Sadat X has stayed relevant to Hip-Hop for fifteen years. Outside of his legendary status with Brand Nubian, the New Rochelle MC has made classics such as “The Lump Lump” and “1-9-9-9” on his solo endeavors. In 2005, he was courted by Missy Elliot and Beanie Sigel to appear on major label releases ages after One For All. If you’re looking for lasting power, look no further.
Experience and Education has gotten Sadat X a long way. Perhaps that’s why the MC titled his latest album. Party songs, to social issues, and conceptual tracks make up the album, heavy on collaborations. AllHipHop.com wanted to look at Sadat’s motivation, his vision on New York Hip-Hop, and his little known career as a teacher and as a two-guard. Funny how the ball bounces…
AllHipHop.com: With over a decade in the music industry, do you consider yourself coming full circle with this new album?
Sadat X: With this album, I’m just trying to reach my old fans and my new fans too. I’ve always done side projects, and I’m still first and foremost a part of Brand Nubian. But I had a lot of music in me, so I just wanted to get that out. A lot of times in the past when I’ve done [solo] albums, people have always suggested beats and ideas I should use, but this time I did everything 100% myself.
AllHipHop.com: Your new album shares its title, Education and Experience with a book by the same name, care to explain?
Sadat X: Well, I was taking a summer course at College of New Rochelle, and one of the required readings was by Herman Hess, and he has a book by the same name.
AllHipHop.com: I noticed Purple City’s Agallah is on three of your new album’s tracks – why three tracks with Agallah, and not Lord Jamar or Grand Puba from Brand Nubian?
Sadat X: Actually, I had planned to do some work with Brand Nubian. But I was at another label [Mad Records] and things didn’t go as planned. Soon after, I got with Female Fun Records, and we were able to get distribution from Studio One. Once we got distribution, they wanted to release the album so I was unable to do any new songs.
AllHipHop.com: What prompted “The Daily News”?
Sadat X: I just read the paper on that particular day, October 22, 2004, and rhymed about stuff in the paper that happened that day. Just from page to page.
AllHipHop.com: On this album, you write extensively on you and New York City being remembered, why?
Sadat X: Well, a lot of musical trends are getting away from New York, to the South and West, and I just wanted people to remind people that New York is still a valuable force in this game; we’re the originators. I just wanted to remind people that New York is still on the map.
AllHipHop.com: What needs to change for the New York Hip-Hop scene to thrive again?
Sadat X: Different regions show love when artists from their areas come out, and I would like to see that same support from the fans for New York artists. We just need to support our own.
AllHipHop.com: Diamond D oversaw a lot of your production in the past, and even has a joint on this. Other collaborators have faded. What has kept you two working together all these years?
Sadat X: Musically, we have a bond. He’s a personal friend. I’ve known Diamond for over 15 years.
AllHipHop.com: I had the chance to see Brand Nubian [minus DJ Alamo] this past summer at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Fest. Not to discredit the other acts, but many concertgoers I spoke to, came out on the strength that your group headlined the show. How does that make you feel?
AllHipHop.com: That makes us feel good, because it lets us know that people out there still want to hear Brand Nubian, and it inspires us to continue making music. We just try to stay current.
AllHipHop.com: Regarding veteran rappers and staying current, you were once quoted saying “If you [veteran rappers] want to hate on somebody, hate on your parents for having you too soon.” What are your feelings on this topic now?
Sadat X: Well, a lot of older rappers feel that the younger generation owes them something, and they really don’t. I think the younger generation would show the old school love if they make some stuff that sounds good instead of keeping that old-school formula. You can’t do that because the times change. You have to align yourself with young people, find out what they are listening to and find your slot.
AllHipHop.com: Mainstream artists like Missy and Beanie Sigel who have showed you a lot of love this year. Do you think the mainstream is embracing consciousness once more?
Sadat X: We’re flattered, and it’s all good. As far as artists, the cycle comes back around and a lot of people just choose to talk about reality, as opposed to talking about what the average person can’t relate to. There’s a lot more people who are average instead of rich and somebody has to address those problems.
AllHipHop.com: Part of that may be that your style and the subject matter you discuss portray you as a regular guy. Not overly conscious or gangster, you’re a regular guy with skills. Do you think that this is something missing in Hip-Hop today?
Sadat X: Oh yeah, it’s missing because a lot of people are following what they think sounds good. They feel like that’s what America wants, but now I think a lot of people are going back to the “regular person” and the reality of things. There are alot of problems going on in the world that people are addressing, and I think now that’s the trend.
AllHipHop.com: As a listener, I noticed that a lot of your songs and verses, such as “The Lump Lump” and your verse on “Don’t Let it Go to Your Head” are directed toward females. Why is that?
Sadat X: It’s not intentional; it just comes out that way. But I admit, sometimes I do do that.
AllHipHop.com: I read once that you don’t consider yourself underground or commercial; that you feel you are right in the middle. Do you think that this has contributed to your ease of being able to record with mainstream cats like Jay-Z, or the Neptunes, as well as appreciate and work with folks who are considered underground like DJ Spinna, or Geology.
Sadat X: Yeah, I’m right in the middle ’cause I’m not the high-end of flashiness or bling-bling but I’m not an underground-backpack rapper either. I’m somewhere in the middle, the average man’s rapper. I think people recognize me as being down-to-earth and they feel like if they see me, they can approach me, which is how I want it to be.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people don’t know that you taught 6th grade. What led you to wanting to be a teacher? Are you still teaching?
Sadat X: Currently, I am on sabbatical to work on music and do shows. But I’ve always been involved with kids in the community and coach kids’ basketball as well. So I just felt like teaching was another way I could further use my talents.
You recently appeared on Beanie Siegel’s last album The B. Coming and have continued to stay visible through the many collabos you have done throughout the years with Big L, Biggie, and even Jay-Z. Whose music are you currently feeling in Hip-Hop right now?
Sadat X: I’m feeling Young Jeezy, [Juelz] Santana and those cats, but I keep it open. I’m definitely not close-minded when it comes to the music.
AllHipHop.com: I also understand you were a star point guard at Howard University, played in streetball tournaments and you currently coach for the New York City Basketball League. Basketball seems to play just as big a part in your life as Hip-Hop music. Did you ever flirt with the idea of going pro?
Sadat X: No, because at some point you realize how good you are, and I realized I wasn’t going pro. I knew I was good, but I wasn’t a professional. I would have loved to have gone pro and played for The Knicks but I knew that wasn’t where I was headed.
AllHipHop.com: Who’s going to win the 1 on 1 tournament this year, you or Mase?
Sadat X: Probably Mase [laughs]. I just stick to the coaching.