Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
Brand Nubian entered the rap game in 1990 with their debut album One for All, and immediately made an impact, thanks to strong singles like “All for One” and “Slow Down.” But before we knew it, Grand Puba—who was quickly emerging as the star of the group—went solo, leaving fellow New Rochelle MCs Sadat X and Lord Jamar to uphold the Brand Nubian name without him. Still, over time, Puba and Sadat remained cool and appeared on various songs together, before the group eventually reunited and released Brand Nubian’s fourth LP Foundation in 1998 with all three MCs in tact. And since then, they’ve hopped on various projects and releases together, put out more Brand Nubian LPs and guested on each other’s solo projects, and have toured as a group as well.
During those few years of separation (specifically between ’94 and ’96), the joints that Grand Puba and Sadat X put out together (that weren’t released under the Brand Nubian name) were really dope. They appeared on each other’s solo albums and single remixes (one which also featured Lord Jamar), the star-studded High School High soundtrack, and a couple notable posse cuts too. And since NahRight is deeply rooted in the 914, we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane this week and highlight 7 Classic Mid-’90s Grand Puba and Sadat X Collaborations. Do remember.
1. Grand Puba, Sadat X, and Diamond “I Flip Styles”
This rarity first appeared on DJ S&S’s Niggaz Ain’t Nice street mixtape, thanks to his close relationship with the Diggin’ In The Crates crew, then was officially released overseas in Japan by D.I.T.C. in 1998 as a bonus song on their “All Love” 12-inch single. Diamond D’s production and spit-game is perfecto as usual, and Sadat shines with his opening verse, swagging it up like, “Got the black leather with the collar flipped up, got a bag of hash that’s all zipped up,” before declaring, “All of y’all should know New York’s about to blow.” He was right, too. As for Puba, well, he comes with the ill ‘90s cinematic punchlines, like, “So lay down in the middle of the street ‘cause here’s The Program,” and, “Knockin’ niggas in their knees like that bitch from Misery.” Dope joint right here.
2. Grand Puba ft. Sadat X “I Like It (I Wanna Be Where You Are) (Buckwild Remix)”
Buckwild’s remix of Grand Puba’s first single from his sophomore album 2000 was a mixtape and radio mix show favorite when it dropped, and it remains one of the iller rap remixes from the mid-’90s. Sadat hops on for a brief appearance, letting those who may have been concerned about the status of their relationship since the Brand Nubian split know, “Hey, the Grand Pu-ba’s a great friend of mine.” There was nothing to worry about—these two were still good to go.
3. Grand Puba ft. Sadat X “Play it Cool”
2000 had some nice album cuts on it, don’t sleep. This Puba duet with Sadat may actually be the highlight of the whole LP. The beat knocks, plus the ‘play it cool, and move slow’ Grady Tate vocal sample is straight money biscuits. And rhyme-wise, they displayed their everlasting mic chemistry once again, and gave Brand Nubian fans even more hope that there would one day be a Brand Nubian reunion.
4. Lord Finesse ft. Sadat X, Large Professor, and Grand Puba “Actual Facts”
If I could, I’d figure out a way to work this song onto every ‘90s list I do. I already threw the video in our post about underappreciated ’90s posse cut videos, and of course here, it makes too much sense. Producers Myke Loe and Jesse West get infinite props for the banging beat, and Finesse of course deserves much respect for putting this bananas lineup together. His verse is no joke at the end, too. And Sadat sets it off declaring he’s “the best in history, or maybe one of the top three,” while Puba adds on after a dope set of Large Pro bars, letting it be known, “My shit’s so hot I’ll burn the ass of an eskimo.” Zing!
5. Sadat X ft. Grand Puba “Open Bar”
Grand Puba returned the favor on Sadat’s solo effort by adding some guest vocals to the Wild Cowboys album cut “Open Bar,” where he rhymes, “Me and Sadat go back to the days of the sandbox, now we much bigger still love ya nigga.” And with original Brand Nubian member DJ Alamo on the laid-back production, Now Rule was definitely representing thoroughly top to bottom on this one.
6. Sadat X ft. Grand Puba and Lord Jamar “The Lump Lump (Nubian Mix)”
On the remix to Sadat’s Buckwild-produced second single “The Lump Lump” off Wild Cowboys, he officially reunited the three Brand Nubian MCs for the first time since their split. A year later in 1997, they would make appearances together as Brand Nubian on the Soul in the Hole and Money Talks soundtracks, before dropping their reunion album Foundation in ’98. This shit still thumps, Buck!
7. Sadat X & Grand Puba “The Next Spot”
The High School High soundtrack was loaded with exclusive gems by Wu-Tang Clan members, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Large Professor & Pete Rock, and more. And Sadat X and Grand Puba joined the party with this loose duet, bouncing bars back and forth off each other. They’re chillin’ on this one too, as Puba raps, “I ain’t mad at this game, it’s been good to me, I get Tommy free, I get Nike free/I got 19 inch chromes on my 850, I got three different cribs no telling where I be.” Peace to our family Dante Ross on the co-production, too.
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