Brand Nubian

In God We Trust

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When pre-album single "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down" was issued -- along with its violence-laced video -- it was clear that Brand Nubian would not be the same minus Grand Puba. It was a safe bet that In God We Trust wouldn't have attempted any new jack swing crossovers or tie-dyed imagery. Though the makeover is drastic, it is convincing, with Lord Jamar and Sadat X stepping up with some of the era's fiercest, most intense rhymes, a higher percentage of which referenced the likes of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, Marcus Garvey, and self-defense by any means necessary. Multiple, indefensible homophobic taunts and the silly "Steal Ya 'Ho" aside (did they really think the use of the two words was so necessary?), In God We Trust is nearly faultless, packed with rumbling acoustic basslines, Jeep-rattling breakbeats, and rhymes written and delivered with a great deal of hunger and an equal amount of self-assuredness -- as if to say, "No, Brand Nubian was never Grand Puba and a couple sidekicks." The Diamond D-produced "Punks" outshines everything else, but the group more than holds its own as a self-contained production team. Had a high-profile beat maker been responsible for "The Godz...," "Pass the Gat," or "Brand Nubian Rock the Set," they'd certainly be present in his or her highlight reel.

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