His distinctive nasal-voiced verbals have been blessing Hip Hop listener’s ears for over two decades, first as one-third of the standout socially-conscious crew Brand Nubian, and subsequently as a noteworthy solo artist in his own right. And it’s Sadat X’s solo career that he is retracing back to its roots with the release of Wild Cowboys II.
Due first on February 23rd as a five-song vinyl EP (plus digital download card), with a full 16-track digital and physical LP dropping exactly one month later on March 23rd, Wild Cowboys II marks the release of Sadat’s third album in the three years since he was released from Rikers Island after a year-long stint for felony gun possession.
Now following last year’s Brand New Bein’ and 2008’s Will Tell-helmed Generation X, Sadat has recruited a smorgasbord of sonic suppliers for the sequel to his 1996 solo debut, including new heat providers (9th Wonder, Sir Jinx, Nick Wiz), more recent producers (Will Tell, DJ Spinna), and a few of the elite beatmakers (Buckwild, Diamond D, Pete Rock, Minnesota) that helped to make Sadat’s first LP one of the more notable boom-bap efforts of the mid-‘90s.
During a quick convo with HipHopDX late Wednesday (February 3rd) Sadat provided a sneak peak into the sound and subject matter for Wild Cowboys II, as well as gave an update on his post-prison personal standing.
HipHopDX: I gotta start off by asking you how much influence Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II, and the recent announcements of AZ’s plans to release Doe Or Die 2 and Capone-N-Noreaga’s plans to drops a sequel to The War Report, had on your decision to come with Wild Cowboys II?
Sadat X: Well, it didn’t really have any influence, ‘cause I was gon’ do what I was gon’ do regardless. I’m just glad to see that they coming with joints. And I love [Raekwon’s] [Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt. II]. But as far as they albums giving me any influence, not at all, I’ma do what I do.
DX: Yeah it should be noted that on “The Interview” [from the original Wild Cowboys] you said the sequel was coming that next year. [Laughs].
Sadat X: Oh yeah, no question, it took me a minute but it’s here.
DX: So is this album a sequel in name only, or are you continuing the loose theme of the streets in comparison to the Wild West?
Sadat X: Well I tried to keep it comparatively the same. I got a lot of the people that was on the first album – Money Boss Playas [for the Minnesota-produced “Everybody Know”], Diamond D [for “In Da Jungle” featuring A.G.], and Pete Rock [for “Turn It Up”] – and then a couple of people blessed me on this new one, a couple of new people. I got M-1 and Kurupt on [“Pray”], Ill Bill [and] 9th Wonder [on “X And Bill”]. So I tried to keep it within the framework of [the original while] adding a little something from the original flavor of Wild Cowboys and [simultaneously] upgrading it to make it be part two.
DX: And speaking of that upgrade, will the sound of Wild Cowboys II sport the same mid-‘90s [thick] basslines and boom-bap drums that the original did?
Sadat X: Well, if that’s what they wanna call it, mid-‘90s. I just go with what sounds good to me, man. If they wanna label it mid-‘90s I guess that’s what it is. But, I had a very high [level of] input on this joint…and every track I stand behind.
DX: I just mean like is there gonna be those modern synth sounds on there…?
Sadat X: Oh nah, I tried to keep it original to my roots. I like to play around with the drums a lot, so you gon’ hear a lot of that in there.
DX: I was surprised to see Sir Jinx name in the [album’s] production lineup for “Pray,” the joint with Kurupt and M-1. Does that track have more of a west coast Funk to it?
Sadat X: Nah. Actually man that track is a bangin’ joint. I been cool with Sir Jinx for many years, and we been meaning to collab on something and it just so happened that it fell into pocket on this particular project. And I think a lot of people gon’ be surprised [when they hear “Pray”]. Jinx never went nowhere, he always had that [heat and] he gave it to me and we laid it down. And M-1 came through for it, Kurupt, and my man Umi. So I think that’s gon’ be a track that people gon’ really like.
DX: “Pray,” what y’all praying about or praying to?
Sadat X: We ain’t really praying; we just talking about life, certain things that people went through in life. I’m talking a little bit about my daughter, and being the fact that she’s in Atlanta [and] I’m up here [in New York and so] I don’t see her but my influence is still in her life. Ya know, daily stuff like that.
DX: Now, I gotta know if [you feel] “Turn It Up” is on the same level as the classic “Escape From New York”?
Sadat X: Yeah I think so, man. I told Pete [Rock], I explained to him the situation, [that] I was doing Wild Cowboys II and I needed that thing from him. I told him I needed that original Pete Rock flavor, and he went back into the crate and pulled that out. And I think its gonna be reminiscence of that joint. It’s just a straight-up Hip Hop joint.
DX: And I always wanted to know, why wasn’t that Jazz-tinged, head-nodding crack the original Wild Cowboys first single instead of “Hang ‘Em High”?
Sadat X: Um, I don’t know, man. I think that was more of a Loud move. Loud Records at the time they – I had to go along partly with they vision since they was laying out the bread, but that wasn’t my choice. I would’ve went with something like [“Escape From New York”] too being more close to my nature.
DX: I’m a huge Rhymefest fan. Is the joint with you and ‘Fest…are y’all going Run and D, back and forth, on “Roll That”?
Sadat X: Oh yeah man, we going back and forth. I think people gon’ like that. We each put a little flavor into going back and forth. Flippin’ it like that as opposed to somebody just coming with a 16 and then the next person coming with a 16. We kinda interplayed at some pieces.
DX: “Roll That,” is that like rollin’ up some wack emcees? [Laughs]
Sadat X: You could say that, rollin’ wack emcees or something in the air, anything you wanna roll up. [Laughs].
DX: Now this one was a little surprising to me but… “X And Bill” over a 9th Wonder beat, that’s like Hip Hop purist nirvana right there. [Laughs].
Sadat X: Yeah man, something different. That’s what I was trying to do, just come with combinations that people don’t expect – not the same combinations that’s always expected, this person usually rock with this person. I just wanted to try to [mix] it up. And I like [Ill] Bill’s stuff. I definitely like his stuff, and I been a fan of 9th Wonder for awhile. He’s cool with me, and I just wanted to try something new.
DX: These collaborations, is this all your orchestration or you put the word out and people was coming to you…?
Sadat X: Well basically I had kind of like a pattern or a framework in my mind and I reached out to certain people who I felt was gonna complement what I was trying to do this time. I went and got Vast Aire [for “Bargain With The Devil”]. That’s [been] my man for awhile; we’ve done stuff in the past. So, I had a certain vision for this and I had certain people in mind.
DX: And you know I gotta ask about the Brand Nubian joint on here, the Buckwild-produced “Long Years,” is that the set-up for a new group LP?
Sadat X: Oh yeah, well you know we definitely – We continuously doing shows to this day, so you know, another album we feel is inevitable. We just wanna get it right, get the foundation under us solid. And that’s definitely, definitely to be expected.
DX: When I spoke to Grand Puba last year he said Fire In The Hole wouldn’t be “a good representation to end the group with,” and then he went on to say that the album was just okay to him and that the label rushed out a less than stellar Brand Nubian album. You agree with that assessment?
Sadat X: Oh yeah, definitely. I [would] whole-heartedly agree with that. I don’t feel at all was that a proper representation. I mean, it was cool, but truth be told it wasn’t that [good enough] that I wanted to leave a legacy of Brand Nubian behind [on that note]. Not on that joint. Certain things wasn’t done with that, and I feel like it was kinda rushed and I definitely want another chance.
DX: We both agreed in our discussion that Foundation, and not One For All, is the best Brand Nubian album ever.
Sadat X: Okay. I can see that. Foundation is more of a grown album. It’s more of a album that a lot of our fans identified with paying bills and stuff like that, and raising family. I can see that man, but still the first one is my baby. It’s like a child to me, no doubt.
DX: If I could [make] any suggestion [for the next album], I would take like the Foundation vibe and mix it with “Pass The Gat.” [Laughs].
Sadat X: That’s what’s up! I could see that, yeah.
DX: I don’t wanna end on a down note, but I gotta ask you if your legal drama from a few years back is finally over, if the state of New York still has you on papers or if you’re off that?
Sadat X: Nah, I’m good, man. I’m good in the state. That was just like a speed-bump in the road of life. Certain times we go through trials and tribulations, and that’s what that was. It was an eye-opener. Nothing to be proud of, I don’t big-up to any type of jail situation or legal problems. And, I overcame that and I’m here now.
DX: I understand you can’t do some work that you were doing before with kids [now] though [because of that gun conviction]?
Sadat X: Yeah, I been blocked for a minute, but I got some people in my corner, some big people that’s in higher education in New York and they pulling for me. And, I am still involved with kids and doing a couple of things, and I will be back. So, they can expect that.
DX: Just out of curiosity, was that speaking or teaching?
Sadat X: I was working as a teacher’s assistant for a number of years in the New Rochelle school system – a system which I came up through. I was working in special education, which was the…so-called bad boys. But, a lot of those kids I knew they parents, because being that I went to those schools that was just the natural offspring of them. So I was able to reach them on a different level.
DX: And the reason I know all this background is ‘cause D-Nice is a visual genius with them True Hip Hop Stories.
Sadat X: Oh yeah man, D-Nice, he’s a dude that’s come a long way. He’s been a lifelong friend. [And] definitely what he’s doing with that is a plus. He puts it down in a nice light.
DX: I don’t know if this is my place, or a question I should even be asking, but you still in the same spot? You still gotta deal with them dudes that sold you out?
Sadat X: Nah…I’ve removed myself from that situation. I’m in Brooklyn now actually. So now I been in basically every borough – West Chester, Bronx, Manhattan, [and] now I’m out in Brooklyn. It’s been a positive situation out here. I’ve connected with a lot of people. And it’s gave me a little solitude being I was from Uptown. So all my natural peoples is from Uptown, [and] so they would always be coming over – and not to say it’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes in order to create I needed a little solitude and that’s what I found out in Brooklyn.
DX: And you can get that M.O.P. collabo crackin’. [Laughs].
Sadat X: Oh yeah, that’s gon’ happen soon. I seen [Lil] Fame. I talked to Fame.