Sep 21, 2015

#InCaseYouMissedItMonday: @SadatX / @Buckshot / @IllaGhee2k; A Niles P. Joint

It’s tough staying relevant as a veteran rapper in hip hop nowadays. While your past glories may have won you acclaim, there’s always a struggle of pleasing your core fans while trying to gain a new audience. You don’t want to be stuck in the past but at the same time trying to jump on new trends could possibly have you looking like an ass.  Fortunately for this special triple feature edition of In Case You Missed It Monday, we found three long tenured rappers from NYC that have recently released some projects that may have flown under the radar and are still writing after decades in the game.

Sadat X has been around the longest out of the three featured emcees.  He parlayed his success as a member of Brand Nubian into a fruitful solo career.  The New Rochelle rapper/wine connoisseur/Lo Life/ educator released his 10th solo album Never Left in January.  Sadat uses his rich career history and life experiences for good as he drops jewels throughout the album, and we’d be stupid not to heed his advice.  This goes on throughout the album but it is most biting on “Live & Ya Learn” featuring Maverick.  X flexes his storytelling muscles as he raps about his legal woes, a relationship that suffered in part, and his rise from all of that.  He also puts on for the Big Apple on the title track with help from Tony Mays, admonishing NYC rappers that abandoned their hometown to dickride the now popular South and their rap scene.  It’s a sharp and necessary criticism that comes at a time when it’s sorely needed.  On a more cheerful note, Sadat X describes the makings of a “Beautiful Day.”  Over a bright soul sample, you can feel the sun and envision yourself floating through the events described in the track like Denzel in “Malcolm X” without the foreshadowed gloom.  Sadat X manages to school us through music without nagging, thus cementing his legacy as an elder statesman.

Buckshot has played a pivotal role in hip hop; first as the frontman of Black Moon and later as CEO of Duck Down Music.  Between the two he has been responsible for many classic hits (both as an executive and as an artist) and has also helped promote the culture while staying true to its NYC roots.  So it’s no surprise that his 2014 collaboration album Backpack Travels with producer P-Money utilized old school aesthetics while using some new jacks that were still down for the cause.  “Sweetest Thing” is a collaboration with (the artist formerly known as) T’Nah Apex and speaks on the conditions of life around the way.  It’s honest yet sentimental and uses an orchestral instrumental to drive the point home.  The album also features appearances from young emcees Raz Fresco, Joey Bada$$, CJ Fly, Chelsea Reject, and David Dallas.  This is important because Buckshot specifically recruited younger heads but made sure that they fit in to the schematics of the album.  On the solo tip, Buck gets topical and talks about hip hop’s irrational obsession with the Illuminati on “Killuminati.”  It’s rational without being condescending and drives home an important point.  The album’s finale “This Is My World” is triumphantly produced and catchy and avoids being sappy and lame.  General Steele comes through to help out.  It’s great to see a veteran not only stay relevant in modern times but also bring about a youth movement, which is exactly what Buckshot does on Backpack Travels.
Illa Ghee made his bones on guest appearances, first working with Mobb Deep and then The Alchemist in ’96 and ’04 respectively.  His profile was raised considerably this year first with a verse on Statik Selektah’s final album.  However he really shined on his friend Sean Price’s posthumous mixtape, guest starring on 7 songs and more than holding his own.  I made preemptive plans to cover his next album when lo and behold I discovered he dropped a dope ass project last year.  Social Graffiti is easily one of the best hidden gems of last year.  The vastly underrated Brooklyn rapper has a fantastic ear for beats that will properly showcase his baritone flow.  He also is oddly specific inasmuch as over half of the album’s tracks are piano driven.  It works though since Illa Ghee is deadly over the keys and no two beats sound alike.  Overall, grimy fare is provided on “Rum Raisin” which is menacingly cinematic.  While he could have stuck with this for the album, he switches it up on “James Worthy.”  Illa talks about not having superstar status despite a monstrous work ethic.  The beat sounds like a California sunrise and is wonderfully intertwined with vintage radio and tv commentary about the Lakers legend.  “90” was produced by Large Professor and takes pride in sounding like the quintessential 90’s hip hop beat.  Lyrically it might be the best song on the album and Extra P laces the track with a subtle acoustic guitar that is anything but soft combined with boom bap drums.  Illa Ghee methodically walks the line between ace lyricist and tough guy rapper.  He was excellent a year ago and has improved since then.  Expect big things from him.

All three aforementioned emcees managed to stay relevant using different methods. Sadat X used his time in the game as a teachable moment. Buckshot used his clout to make an album featuring like minds from the younger generation. Illa Ghee used his album to hone his skills and plant seeds that have been sown this year. Despite an ever changing hip hop scene, all three of these dudes stayed true to themselves and made the records they wanted to be made and didn’t let some stupid A&R talk them into jumping onto the latest flash in the pan trend. All three records have tons of substance but Sadat X, Buckshot, and Illa Ghee did it in their own uncompromising style.  

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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