Artist: Brand NubianTitle: Fire In The HoleRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Mr. Opus
After a six year layoff, the original members of Brand Nubian have returned with Fire In The Hole (Babygrande) their 3rd studio album as complete unit–actually the 5th Brand Nu project for Sadat X and Lord Jamar–with mixed results. It seems clear that the long layoff has not worn on Jamar’s production talent (he handles most of the album’s production). But Grand Puba seems to have lost a bit of the edge that made him such a well respected MC over a decade ago since he doesn’t deliver the spark that one comes to expect from such a clever lyricist. However, Sadat X seems to be the one member of the group whose star has not diminished over time as he continues to deliver with what has long been one of the most distinctive voices in Hip-Hop history.
The latest Brand Nubian project is not a bad one by any stretch of the imagination; just inconsistent. The lead single starts the album off on a bad note, as one gets the impression that the group is trying too hard to keep up with the current trends in Hip-Hop…umm, Rap music, when any true fan of Brand Nubian knows that they are above this watered down commercial garbage. Tracks like the chord heavy “Young Son,” “Still Livin’ in the Ghetto,” and “Coming Years” quickly alleviate our fears by showing hints of their former selves but “Momma” finds them stumbling while trying to recapture that old soul. Overall, Fire in the Hole could have used a little more fire in the belly of its rhyming core.