Happy Birthday, Lord Jamar!
Arguably one of hip-hop's most controversial figures is Lord Jamar, who manages to get everybody upset with his comments on race, homosexuality and masculinity in hip-hop. Before he came across as a bitter representative of the Nation of Islam, he was known as one-fifth of the great New York-based rap group Brand Nubian. Lord Jamar, born Lorenzo Dechalus, turns 47 years old today (Sept. 17).
Brand Nubian rise to fame arrived as part of the wave of golden age alternative rappers that included A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. While ATCQ and De La Soul rode off positivity for the most part, Brand Nubian's style was particularly dense with politics and Nation of Islam references. Many of their songs lightly touched on the latter and the N.O.I. rhetoric was well embedded into Brand Nubian's verses. However, One for All, the group's exalted debut, didn't sell as well as compared to their peers' first releases -- the album still hasn't gone gold.
The group slowly slid off with its subsequent albums, but found success with a Billboard Hot 100 hit, "Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down," off their sophomore LP, In God We Trust. However, a lyric from Sadat X foreshadowed the type of outrage that would later follow Lord Jamar: "Though I can freak, fly, flow, f--- up a f---ot / I don't understand their ways, I ain't down with gays."
Although the DJ Alamo and DJ Sincere eventually split from Brand Nubian, the core three MCs -- Jamar, Sadat and Grand Puba -- stayed together for the most part even as they pursued solo careers. Lord Jamar found his success in acting. When he dissed Kanye West with homophobic remarks, many revived screencaps of his nude scenes as Supreme Allah on Oz, HBO's first drama.
Thus far, Lord Jamar has released on solo album, 2006's The 5% Album.
Watch Brand Nubian's "Word Is Bond" Video
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