Few artists in hip-hop have afforded the longevity that Sadat X has. Unmoved by an inevitable changing of the guard in Rap, the X-Man remains a beacon of true, un-facsimiled artistry. In so many words, he sits atop the lists of your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.
It’s like his time as a child confined to the other side of the street or his uncle’s car, watching Cold Crush or Kool Herc park jams molded Sadat into the respected person & and wholly unique emcee he is today. Where so many of his peers have faded into obscurity, Sadat somehow continues to write innovative songs, deliver relevant contemporary commentary, and effortlessly staying tuned to trends of the day.
Having enjoyed an outstanding career in hip-hop, spanning nearly 3 decades as one of the genre’s most distinctive voices, his undeniable twang has commanded songs not just as 1/3rd of the fabled Brand Nubian (5 group albums), but alongside our genre’s greatest from Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, & Common (to name a few). He’s even been tapped by the likes of popular singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, legendary House-producer Miguel Migs and old-schooler MC Lyte all in recent months for collaborations on their respected albums. And not just vocalists fiend for a good X verse; extraordinary producers from The Neptunes to Primo to Madlib to Prince Paul have all called in lyrics from the self-proclaimed Dot Father to accentuate their sound scapes.
With accolades for days, you’d assume Sadat would be living the life of luxury by now. Quite the contrary, he’s remained loyal to urban New York City life, residing in the Bronx and Harlem much of the last 2 decades. Working as an elementary school teacher for disadvantaged youth to coaching successful teen basketball programs in Harlem (Sadat himself was a scholarship ball player in the late 80’s, before the early success of Brand Nubian’s debut).
Covered throughout last year’s critically acclaimed Experience & Education (Female Fun Records), fans new and old were introduced to a more introspective Sadat. Yet, celebrations for the album’s brief successes were cut short with the passing of Sadat’s father days after the album dropped, and then the closing of Female Fun’s distribution house Studio only two months after its release.
To add insult to injury, this past winter found Sadat in a highly unfortunate run-in with law enforcement on Broadway and 157th street in Harlem. Picked up with a handgun, Sadat spent the holidays behind bars and now 9 months later faces a year in prison for the charges.
It’s the marriage of the streets and realities of day-to-day living that create the platform for Black October (his 4th solo effort, and 2nd through Peter Agoston’s Female Fun network, here as the debut of their subsidiary Riverside Drive Records). A grown man, he is taking his sentence to heart and talks about it at length throughout the album’s most introspective, contemplative moments.
The opening and title track “Black October” (produced by longtime collaborator, DJ Spinna) finds Sadat over a raucous guitar stab-track running down the swirl of emotions he’s battled over the course of this past year. Far from glamorizing this, Sadat takes a contemplative, regretful tone. One more, to hopefully teach the young people of today lead astray, that crime is really real and jail is nothing to glamorize.
A warrior of hip-hop and the street life, Sadat X is an exceptional example of survival in 2006. He’s remained relevant, intelligent and in the face of adversity, challenge and personal crisis he’s stood strong and played through the hand’s he’s been dealt.