Sadat X is a Hip-Hop legend and a leader in his community. Unfortunately he’s currently incarcerated for something he refers to as “street beef.” Before Sadat took his leave of absence, however, he sat down with us at RapReviews to discuss his work, how this setback will affect him, and the real reason his incarceration causes him pain.
Adam Bernard: Talk to me about what’s going on in your world.
Sadat X: I have a situation where I gotta do some time for a minute but I’ma still be around that’s why I wanted to push that out to generate while I wasn’t around.
AB: You released the album Black October beforehand. Have you shot some videos, made sure the vinyl’s pressed, all that kind of stuff?
X: Oh yeah, I did shoot a video for Throw The Ball and the vinyl is circulating and it’s doing pretty good so far.
AB: With your situation, how did it affect your concentration when you were in the studio or when it came to, business-wise, getting it all out?
X: It didn’t really affect my concentration it just made me, I guess, do it a little faster than I would have done it and I didn’t get a couple of key people that I wanted to but I am satisfied with the album and I definitely stand behind it.
AB: Tell me a little bit about it, what can people expect?
X: Everybody know me, Sadat, you can expect the same off-base kind of style. I’ve still got a couple of key people who always work with me, Diamond D, Money Boss, Big Meg, Tommy Gibbs, J-Zone, so a lot of people helped me out on this project.
AB: And you’ve been making a few guest appearances on other people’s work, correct?
X: Oh yeah, that’s how you generate. Being that my grind is what it is, it’s not a mainstream grind, per say, but I gotta stay visible and stay in the public eye so I do these different features. Plus I’m a fan also, a lot of rappers lose sight of the fact that they are fans, so I’m a fan of certain artists and whenever I get a chance to appear with one I do.
AB: Is there anyone specifically that you’ve haven’t gotten to build with that you’re looking forward to in the future?
X: I haven’t done anything with AG in a while, he’s a good person with me, and also Nature, I would like to hook up with Nature again, too.
AB: I hate to ask, but what’s gonna go on with everything else with the situation?
X: It’s unfortunate that I do have to be confined for a minute but I got my key people in place and they’re gonna make sure that my album is visible and is out and it’s only about six or seven months so I will be back. I did a video so hopefully that will prolong the album, but I’ll be back, it’s not too long. I just stay ready, a lot of my friend’s have their personal studios so whenever they give me the chance I go in and record.
AB: So what happened? What was it for?
X: I don’t really want to elaborate on it but basically I got into a street beef and I guess you know if you do the crime you do the time.
AB: What else is in the plans right now?
X: Working with a lot of different artists, we’re trying to build a family. Sadat X is a family enterprise, I’m comprised of a lot of people that love and care for me. I have a lot of branches and we’re definitely going to get into some of those artists, that’s why it’s unfortunate that I do have to be confined right now because I would like to spread out a couple of different things.
AB: You have all those branches because you’ve been around for about 20 years in Hip-Hop. Why do you feel you’ve had longevity when a lot of other people haven’t?
X: I guess because I’m wiling to change. A lot of the older artists, they’re fed up with rap or they feel rap owes them something. Rap don’t owe you anything. If you want to get mad blame your parents for having you too soon. And a lot of times they’re not willing to bend, you gotta perform to the times, you can’t come with your shit that you think is all of that but everybody else is listening to this, you gotta find some sort of median.
AB: Have you found it harder to get your message across in the new era and with the new generation of listeners or have you just found other ways to get it across?
X: The way I see it is like this, if you really look at rap on a whole, rap in comparison to other forms of music, rap is a baby. Rap is about 30, 40 years old and the people that’s my age that listen to rap, they still listen to rap. Why should they not listen to it? And I make a lot of my stuff for those people, but I do try to blend with this younger generation but I’m basically concerned about people that’s a little older.
AB: What a 14 year old goes through today and what you or I went through when we were 14 is so radically different. They have the internet and myspace, and we didn’t have any of that.
X: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s what I tell these kids. I say ya’ll are coming up in a good time and they’re taking advantage of it. Like you said, what I came out I was just happy for people on my block to hear the music, I had no idea rap would take off how it’s taken off, I didn’t have any idea I would be able to travel to as many places as I’ve traveled. I tell these kids you’re lucky and you’ve got a good opportunity, take advantage of it.
AB: You’ve mentioned a few, but what are some of the other opportunities you’ve seen come your way that just completely blow your mind?
X: I guess just like connecting with different people and different people as you see as stars. You see a lot of movies stars and athletes and for them to come up sometimes and be like they really enjoy your music it’s sometimes a shock, especially to me because I’m not, I guess, what’s considered a so-called mainstream artist, so when these people come up to me I’m like wow because they really sometimes have to search for my stuff.
AB: When you look back over your whole career how do you see your growth, where do you see the big changes in your life from where you started to where you are now?
X: First off all, like I said, I never expect it to go this far and I’m happy with myself as still being viable at this point because a lot of artists I came out with are no longer around and when I hear some of them they don’t still have the capabilities, I still feel at this age I’m getting stronger, I feel like my lyrics have been getting stronger from back in the Brand Nubian days. And I coach high school basketball so I’m around kids of that age and for me to still be here and doing my thing that’s good for me, I’m proud of myself on that.
AB: Now if somebody owns the whole Brand Nubian collection do they get more playing time?
X: Well you know a lot of their parents, especially when I worked in the school in New Rochelle, I worked with a loot of younger kids, but being that I worked in New Rochelle that was the same school I went to so I knew a lot of the kids and I knew their parents so that was an edge of me working in the school, which is really why I’m kind of upset because you know in New York to teach in the schools you can’t have any felony charges and the crime that I did I got a felony charge and that’s disheartening to me because that was one of my passions, working with the kids and if I can work around it I would like to.
AB: I’m sure there are other programs that don’t necessarily involve the school system, but are after school programs.
X: Yeah definitely but I would have rather worked in the school as opposed to an after school program because when I was in the school I felt like I was making more of a difference because I was in their daily routine. A lot of times the after school programs are based on playing and having fun whereas when I was working in the classroom we were learning and I was preparing them for life, I felt, more. Anybody can throw a basketball around.
AB: Would you say that would be one of your big goals, to continue to reach the kids no matter what?
X: Oh yeah, definitely. I was going back to school and I do plan to finish and get my degree because I see now that I have this mark against me I’m gonna have to get my degree to excel to where I want to be because that’s gonna be one of the things that people are gonna throw at me, different people in higher positions when I do try to get to various of the education they’re gonna be like well he got arrested for this or that but I can still come at them and be like well I’ve got my degree and my masters degree. I can definitely get that, I can attain that, I read voraciously so that’s no problem. Plus it’s just good to have an education of different things because then you’re aware of things. Being that we’re in the five percent nation we want to attain all things knowledge, wisdom and understanding and that’s only in my nature to want to go out and want to know yours and mine, that’s how I go about it.
AB: When you look at other artists would you like to see more artists going into the school systems and working in those programs and working after school and doing more things like that?
X: If it’s not for a publicity stunt. Anybody can go to the schools and give a check or this or that or go for the day and play with the kids for a day. If you’re gonna be an integral part of their lives, because I worked in special education and I worked one to one with kids and a lot of the problems with them is people are coming in and out of their lives and then they leave so they build up defense mechanisms. That’s why when I was working in the school I wasn’t doing as many shows because it was hard if I’m there for a week then I’m not there for two or three weeks, those kids, they take that personally. So I don’t have any problems with people going into the education field, especially rappers, but if you’re an integral part, not just coming to give a check or working in there for a day or two.
AB: So basically make it a consistent thing.
X: Definitely because these kids are a lot wiser nowadays then when I was growing up, there’s a lot more game and these kids know that.
AB: Do you find them seeking guidance at this point?
X: Oh definitely. I worked with a lot of kids that were from one parent homes and especially the boys, they need a male figure to guide them and me being an African American, in this land they need that extra guidance because there’s a lot of points and restrictions already against them. They’re coming into this world with a mark against them so they need somebody that they can identify with where they can say “damn, well Mr. Murphy’s cool. And he gave me this plan and maybe if I work with that I can make something,” because it’s also coming at the kids in a way that they understand. A lot of educators, they come at these kids with the standard form, but these times are not standard form, it’s like war out here, so you gotta come with a warrior’s mentality but also in the ways of the street and be able to reach these kids. You gotta be able to literally speak the slang they know and do the things they know but then be like aiight let’s get back to this work and study this work.
AB: And when you say warrior you’re not even being metaphorical because a lot of these kids have family members that are off at war at this point.
X: Definitely. So you know these kids are a lot smarter and there are a lot more things that are against them nowadays.
AB: Have you ever been surprised by something a kid has told you?
X: Oh yeah, kids they’re always teaching. I absorb, I can learn from anywhere, you can always learn.
AB: has there ever been a moment where you thought “damn these kids are on a level that’s kinda scary?”
X: I would say in that essence as far as drugs because these kids nowadays, they now know if a family member’s on drugs or if this person’s on drugs and some of the things that they tell me that goes on with their family life or that they see in the streets, I’m like damn it’s real out here for some of these kids.
AB: All the more reason to have a strong male role model.
AB: Anything you’d like to add?
X: I would just like to say I would hope people pick up the album. If you know Sadat X you know that I’m coming 100%, I’m not gonna water it down, I’m gonna give you what it is is what it is and I guess to not hold this mark against me. If you look on the internet, or read the newspapers or hear the radio some of the stories that have been put out behind the case portray me as some sort of mad man. I’m pretty sure they said I put a gun to the face of kids, but believe me, I’m knowledgeable and I don’t know where a lot of these newspaper people or radio gets that information because they weren’t even there, so I would just hope you won’t hold that case against me.