RTB Rewind: Grand Puba Drops His Debut Solo Album 'Reel To Reel'

RTB Rewind: Grand Puba Drops His Debut Solo Album 'Reel To Reel'

Published Thu, October 20, 2022 at 1:05 PM EDT

Grand Puba Maxwell was always the unspoken frontman of the groups that he belonged to.

His verses on "Dynamite," "Cracked Out" and "Sexy" were standouts on 1988's Dynamite album by Masters Of Ceremony. Two years later, Puba was one-third of Brand Nubian, the New Rochelle trio that dropped one of 1990's most celebrated and talked about albums, One For All.

Each Brand Nubian MC had his own style and held their own on the project, but Puba's solo songs on the album were highly revered and critically acclaimed. "Who Can Get Busy Like This Man" and "Step To The Rear" remain master classes in clever lyricism and flow.

In July of 1992, less than three months before the release of Reel To Reel, Puba was featured on Mary J. Blige's groundbreaking debut What's The 411? cementing his already solid reputation as an MC to look out for, and introducing him to an infinitely wider fanbase, which further expanded the anticipation for his solo project. He was also featured on "Who Makes The Loot" from The Brand New Heavies Heavy Rhyme Experience in the same year.

Reel To Reel was everything that Hip-Hop wanted from a Grand Puba solo project. The Puba-produced lead single, "360 (What Goes Around)" with its bouncy bassline, boom-bap drum pattern and Gladys Knight-sampled hook was a hit in the clubs as well as on daytime FM radio. Puba's playful wordplay was on full display on the single as he spits: "Who's the one to flip it, quick to tell a ni**a to zip it so drink a 40 'cus we ain't got time to sip it."

Puba was influential enough as an artist that his mention of Girbaud jeans on "360" and his previous mention of both Girbaud and Tommy Hilfiger gear on "What's The 411?" caused a substantial spike in the sales of both apparel brands, prompting Tommy Hilfiger to publicly acknowledge Puba's role in the expansion of his brand, especially in urban markets.

"Check it Out" reunited Puba with Mary J. while "Baby What's Your Name" finds him serenading a young lady with a playful singing delivery and cadence. "Soul Controller" sees Puba abandon the fun lighthearted subject matter and return to the the vibes of "Wake Up," the controversial single from Brand Nubian's One For All. "The Big kids Don't Play," "Lickshot," "Reel To Reel" and "Proper Education" round out a strong debut from one of the genre's most talented and unsung MCs.

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