Artist: Sadat XTitle: Black OctoberRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow
Sadat X should have known better. Caught up with a gun when the boys in blue ran up on him in late 2005, the Brand Nubian rapper is stuck with a year long jail sentence. While getting his life in order for his mandated "vacation", he was able to put together another strong addition to his impressive discography with Black October (Female Fun).
The mark of a true MC is versatility, and whether they want to admit it or not, vulnerability. Opening with the pensive title track produced the underappreciated DJ Spinna, Sadat goes into what's going through his mind while prepping for his bid. The part time teacher and basketball coach goes from nostalgic, "In the fall, no blowing trees in the hall," to apologetic "Damn I'm miss my class, if I could kick my own self in the ass I would."
Coupled with last year's now ironically titled Experience & Education, the former Derek X has assembled a pair of poignant back to back works. They at times work as a pair. On "The Post" he re-treads the territory of Experience's "The Daily News", this time recalling June 28, 2006's stories from The New York Post in rhyme. After "Momentary Outro", where X heatedly breaks down exactly, relatively, how he found himself in his predicament, Black October closes with a "The God Is Back 2". Instead of the resounding feel of the original "God Is Back", this version is much more somber, considering the circumstances. Long the original blue collar MC, on "Million Dolla Deal" Sadat affirms that though his respect enviable, some more change in the pocket wouldn't hurt.
Though Sadat may not be scoring platinum tracks, his choice in beats remains top notch, and continues. He gets heat from up and coming producer Marco Polo on the gutter posse cut "If You" featuring Boss Money Gangstas, Big Meg & Tommy Gibbs, as well choice cuts from old cronies like Diamond D ("The Post) and Da Beatminerz ("On Tha Come Thru"). "The Chosen Few", though, may lack the "umph" you'd expect from a Brand Nubian match up but is still easily trumps Greg Nice's decisions to sample R. Kelly vocals for "My Mind".
Sadat X is the last rapper you would expect to face a jail term with all the criminally talentless knucklheads running around in the game. Nevertheless, he's chosen not to exploit his situation to sell more units but rather to further infuse his soul into his music. The result is a well-rounded, sincere and thumping piece of art. Here's to an early release.