Sadat X: Gone Til’ November

Sadat X is the definition of what it means to be about your business and on your grind. The one-time teacher, basketball coach, would-be firefighter and rapper is the everyman’s man. Not comfortable with just relying on one gig, the Bronx-bred MC isn’t afraid to take a regular job and hustle like the rest of the blue-collars.

And just like regular folks get caught up in unfortunate situations, the same holds true here. Not too long after the release of the well-received Experience & Education last year, Sadat caught a gun possession charge and will be heading to city jail late October. But not one to let a setback slow him down, he just released another solo, the aptly-titled and very candid Black October.

The Wild Cowboy spoke with about his multiple careers, importantly, why you should not send him any ghetto books while he’s in jail. How long had you been teaching?

Sadat X: For about six years. Back in the day, was your main gig teaching and then you decided you wanted to get into rapping?

Sadat X: I was a teacher’s assistant … working in the New Rochelle school system. But I was still able to balance that back and forth with the rap, but these last two years since I made the albums [Experience & Education, Black October] during the year, I haven’t been able to teach. A lot of travel for them was being done during the school year and I couldn’t get the time off like that. What grade?

Sadat X: All grades. I worked from high school to elementary, wherever they sent me. Did the kids know who you were?

Sadat X: Well some of them did, but these are young kids; I know most of their parents. Being a Five Percenter, did you find it hard teaching some subjects like Social Studies or History?

Sadat X: Well, I would just break it down into what’s fact and what’s fiction. A lot of the stuff, being that I was a teacher’s assistant, I couldn’t really get into it like how I wanted to—as opposed to me taking full command of the class and teaching what I wanted to teach. A lot of times you have to go along with what the curricula is calling for. But you could still, within the curricula, break down little fallacies. And also, I was working with a lot of kids with behavioral problems, so a lot of that stuff [history lessons] wasn’t even approached. A lot of stuff we were doing was just getting them to be able to behave in the classroom. What made you go into teaching?

Sadat X: I just like working with kids, that’s all. Is your teaching license going to be affected by your situation?

Sadat X: I don’t know yet. I haven’t applied back again, so I won’t know until I apply again. Until I go get another job and it pops up on my record … I’m thinking about the irony that the last album was titled Experience & Education and then this happens … that’s like an experience and education in itself. What do you think about that?

Sadat X: It is. I mean, s**t happens. Got into a situation, s**t jumped off like how it jumped off … do the crime, you gotta do the time. I’m not afraid or anything like that—not by any means. I’m afraid of the boredom of jail, but it’s only for six or seven months. It’ll be all right. On the song “Black October”, you pretty much said that you had no fear in anything, it was just boredom. You also said, “Don’t send me no ghetto books.” What do you mean by that?

Sadat X: It ain’t nothing wrong with them books like … A Hustler’s Wife or something like that?

Sadat X: Yeah. But once you read one or two of them books, you basically read them all. I read those stories before and I mean, when I’m in there [jail], I’m already in there with vice and crooks, so I need something a little more challenging. I was looking at the inside art of Experience & Education and the book that you were reading on the cover. I looked real close at the book cover and it said, Willing Yourself to Live. What’s that all about?

Sadat X: Well, actually, that’s crazy, because that book just happened to be on the table when I took the picture. A lot of people ask me about that and I’m like damn, I’m gonna have to really go back and read that. It must be something behind that. Back to “Black October.” You said, “I might’ve caught the case ‘cause of the way I reacted.”

Sadat X: Well, I could have reacted better. I could have let the situation be handled another way. My peoples told me they was gonna handle it, and understand, my people are grown men. They not like little boys in the streets; my dudes is grown men. They care about me—they don’t care nothin’ about rap. I knew them before there was rap. That’s why a lot of times when I tell these dudes, when they be saying these lyrics about hustlin’ and doing this, and doing that—I came up in the grown man’s era. I was with the original crew with the backpacks on the Amtrak going to D.C., Virginia, North Carolina and places like that. So a lot of dudes be playing with this, my dudes is serious. So, the situation jumped off and I should have let them handle it, but I chose to handle it. Can you get into what happened?

Sadat X: It was a beef over — I didn’t like the way that some guys had treated a friend of mine who I came up with, and I took exception to that fact. They had beat my man out of a lot of money, and I took exception to that, being that they live around here and I see this dudes everyday. So the cops were just there or something?

Sadat X: They called the cops. I didn’t have the gun out. It was two days before Christmas; it’s in the middle of the daytime, Christmas season … I live on Broadway, 157th, 158th, which is probably the biggest drug trade area in the East Coast. There’s a million police over there all the time and so many detectives. If I’d have been in the middle of the street with a gun — in the daytime — I’d have probably been killed. They say it happened in front of McDonald’s — how come nobody from McDonald’s came downstairs and said I was waving a gun? And my charge is not for that. My charge is for possession of a gun, that’s why I only got a year. If it had been anything more than that, I’d be gone for a lot longer. I just got the minimum time. On “Untraceable,” you said you had to cop a plea because there were no grounds for a trial.

Sadat X: Yeah, I had to cop a plea. I was caught with the gun, so there was no defense in that. I had to take that time. Being that I had a previous gun charge, I took the year as opposed to going to trial and then they bringing that into question. And then if blew the trial, I was looking at three to five. Usually when they make you an offer, they got something behind you. Even though on one of the songs you said it’s not a farewell, I kind of got the feeling that it was. I got a sense that, if I didn’t know any better, I would think you’d be going away for a real long time.

Sadat X: Nah, I’ll be back in like six or seven months — that’s light. I know dudes that say, “Yo, give me six or seven months.” They would take that like a Christmas present. And I ‘m in the city. I’m not even going up north. I’m in a city jail; I didn’t have to go upstate. That’s when you go to jail. Yeah, that’s prison, not even jail.

Sadat X: Exactly. That’s prison — I got city time. There are a million Gods in the jail, and I know a couple of wardens, so I already got packages waiting for me. When I say packages, I mean I got clothes, books already in place, so when I come in, I’ll come in with a whole bunch of s**t. So, it’s all good. When did you record Black October?

Sadat X: This was done throughout the spring. Was it a different recording process going into the album knowing you were going away?

Sadat X: I had to do it a lot faster, really grind it out doing two to three songs a week. Are you already thinking about your next album? Is it going to reflect your time in jail?

Sadat X: Nah, I don’t want to make a whole jail album; nobody wants to hear that. I’m gonna reflect on certain things, but I don’t want it to be solely based on that experience. I was watching the video for Lord Finesse’s “Actual Facts”, and was wondering, being from the Bronx, how come you never got down with D.I.T.C.?

Sadat X: I’m affiliated with D.I.T.C., definitely. A lot of D.I.T.C. was in one area of the Bronx. They were based out of Forrest [Avenue], I was always affiliated with them — I seen them grow. I was just talking to A.G. I always talk with Diamond, O.C., and them. So yeah, I’m definitely connected with them. Do you find that with the global popularity that rap is enjoying now, that it’s almost unfair in a way for people such as yourself who’ve been around a long time aren’t profiting like this new generation is?

Sadat X: I take it like this: if you want to blame anybody, blame your parents for having you ten years early. Times change—you gotta change with the times. Times, change, technology changes; you grow and change with it.

Now it’s worldwide. When we first came out, people out of town didn’t have no way to see Brand Nubian; we couldn’t link to Germany — now they do. It’s just the way it is.

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