Another New York-native to bless this blog is Maxwell Dixon. You might not know him by name, but any hiphop head with respect for himself knows his moniker – Grand Puba.
Puba was a member of the crew “Masters of Ceremony” who dropped “Dynamite” in 1988, but due to lack of sales due to critical acclaim, they went for self and Puba would end up in Brand Nubian.
His commercial success hails from his time in the group Brand Nubian, even though he only spend two years in the group. In 1990 they dropped “All For One” which was innovative and one of many self-conscious rap albums from that era.
On “All For One” Puba’s presence was undeniable and his style and personality was big. Maybe too big for Brand Nubian, which might have led to the split with the group.
Lord Jamar and Sadat X continued with Brand Nubian, but it wasn’t the same without the subtle and yet loud Puba.
In 1992 Grand Puba went for himself and dropped “Reel To Reel” in ’92. The lead single “360° (what goes around)” became an instant hit and rose to the top of the charts leaving Brand Nubian in awe.
The ’92 solo joint, which to me is a classic, was more or less produced by Puba himself and featured funky breakbeat productions with the smooth Puba blessing the tracks.
It peaked at a #28 spot on the Billboard 200 and left heads fiending for more.
And their praises were heard in 1995, when he dropped “2000”. Despite of the hit “I Like It (I Wanna Be Where You Are)” the album didn’t rise to the success as his previous album. Nonetheless the album had smooth productions and Puba was still Puba.
“A Little Of This”, “I Like It (I Wanna Be Where You Are), “2000” and “Amazing” are perfect examples on how Puba juggles the funky and somewhat commercial type tracks of that time with the raw and smooth lyrics peppered with Nation Of Islam beliefs, mixing it into a nice drink – perhaps with a little too many ice cubes in comparison to his days with Brand Nubian and his first solo cut.
Puba would return in 2001 with his third solo album “Understand This” that didn’t pop eyes like the earlier albums and a reunion-album with Brand Nubian in 1998, “The Foundation” assembled Brand Nubian but not for a longer period of time.
However, I fucking adore Grand Puba. His flow, his charismatic way to rip a track and his voice makes him one of my favorite MC’s of all-time. I will make another Puba post with his guest verses, which to me, are just as good, if not better, than his own material.