One had an album titled “The Art of Dying” in 2010.
The other one had an album titled “Death is Silent” in 2010.
Together, they had a small album titled “Phantom Limbs” in 2015.
It seems the concept of death has tied hip-hop artists Sadistik and Kno together long before their first official collaboration resulting in Sadistik’s 2013 aptly-titled single, “Kill the King”. With absence and pain often being familiar topics for the Seattle wordsmith, he dropped the “Phantom Limbs” EP two years later with Kno behind the boards. After seven years now gone, the world has changed with valid arguments as to the better or as to the worse. Most, myself included, veer towards the latter. It appears both Sadistik and Kno do as well, that is, if the title of their new album is any indication. “Bring Me Back When the World is Cured” (we’ll just abbreviate that as “BMBWTWIC”) isn’t just the duo’s full length 18-track LP, it’s a statement about the world’s state of affairs and their place in it. From pandemics, to country invasions, to comedians getting slapped just for doing their jobs, I don’t blame these two men for simply wanting to be put under during the worst of it all.
Entirely produced by Kno, his samples are obscure and he knows how to flip them into emotive hip-hop beats, sometimes adding live instruments to give organics to them. Working with Kno puts Sadistik (aka ‘Sad Vicious’, ‘Sad the Impaler’) back in familiar territory. Eric G. was the last producer listeners familiar with Sadistik whose name was included on one of his albums (2017’s “Altars”). The album kicks off with the ethereal “Burning Suns”, with a male vocal sample singing the album title, vintage instrumentals backing him, and then Sadistik’s vocals overdubbed. The first song is “You Don’t Know”, with slowly thumping head-nodding snares for Sadistik to lay is tongue-twisting imagery-laden rhymes upon. He likens himself to being hollow on “The Earth Was Empty” while on the escapist “Ghostly Key”, he shows one the rhyming penchants up his sleeve– alliteration:
Their knives are sharp but my pens a Ginsu pent against you
You Pentacostals can get pins in tissue pent up issues
I‘ll press a pistol at your temple if I’m pessimistic
This impressionism isn’t that impressive is it?
Kno’s production is sample-based and it’s a welcome change from much of the electronic, experimental-sounding beats Sadistik has been employing since 2017. Kno loops a string sample for Sadistik’s reminiscence on “Apple Valley” and then drops the album’s first beat that inspires that “mean-mug-taking-a-dump” facial expression on “Carnelian”. True to being a versatile producer, Kno pushes his samples into the realm of Chipmunk soul on the atmospheric “Mothlight”, featuring Natti from CunninLynguists. This may be the first time on wax that Sadistik has rapped with Natti, thus now having officially collaborated with all three members of CunninLynguists. Mind you, Sadistik is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve, but he spits battle lyrics when he wants to and the first verse is full of quotables, from a slick “The Neverending Story” reference to a warning that “Cats get skinned for acting brolic / Turn a hallway to a Jackson Pollock”. And Natti himself…? He’s got that deep southern bass in his voice to go along with his poetic wit:
The first single on the album was “Neptune Skin”. “Burning Suns” aside, this track is the shortest actual song and the accompanying video coincides with the album’s cover, a segmented astronaut…one exploring a barren region. As a single, it’s the most lackluster one released and the weakest song on the album, because it’s entirely too slow-paced. There’s an unusual boom-bap sound to the production on “27 Club”, and there’s a psychedelic haze to the lyrics with clear references to LSD, shrooms, and Sadistik rapping tongue-in-cheek about wanting to be part of the urban myth of the 27 Club (the disproven idea that popular celebrities frequently die at the age of 27). What’s also notable about this track is Kno making a vocal appearance, lending his distorted vocals to the hook. On “Disappear”, he gets an assist from fellow Seattle rapper Gifted Gab and SoCal emcee MiBBs to essentially rap about being stoned. The boom-bap production continues here and the guest emcees insert braggadocio and stream-of-consciousness imagery into their verses, respectively. “Where You Want Me” is a spiritual successor to 2015’s “To Be In Love”, even down to the arrangement of the vocal samples. The final single, Sadistik sends a lyrical ode to the same woman who now is his fiancé:
The stormy “Rainclouds” is divided into two parts, the former (Part One) features San Jose rapper Lucy Camp on the first verse. The buzzing synths in the production remind me of what Kno did on Sadistik’s “Devoted” track. The production on “Part Two” is more evocative of the feelings associated with rain, and the piano keys along with the wistful Neil Diamond-sounding vocal sample drive the point home. However, even as Sadistik pours his heart out, he conveys it via technical mic skills and his well-honed breath control. I can’t help but to think of “Today” by the Smashing Pumpkins when listening to “Blue Tree Meadow”: A seemingly lighthearted production juxtaposed with lyrics composed of suicidal thoughts. On “BMBWTWIC”, the inclusion of such a track wasn’t unexpected, but it felt like awkward morbid humor nonetheless.
“Mulholland Drive” sounds like it was left on the cutting floor of “Phantom Limbs” largely because of the production. You’d think the title would be a reference to the David Lynch film of the same name given Sadistik’s hobby as a cinephile, but it’s just a reference to the famed Hollywood road itself. Not only that, but Kno raps the second verse. Because he concentrates more on producing, it’s gotten to the point where the appearance of a Kno verse is like when Cookies marijuana strains appear in east coast dispensaries: A rare announcement that usually commands attention. Pun intended, but “Quietus” is quiet since it comes right before the second single “GODMODE”. On the latter, Sadistik takes the opportunity to show off, dropping two 30+ bar verses where he just goes off on the mic like the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lastly is “Serpens (Trial of Lucifer)”, the culmination of the album’s many Greek mythology references. An interesting concept, it pits Sadistik against Kno with both rapping as abstract entities.
In closing, I’d like to say that while many fans expected this particular collaboration between Sadistik and Kno to be a follow-up to “Phantom Limbs”, they were wrong. Length aside, “BMBWTWIC” is a different animal. It’s said that sleep is the cousin of death, and while both artists have a shared interest in the concept of death, this time they share curiosity about exile/suspended animation from the world and its problems. Apart from “Blue Tree Meadow” and “Neptune Skin”, the remainder of the album is a long overdue union of Kno’s trademark and varied lush productions with Sadistik’s literate style of writing and rapping. You can get lost in the music listening to “BMBWTWIC”, so much so that you may not want to be found.