Some of you know that I've been a devout hip-hop/b-boy kid since day zero. I've never been ashamed of it. The culture has fed me on occasion (physically and mentally) and also helped me remove cultural barriers. In other words, it was not uncommon for me to meet someone who may have been from the barren wastelands of the midwest, or dirty south, but we could talk about hiphop and instantly become neighbors.
This will be the first commentary on album that I actually purchased for safekeeping, I've resisted doing the common 'heavy rotation' entry. Anyway, for the unaware, Lord Jamaar is a member of Brand Nubian. Certainly Brand Nubian should be considered as pioneers in hiphop culture, due in large part to their work in the late 80's and early 90's. While other NY based artists were seeking phat ropes and materialism. They were speaking culture and survival, street knowledge and overall knowledge of self. Perhaps the most interesting contribution was the unabashed delivery of the teachings of Clarence 13X, or 5% Nation of Gods & Earths.
As a youth in BK, I remember clearly the profound affect 5% Nation had on many HS kids. Hell, if it wasn't the Decepticons it was the 5% Nation running the halls of BTHS. I did have my physical battles with 'Fives', as we used to call them. Perhaps it was because, I was deaf, dumb and blind ;)
Regardless of all of that, I was always intrigued with the Lessons, or the Mathematics.
The album brought everything I'd remembered back into focus. I'm not going to front and say that I used to hang out on forty-deuce (42nd St - 7thAve), and build in a cipher with the older Gods, certainly I was much too young. However, my older brothers became instant converts, much to the chagrin of Pops. All I'd hear were 120 lessons..
It's arguable whether the Zulu Nation or the 5% Nation had the greater influence on the hiphop culture. Nonetheless, it is clear that hiphop would be much less insightful, without Brand Nubian, Wu-Tang, Nas, Rakim and others who espoused lessons on vinyl.
Back to the album, it certainly is not short on messages subtle or otherwise. Beats and production are tight. Collaboration from Wu and each member of the Brand Nubian. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to produce music of such content, since it isn't considered mainstream. If it were not produced for artists who have longevity in the business, it is likely that there would be a 5% album.
Definitely, a good buy. You won't find it on mainstream radio.
If you haven't peeped last.fm... What are you waiting for? There are tons of mash-ups abound. Wikipedia, Amazon, and more to come. If your media player (I use amaroK), is last.fm aware, you can immediately, get access to the album art and lyrics and other goodies that are made possible by these clever mash-ups.. Gotta love opensource.
If you're interested in good music also check out WeFunk Radio.