICK: Sadat, can you speak on the Wild Cowboys project? And maybe reveal if there's a possible `nother solo project comin' out aftrer this?

SADAT: Yea, I'm still workin' with my Man Shawn Black. But I got a new thing recently. It's real infantile, but I'm hookin' up somethin' with Diamond D, Buckwild, Lord Finesse, Big L, and O.C. with Alamo. It's still in the baby stage, but that's somethin' I'm workin' on the side with Shawn Black too. Definitely.

KRONICK: It sounds exciting. Let's talk about some of the joints on this album because a lot of the kids back home in L.A. are sayin' that this is one of the Dopest albums of the Year; if not of the past three years. But they feel like, maybe heads ain't checkin' or recognizin' yet on the larger scale like they should. One of my favorite joints on there is the single and video. How did you guys come up with that joint as the single? And then the video concept for MC Goldy, and all that?

JAMAR: We pretty much did the video to the lyrics of the song.

ALAMO: Exactly.

JAMAR: The lyrics to the song was the treatment for the video. So that made it pretty easy.

ALAMO: The lyrics to the song went to the hook of the record.

JAMAR: Little shit like MC Goldy, all we had to do was make up a name for whoever the fuck we was talkin' about.

ALAMO: For a single on the battle of the beats.

JAMAR: Yea, so that's all that shit was really about. And it's like the record itself, the hook on the real sample is Don't Let It Go To Your Head. That put us right where we wanted to be as far as puttin' us into what we had to talk about. We worked it around that, and plus we put our own little Brand Nubian touch on it. And that's how that thing came to life.

KRONICK: Another couple of joints that I'm feelin' are Back Up Off The Wall, Love Vs. Hate, and Shinin' Star. Originally, what I wanted to do was hook-up with you Brothas at tthe Schomburg Museum.

ALAMO: That's in my neighborhood.

KRONICK: We wanted to base the whole interview on Doin' the Knowledge on what came before us. So I would like to ask you each if there's an event or person or people in Black History that influenced you guys to make your art so powerful lyrically?

JAMAR: The one person for me would probaby be Elijah Muhammed `cause he's the one that brought the Message. He planted the seeds in the minds of people like Malcolm X, Clarence 13X Smith, and he was just the one that was the Messenger. And for me, he was the one that really, I could say affected me the most as far as why I rhyme like this.


SADAT: Damn, that's a good question. I'd have to probably think about that.

KRONICK: OK, Al. A person, or an event, or a group of people in history that affected, let's say your production style? `Cause Man, the production that you guys come with, and I know you're all involved, is very dense and deep. Almost historic because the listener can go back 10, 20, or 30 years in time and feel the energy that those cuts actually brought back at that time when our parents used to spin those 45's!

ALAMO: I'd would say Nat Turner `cause he was the one that was sttrictly against the grain. That's what I represent and that's what my Crew represents. We represent the Truth, and we don't give a fuck!! Whether you like it or not! And we for the Cause.

KRONICK: On some Freedom at any cost type of shit?

ALAMO: KnowImean? So I would say my Man, Nat Turner.

JAMAR: I was just thinkin' that before you said that. Like, I felt that we're one of those groups where not just this album, but all our albums: I think all our albums when you listen to our shit; like 20 years from now muthafuckas gon' be like, "I get it! I get it!! This is the shit!! This the SHIT!!!" And we gon' be dead and we're not gonna fuckin' know how hard the impact we actually had on muthafuckas. Like Bob Marley: he's dead! He doesn't know the impact that he's havin' on people's lives right now. And it's bigger today than it was when he died.

ALAMO: Way bigger!!

KRONICK: But you know that his kids and his grand-kids are feeling it though!

ALAMO: Yea, they're getting it back. They feelin' it. But it's like, he's not feelin' it! Just look at a muthafucka like Mr. Biggs!! Biggs did it in `59 with Twist & Shout. And was still winnin' in `76 with all that T-Neck shit!! And still winnin' right now on joints by Hip Hop artists samplin' his shit and R&B Niggaz havin' him on their songs!! It's the music B- that shit recycles itself.

JAMAR: But Biggs was respected when he came out. Now he's respected now. We never got our proper due.

ALAMO: But we ain't done yet neither!

JAMAR: Yea, I know that. But what I'm sayin' is, I just feel like we ain't got ours yet.

SADAT: I mean, everybody can speculate the future, but none of us actually know. We can speculate but we don't really know.

KRONICK: But I think what's key with you guys though, and what you do is so right and exact that it's gonna always grow. And always develop with people. It'll always get bigger even if it goes at a slow pace. I was wonderin, when you guys put it down is it a conscious effort to do it the way you wanna do it? As opposed to doin' it for a commercial Hit type of thing?

SADAT: We take every joint how it comes. We don't go into a song thinkin' about makin' a commercial song.

KRONICK: Like on some formula shit basically, is what I'm askin' you.

SADAT: Some times we rock a formula, but it's always once we get an idea that we put the formula behind it. But we don't go into the song with an archetypical formula.

JAMAR: We got a formula, but it's not the formula you might be thinkin' of.

ALAMO: Nah, we ain't never been on no "make this to go triple platinum" an' shit.

JAMAR: We just got our formula of how to make the best song we can make. And certain songs make people just want to categorize shit. They'll hear a certain beat and be like, "Oh that's a commercial beat they doin'." But a lot of times that's the shit that we just like. We just like that beat. That's just some shit we wanted to fuck with and it happens to be able to be categorized in this category or that category. But the formula we put together was just to make a Dope song. Not to try to be like, "Well this is gonna be Pop Hit" You know in your mind if this could play on the radio or somethin' like that. But it's like, anything could play on the radio really!

KRONICK: Do you guys have any favorite joints on this album? Most of the time artists will say, "I like the whole thing."

JAMAR: Yea, I do like the whole thing but I guess there's certain ones I like more than others. Me personally, I like You For Me. I like Brand Nubian, I like a lot of `em.

KRONICK: How do you guys go about picking what'll be the next single?

JAMAR: From taking surveys an' shit. Like, what do you wanna hear next?

KRONICK: Back Of Off The Wall! Fa shizzle!! Alamo, when you put the music together in the collective, is there a certain flavor or sound you guys are looking to tap into?

ALAMO: Not really, why?

KRONICK: Because there seems to be a distinct Nubian flavor that no one else can match.

JAMAR: See, I think we all got our own individual styles. And when you put `em all together, that's that Nubian shit, right there! We all like our own individual type of shit. But when we all like something together, that's that shit!

ALAMO: That's the nucleus, `cause we all touch the four points in this light. So if we all have that one common ground, that's that Nubian shit!

KRONICK: How did you guys come up with the title Foundation for this album?

SADAT: Mathematically. And he (pointing to Alamo) can break that down from there.

JAMAR: Yep, Mathematically (laughing).

ALAMO: We took the name Brand Nubian and borned it thru the Mathematics. Each letter has a number correspondin' to it thru the alphabet. And when we added `em up, what we borned it; meaning we added it up to it's simplest form. It came out to the number 1, which is knowledge. Which is the Foundation.

JAMAR: Brand Nubians deal with Knowledge which is the Foundation. Plus this is a new Foundation for us as far as coming back together and rebuildin'. And also takin' it to the Foundation of Hip Hop and tryin' ta sway away from that bullshit.

KRONICK: And to follow up on the Foundation part, the name Brand Nubian is almost like a mantra. Or like abracadabra. It's like magic when you say it `cause it can break down to so many different meanings. How did you guys come up with that name for a group?

JAMAR: We just needed a name, Man.

SADAT: We had wild names we was thinkin' of, too!

JAMAR: We was gettin' a deal with no name. We was about to sign contracts and we needed a name. And we was just thinkin' of some shit, and tossin' shit around, and came up with Brand Nubian.

KRONICK: `Cause to me, the name Brand Nubian when you talk about a Brand or logo, or what they used to do to us when we were slaves like cattle...

JAMAR: Right.

KRONICK: And then Nubian; the "Nu" part and the "bian" or being. And then just Nubian itself...

ALAMO: And then Brand Nubian is like brand new. Brand Nubian is brand new!!

JAMAR: Everything old is Nrand Nu again. That's what that kinda meant in the first place. Like, what we were sayin' is not new. But it's Brand Nu because you're not used to hearing it.

SADAT: But it was Nubian as well!

JAMAR: It was Nubian. It was dealin' with the Blackman & Woman.

ALAMO: It's a Brand Nu Black people!

JAMAR: It's a Brand of music that's for the Nubian people.

ALAMO: And you could say it's a Brand Nubian, like it's a Nu Blackman right here. BOOM!

JAMAR: A Brand Nu being. Word, BRAND NUBIAN!!

brand nubian

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