interview by Meshack Blaq
photos by Animal Chan
Anyone within earshot of Hip Hop over the past ten years or more will
immediately recognize Sadat X as one fourth of one of the artform's most
conscious expression as a group. Brand Nubian was a large part of that
consciousness until the mind-elevating rhymes lost their luster in an age
filled with Blingery. After four group albums and a solo album to boot,
Sadat X has returned with a new dolo outing entitled The State Of New York
vs. Derek Murphy. For all intents and purposes it looks like Sadat X has
come FULL CIRCLE
KRON: Ever since I've known you from years ago, you've always kept a
basketball with you. What's up with that? And are there similarities or
parallels you can draw from Basketball to Hip Hop as far as influencing
young people to do something positive?
SADAT X: I played ball in high school as an off-guard. I also coach a team
of youngsters at Rucker Park, Uptown. You heard of those street tournaments
that have been goin' on for years? I work with that organization and coach
a team. Basically, basketball in this age works hand in hand with Hip Hop.
I have a personal relationship with a lotta basketball players like Allen
Iverson and Stephon Marbury. Those are people that are in their young '20's
that are involved with the Hip Hop culture. They wanna Rap as evidenced by
Shaq, Kobe Bryant, and Iverson makin' albums. So both cultures are tied
into each other where now a lotta Rappers will tell you they wanted to be
basketball players comin' up as kids.
KRON: Tell us about the background of your name. Most kids don't know the
SADAT X: No Doubt. Anwar Sadat was a major figure in trying to get the
relationship in the Middle East back together again. He was assassinated,
but he was one of the pioneers of tryin' ta come to some sort of settlement
over that land in Israel and Egypt. By right, that land that they was
alottin' back then was taken away from some people prior to that. As
President of Egypt, he was just tryin' ta come to some sort of common
ground where everybody could just get along, and he was assassinated. But
he was a major figure in trying to bring along peaceful relations. I'm a
peaceful person, so I just looked towards him and took that name.
KRON: Do you think people are gonna be surprised by your second solo album?
SADAT X: I think that a lot of people thought I was over with. And that's
good because that's an incentive to motivate myself to overcome the
obstacles. I know a lot of people probably don't know what to expect. What
I was trying to do with this is come from the opposite angle. There's a lot
of good records out there right now but they don't have the actual Soul
anymore. It's a lot of records that got played for a minute, played for a
minute, played for a minute; then they go and they're gone. I try to make
records that you can feel the Soul. A record with Soul in it right now is
the De La record. I think it's important to get back to actually feeling
the Soul in your music. There's a lot of people that are just makin'
records that are generic; just puttin' 'em out, puttin' 'em out, puttin'
'em out. It's like a Hip Hop/R&B type of blend which is a whole new
category that we haven't really named yet. And I would do that type of
music under the right circumstances, but I have to feel some Soul in it. I
won't compromise my music for anybody.
KRON: Do you feel that messages and substantive lyrics are still relevant
in an age of Blingery?
SADAT X: The message is still there, but now it's like you gotta find a way
to bring that in now through the age of Blingery. You've got to come in
that type of Blingery language but still get your message across because
you can't beat people in the head. I love Dead Prez. Them is my people, I
love 'em to death, and I understand the message they're trying to send. I
understand exactly where they're comin' from and I understand what they're
trying to do. But a lot of these young Cats in the Hood can't really
understand that right now. It's a little above them and it's gotta be that
type of ground where you can reach them, but still come in the language of
2000. And I felt that they came with that and a lotta people caught on. But
then, there's a lot of people that didn't catch on with that because it may
have been a little too much for some people to actually grasp. I'm trying
to find a ground where I can reach as many folks as possible. I may have a
little chain on and a ring, but I'm far from the Blingery. I'm with the
regular man that works 9-5 and wants to come home and take care of his
family. Or maybe just come home after a hard day of work and smoke a joint,
and just relax. I wanna reach people who don't have a Bentley, but maybe an
older model Jeep that they feel good about drivin' and don't have to have
the Bentley to be happy. Everybody ain't got the Bling. Everybody ain't got
madd drugs to sell, madd paper, or madd schemes. It's a lot of regular
workin' folks takin' care of themselves and their families. Ain't nothin'
wrong with that. They need to feel good about themselves too.
KRON: Having matured with Hip Hop, have any thoughts on settling down or
SADAT X: That's a good question because one day I was at home and I was
thinkin' how I'm gettin' older now. I'm 30 years old and I wondered when I
would give this up. I was thinking, "Where does this go from here? In 5
years when I'm 35 what will I be doing and where will this go from here?" I
feel like if I can still be involved and contribute to the art form called
Hip Hop in a positive way and I'm still sounding good enough where people
are still behind me; I feel like I don't know when I'll stop. I'm gonna go
as long as it goes. I might turn into a Gil Scott-Heron or somethin' like
that because this is a relatively new form of music. But it has to be done
in a way that can still relate to the kids today. Sometimes some of these
older Cats feel bitter because they feel that Hip Hop owes them something.
And Hip Hop doesn't owe you anything. It don't owe you nothin'. It's not
the fault of Hip Hop because times change and they're always changing. If
you can change with the times and adhere with the times, and make music
that sends a message that 16 & 17 year-old kids can listen to and relate
to; by all means keep going!
KRON: Are you cool with being labeled Underground after so many years?
SADAT X: I'm not mad with Underground or Commercial whatever, as long as my
message gets out there. I don't have a problem being labeled Underground
because if anyone knows the History of Brand Nubian, I've been all over the
world. From Poland to Puerto Rico, to Brazil and Japan, Nigeria to Denmark,
France, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada, Switzerland, and on and on.They was
familiar with the God Squad even if they didn't know the language. I've
been to Germany where people couldn't speak a lick of English but spoke
English enough to know the songs word for word. Without Hip Hop I don't
know if I would have ever went to any of those places or for what reason I
would have had to travel to places like Switzerland and Denmark. Once you
meet people from other places and hear their views, a lot of things change
for you. It makes you think people are going through the same shit
everywhere. What's to say that their struggle isn't the same as my
struggle? It's all good and I don't have no problem!
KRON: Would you rather date a fine-ass white girl or do a song with N'Sync?
SADAT X: Back in the day I probably would've said, "I ain't datin' no white
girl or nothin' like that!" But now I've changed because I've dated Asian
girls, Latin Girls, of course Black girls, and yes I have gone out with
white girls before. Now I'm more on a people vibes. If you give me good
vibes, I'ma give you good vibes back. I've met some of the 5% Gods that
have told me not to give money to their schools because the other Gods took
all the money and bought liquor with it. I just deal with people as people.
There's people that I've met both Black and white that were supposed to be
my Man and my Peoples and this and that, and we ain't had a good
relationship. So basically, now I deal with people on a people vibes.