Where were you the first time you every heard the Brand Nubian's say, “Do the Knowledge?” Even now that phrase makes you think. The Brand Nubian's have a thread deeply implanted in the fiber of hip hop; the consciousness in their music was never questioned. They were always able to keep their street credibility in tact. So, it is no surprise that when Lord Jamar, one third of the group Brand Nubian did return to music, he debut is ground breaking.
It's undoubtedly, a bold move by former Nubian member, Lord Jamar the making of The 5% Album as his premiere solo project, after almost 16 years. The album embodies the 5% teachings and raises the consciousness of the subject. With Wu- Tang being one of the biggest 5% collectives, it is no surprise they graced the album with their presence. The album sets a tone for the a new, yet revisited era of hip hop that takes us back to the early days , when almost every MC was up on 5%.
Nevertheless, the multiplicity keeps the albums' lyrical and mathematical content unprecedented. Alongside fellow Nu's, Grand Puba on “The Corner”, with a fiery piano background, Jamar echo the adversities of street life and goes on to teach with SadatX & Queen Tahera Earth on “Study Ya Lessons”, which is basically a track with a self explanatory title. “Supreme Mathematics” (Born Mix) is an example of the metaphoric and mathematical formulation of ideas, but it is broken down into lameness terms, making it easier to swallow. There are also guest appearances by Jasik Allah, Ralo, Nat Turner, and Rated G of 40 Bandits, on “The Cipher”, Prodigal Sunn holds it down on “Same Ole Girl”, RZA histrionic verse on “Deep Space” is undeniable and “Revolution” features Reality Allah & Horse.
Jamar introduces the next generation, with “Young Godz”, GZA’s son Young Justice, Old Dirty Bastard’s son Young Dirty, and Young Lord Jamar. The overall feel of the track is that this is not temporary, the saga will continue for years to come. Jamar takes a break to aim at the lack of mental elevation on “Advance The Game”, with lines like, How many times can we rhyme about cars and chains/.. How many times can a ni**a really go to jail/.. How many murders can you do on one album/Put ‘em all together, must’ve did about a thousand. Thematically the opening track, “Original Man”, does not set the tone for the album, “The Best Story Never Told” would have been better, it would have made the concept more evident, not to mention it grabs your ear.
Truth be told 21 tracks of pedagogy can wear on you, especially when 8 of them are skits and interludes, that are constantly calling out the “savages”. Unquestionably, Lord Jamar has grown older, and ideally is trying to fuse The 5 Percenters movement with today's hip hop society , but the overall question, is this the right time for an album like this? That answer is simple, either you are interested or not, do you want to hear any song off of The 5% Album in the club, or do you want to make your shoulder lean? Do you feel that from track to track you are in study class, or listening to a conscious album? Whether you like it, love it or hate it, one thing rings true, no one should want to be uninformed, ignorant and disinterested in today's society. So, know that knowledge is power and soak up 100% of it.