Classic Music: Antlife's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums of All-Time #3 (Brand Nubian "One for All") (1990)


Where do I start with this one? Times are so different now, and people throw the word “classic” around like it’s “hello”. Some albums really defined certain eras of music. And One for All was really one of the more powerful Hip Hop albums that spoke to consciousness, and to who we are as a people, in the early 90’s. I remember wanting this album so badly that I bought it on bootleg first because I was still a kid and only had a few bucks on me that day. I would later run and get the real copy (on cassette) from The Wiz around my way on 97th & Broadway. I’d end up  buying it on CD not too long after that, because my cassette tape popped from me playing it too much. The group was ridiculously dope as a whole. And what made them cool, was that each of them had such a distinctive style of their own. The production was fairly basic, but dope and super effective and perfect for their respective flows. 

The cool thing about the album for a bunch of kids like myself and friends, was that they spoke on so many topics. There was politics, race relations, the drug epidemic, safe sex, crime, style and fashion, party tracks, freestyle joints, etc. And they were able to do this without making any tracks that you’d want to skip. This was before it was quick to just jump to the next song. Back then you’d have to do some serious fast forwarding if you bought the tape, and I did initially. But Brand Nubian had dropped a serious classic on us, so there was no need to jump any tracks. This was easily one of the first albums that I could listen to from front to back, without skipping. And I still do. 

We all know they went on to breakup right after this dropped (it seemed), and worked on solos and separate albums, but none were ever able to match the greatness of One for All. It’s always so weird to think about back in the day. It’s almost like we expected every album to be a classic back then. The standard was so high, so imagine how much pressure it was to make something that would last forever during an era when there was so much great music being made. This album dropped 24 years ago, and is still as fresh as it was back then. I don’t see how anyone claiming to be Hip Hop can not own this. This is just music at its very best. So if you don’t have this one in your collection, you should definitely head out and make sure to add this gem to your stash. 



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