16 Songs, 1 Hour 13 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

An undisputed classic of rap's Golden Age, the 1990 debut album from New Rochelle, NY's Brand Nubian changed the course of the next decade of East Coast rap. The quartet—Sadat X, Grand Puba, Lord Jamar, and DJ Alamo—were equal parts complex and funky, convoluted and effortless. Together they formed a singular group of MCs that would be the antecedents for Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and the Duck Down Music Inc. axis. Produced largely by themselves, with some assistance from '90s boom-bap mainstays Stimulated Dummies among others, One for All is full of the era's James Brown breaks. But it found its biggest hit after Sadat saw Edie Brickell & New Bohemians on TV and flipped their Top 10 alterna-folk smash "What I Am" into the crack-era screed "Slow Down."

Brand Nubian were among the first groups to make the teachings of the Five-Percent Nation, a ’60s social movement that budded off the Nation of Islam, a part of their overarching aesthetic. As such, One for All, a beacon of the first wave of post-Public Enemy "conscious" rap, dealt with serious subject matter like Afrocentrism, AIDS awareness, and anti-racism. But the album was also quirky, thanks to Grand Puba's willingness to swing into sex talk or vivid boasts like "quick to toast an MC just like an English muffin." And the album also proves that Sadat X was one of the most gifted wordsmiths of his generation, with knotty bars ("It's my vernacular that's simply spectacular/My bite is in your neck, it's the effect of Dracula") that set the stage for the indie-rap explosion of the late '90s and early 2000s.

EDITORS’ NOTES

An undisputed classic of rap's Golden Age, the 1990 debut album from New Rochelle, NY's Brand Nubian changed the course of the next decade of East Coast rap. The quartet—Sadat X, Grand Puba, Lord Jamar, and DJ Alamo—were equal parts complex and funky, convoluted and effortless. Together they formed a singular group of MCs that would be the antecedents for Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and the Duck Down Music Inc. axis. Produced largely by themselves, with some assistance from '90s boom-bap mainstays Stimulated Dummies among others, One for All is full of the era's James Brown breaks. But it found its biggest hit after Sadat saw Edie Brickell & New Bohemians on TV and flipped their Top 10 alterna-folk smash "What I Am" into the crack-era screed "Slow Down."

Brand Nubian were among the first groups to make the teachings of the Five-Percent Nation, a ’60s social movement that budded off the Nation of Islam, a part of their overarching aesthetic. As such, One for All, a beacon of the first wave of post-Public Enemy "conscious" rap, dealt with serious subject matter like Afrocentrism, AIDS awareness, and anti-racism. But the album was also quirky, thanks to Grand Puba's willingness to swing into sex talk or vivid boasts like "quick to toast an MC just like an English muffin." And the album also proves that Sadat X was one of the most gifted wordsmiths of his generation, with knotty bars ("It's my vernacular that's simply spectacular/My bite is in your neck, it's the effect of Dracula") that set the stage for the indie-rap explosion of the late '90s and early 2000s.

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