Loyalty Digital Corp.
Release date: January 20th 2015
Just over a quarter of a century & numerous individual record contracts later, Sadat X of legendary rap group Brand Nubian endeavours to let everybody know he “Never Left”.
In a way this album seemingly has a dual purpose. The first objective is to maintain his long standing position as a well respected Hip Hop artist, then secondly, to champion the cause of honoring New York City as the place of the artform’s origin. The second objective is a lesser one & not an attempt at coastal/regional rivalry, but praise.
Sadat X has one of the most distinctive voices in Hip Hop, easily recognizable by the high pitched nasal delivery & unorthadox, offbeat rhyme flow, at times having non-rhyming verses.
On his solo work X mainly steers away from the 5% “conscious” verbals of Brand Nubian, all in order to express his views & opinions of the world around him. He goes from topic to topic as if going through a diary of his day, day to day & this album is no different.
“We In New York” now! The horns blow hard & triumphantly as we take a trip around NYC, taking in the culture & viewing the sights & landmarks. Then a continuous theme begins with the first of a number of interludes, all of which concentrate on Sadat reminiscing over his career. First up, memories of the “1st Show”. “I Know This Game” is the next message, so many pitfalls can arise concerning promoters & record labels & contracts. X is not getting played by either!
“What Up Kid”, are you staying alert & handling your biz right? If you recognize the loud, almost warning siren sounding organ sample you’ll see it fits the subject content perfectly (crate diggers will know!) First collaboration track now & Black Rob adds his verse to “Get Yours”. Both go in hard & get theirs knowing that “If the money ain’t right then…” The next interlude “Notorious B.I.G. Story” tells the story of meeting up with Puff Daddy to record a verse on Biggie’s track “Come On”. X goes into the booth with no written down rap after seeing Big Poppa do the same. Now that’s some way to influence a verse!
Summer Jam! A sunny day makes for a “Beautiful Day”, laid back, barbecuing, sippin’ a cold one & just coolin’ on out. This is followed perfectly into a cruise control drive track with King Tee. The L.A. veteran is still “The Coolest”. This section of the album has now smoothed out somewhat since the bouncy bass & funky beginning. “On Fire” is no exception to this & the underrated Cormega drops a verse in his typically flowing up & down fashion. The sung vocal hook by Lanelle Tyler adds a further soulfully smooth edge to an already smooth track.
Another legend is the subject of the next interlude. “Nas Story”. Sadat laced the chorus on the “One Love”remix & Nas showed up at a Brand Nubian jam to show support. Cool!
“Armageddon” is more descriptive of the violin driven production on the track as opposed to the subject matter. This time Detroit rapper Stryfe gets his chance to showcase his vocal skills, fitting in nicely between two X verses. “One of Y’all gonna end up on Riker’s Isle…”. Sounds like an appropriate punishment for sleeping with “Ya Best Friend’s Girl”. It will damn sure mess up a friendship.
Changing up the style in a reggae dancehall vibe, “Put It On Me” focuses on the delights of a feminine type. Chi-Ali continuing his career comeback, follows Sadat in describing the pleasures of being with with female. Nachy Bless complements the track perfectly with his reggae vocals.
The reminiscing on legends continues with “2Pac’s Story”, as according to Sadat X. Being an interlude it’s brief, but tells of how X was cool with Pac & fortunate to have an extensive conversation with him.
“Live & Ya Learn” is something we all (or should) do in our lives. This is a very personal tale of adversity faced by Sadat that begins, “Things have a funny way of goin’ around, You go up, you go down, That’s the science of life”. Then, things just got real!!! “When I went to jail I lost my wife”. Now with some help from Dres (of Black Sheep fame) it’s time to “Get Right”. Both deliver some wise words of caution. Best to take heed!
With a triple threat of X, Queensbridge veteran Craig G & Brooklyn’s verbal gymnast Skyzoo, there “Ain’t Nothin’ Funny” here. The hard beats & hard rhymes on this track is that real hip hop you just won’t hear on the radio. In fact, none of this album has that current radio rap sound. That just isn’t the objective here. Then, the subject of the final interlude is a rapper who some say Skyzoo has styled himself on in “Jay-Z Story”. Sadat receives a call from Jay-Z who requires his services on a chorus. This leads to a mystery tour by limo & plane, ending up at a Virginia Beach recording studio. The track is recorded & X makes the journey home. Job done!
Finally, the title track. An opening verse from Tony Mays sets up Sadat to address the subject of NY rappers & the South. There is no intent whatsoever to diss the South, but to put on blast New York rappers who head down South, put on fake accents & forget their roots. The message is clear: pay homage to the place where hip hop originated & rep New York proudly without any regional prejudice. Stay true to yourself & where you’re from.
If hip hop that stays true to the original format of the artform is your thing, this album is for you. This is a hard East Coast album with some smoothed out tracks that add listening variety. With that fact in mind it gives appeal to those who respect quality beats & vocal delivery, regardless of coast or region. Sadat X has yet again shown & proved that in these times of media hyped, commercially edged radio rap, he & real hip hop have “Never Left”.
01. We In New York
02. 1st Show (Interlude)
03. I Know This Game
04. What Up Kid
05. Get Yours (feat. Black Rob)
06. Notorious B.I.G. Story (Interlude)
07. Beautiful Day
08. Slidin’ (feat. King Tee)
09. On Fire (feat. Cormega & Lanelle Tyler)
10. Nas Story (Interlude)
11. Armageddon (feat. Stryfe)
12. Ya Best Friends Girl
13. Put it On Me (feat. Nachy Bless, Chi-Ali & Fokis)
14. 2Pac Story (Interlude)
15. Live & Ya Learn (feat. Maverick)
16. Get Right (feat. Dres)
17. Ain’t Nothing Funny (feat. Craig G & Skyzoo)
18. Jay-Z Story (Interlude)
19. Never Left (feat. Tony Mays)
Purchase “Never Left” on CD or digital download here
Preview, buy & download @ iTunes here
Stream the “Never Left” album @ Soundcloud here
Special acknowledgement to Ezact Mind Allah