Sadat X :: Black October
Female Fun Records
Author: Matt Tomer
Sadat X certainly is facing one hell of a "Black October." The title to
the Brand Nubian's latest is in no homage to Cypress Hill, and it damn sure
ain't the sequel to a relatively titled Killah Priest classic. For y'all
that don't know by now, he's a marked man. X will spend a sobering September
staring down the barrel of an eight month bid, just months since an arrest
on gun charges.
Normally, I'll toss in tidbits like that for shameless filler, or some
bullshit intro. But "Black October" does not apply to the norm. Yeah, I'm
sick, but what, on this fucked up earth, is more fascinating than a man sure
of his fate? Short of biblical phenomena and LeBron James, I wouldn't say
too much. Doomed X may be, but he acknowledges his dilemma and runs with it.
His situation truly gives the album matchless appeal, and its storied, tight
recording frame adds to the dramatization. Sho'nuff, there was no time to
waste Fun facts as such give the album even more character, regardless of
its affect on the music whatsoever.
Sadat wastes no time in using the title track to stuff you down his
moccasins. Throughout, he laments and regrets, but in enviably optimistic
fashion. And although he couldn't have forced these words if he tried, his
glass-half-full mentality is tragically suspect:
"I'ma miss all my dudes
miss drinkin' beer, eatin' home-cooked foods
Layin' with the body 'til noon
I'm already countin' the days 'til next June"
X puts himself in good position for what could have been a gripping
concept album, but understandably enough, he chooses not to follow through.
What substitutes are fourteen tracks taking Sadat's modest New York life
into great detail. And with "Foundation" recently going 5X wood, it's no
secret that his high status among the hip-hop community is quite polar to
that of his back home. I quickly discovered that dude's everyday life ain't
too far off what my* ass goes through; he attends house parties where even
he* needs to work up his swagger; he reads "Tha Post;" he questions hip-hop;
and yeah, he's still thirsty for that "Million Dolla Deal."
When the production is in agreement with Sadat's instantly recognizable
pipes, beautiful things happen. The Asmatik crafts an elegantly simple piano
number for "Eternally Yours," where the break is as down-to-earth as X's
flows. Da Beatminerz are near peak form for "On The Come Thru;" Sadat's
splendidly gritty performance perfectly harmonizing with their faded chimes
and thunderous snares; and it's another day at the office for the adept
J-Zone on "X is a Machine," whose trademark obscurity remains absolutely
cutting edge (will he EVER get the credit he deserves?). In the end, though,
it fucking torments me that the best beat on the LP is a 1:09 interlude
splitting up the listen. Spencer Doran composes a masterpiece of dizzying
keys and nervously lingering violins, a work of art that could have easily
made the cut for "Madvillainy Vol. 2." Beautiful and out of place, it
neither helps nor hinders the album.
The fact that Sadat sounds more than comfortable over the lower-tier
tracks is a testament to his veteran ability and creativity as an emcee.
Still, he fails to bring DJ Pawl's techno-racket on "Who" to anything above
inferior, nor can he mitigate the torture of Greg Nice's R. Kelly samples on
"My Mind." Finally, Scott Blanco wishes he was Scott Storch on
"Untraceable," but proves that his beats can be even more annoying.
"Black October" could have been a humbling trip into Sadat's thoughts,
but his refreshing outlook makes the experience bittersweet. The good news
is that it's still a joy to hear him slighting the rest of the world ("I
understand DVD sales, and how radio prevails; me and you is using different
scales "), and his born-to-flow flow is as much a delight as it's ever been.
"Black October, a moment that'll sober us all, no it's not over at all,"
Lord Jamar remarks on "Chosen Few," but with Sadat twenty some-odd years
into his career and facing another uptown, heads can only hope he keeps a
pen handy behind bars.
Music Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10
Originally posted: September 19, 2006