Sadat X: Science of Life

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Photo courtesy of Michael Nathaniel

Legendary emcee Sadat X teamed up with the Dough Networkz brand to release an album called “Science of Life.” Science of Life gives us classic Sadat spitting parables and proclamations like, “I ain’t saying I’m the best alive/But I’m verified,” on the albums intro “Halal.” While the Brand Nubian member has over three decades in the game, his music consistently sounds current, and Science of Life is no exception.

Science of Life is produced by GiveEmSoul, Khrysis, Local Astronauts, Kevin Kaous, and Roc Marciano. The 11-track album features appearances by Roc Marciano, CRIMEAPPLE, T.F., Jay Nice, Knowledge the Pirate, Khrysis, Jay Worthy, Sh8kes, Jalisa, Juran Ratchford, D. Shawn, Sauce Heist, Dot Demo, The Musalini, Terrance Lassiter, Tiona Deniece, and Planet Asia.

The Real Hip-Hop talked to Sadat X about connecting with the younger generation, the possibilities of a new Brand Nubian project, and his new album, Science of Life.

TRHH: Why’d you call the new album Science of Life?

Sadat X: Well, basically it was just dealing with what I deal with—the science of life. Everything around me — working, leisure, taking care of the family, taking care of the babies, that’s the science of life. Everything in life.

TRHH: How did you hook up with Dough Networkz?

Sadat X: We was both down here in North Carolina and I met him through a mutual friend. He was throwing events and I went to a couple of his events and we had a good rapport. I was like, “brother seems cool” and we just hooked up.

TRHH: What made you move to North Carolina and how would you compare it to living in New York?

Sadat X: I’m in Raleigh, it’s a lot slower than New York. I came down here with family. Like I said, I’m gonna always be a New Yorker. I miss the hustle and bustle at times, but being down here gave me a little bit more of a peace of mind. I went to school for sterile processing, so I’m working at Duke Raleigh Hospital. I was able to secure a job down here so it was a move, man. I’ve been in New York for all my life. It was just time to make a move.

TRHH: On the song “No Doubt” you talk about working in a hospital. I remember one time you told me you worked in schools in New York as well…

Sadat X: Yeah, I taught a Hip-Hop class in Brooklyn at KIPP AMP Charter School. I did that for like four years and that was fulfilling because I had to work. Because these is kids that their old school is like Drake. So, I had to be in the classroom and make it relevant to keep their interest, because with kids, once you lose them in that classroom you lost ‘em.

TRHH: I feel like there is a lot of shame in Hip-Hop for people who work regular jobs, even though so many artists do. Why do you think making an honest living is frowned upon in rap circles?

Sadat X: Because they look at these videos and they see these rappers around flashing money, these cars, and these luxurious houses and stuff. I used to have to explain to my kids like 90% of that stuff is not theirs. Ninety percent of this world works. You got 10% that’s afforded not to work and that’s cool and I’m good for them, but 90% of the world works and it’s nothing wrong with going to a nine to five and bringing home an honest paycheck and taking care of the family. I wanted to impress that on this album because I feel that’s been a void in the Hip-Hop. Then it’s a lot of dudes that would rather, and I know them personally, that would rather struggle and keep the persona of having when they really don’t. And as you get older your priorities change. At some point you gotta look to the future like, “Listen, man I gotta secure my future.”

TRHH: At what point in your career in rap did you say, “Okay, I need to do something else,” because this is not as secure?

Sadat X: It probably was during the pandemic when everything was shut down. If you was a person that was used to doing 3-4 shows a month and you really needed to do those shows to live, when that shut down that was a major loss of income. You had to make a move. So, that was a stark cold reality. It let me know like if something shut down you better have some type of skill or trade or something you can do to actually stay alive in this world.

TRHH: How long did you go to school?

Sadat X: I went to school for six months.

TRHH: What was that for again?

Sadat X: Sterile processing. That involves the process of when they do surgeries and stuff like actually cleaning the instruments when they come back, making sure they’re secure to go back up again for surgery.

TRHH: Okay. You collaborated with a lot of cats from this generation on Science of Life. Why was it important for you to have features with some of these younger cats?

Sadat X: Because I didn’t want to make an old man album, you understand? That’s what I did want to do. I didn’t want to make an old man album of just me ranting and raving. I wanted to get fresh ears on this, a new perspective, plus a lot of them young boys, they made me work. When you’re in Hip-Hop, man, like for me, I still love Hip-Hop and it’s always a challenge for me. I challenge myself. Some of them boys I bought on I knew they was going to bring it and I was like, that’s gonna make me work and it’s going to only make my blade sharper.

TRHH: You worked with Roc Marci on this album, too. What was it like working with him?

Sadat X: It was good working with Roc and I’m glad to see Roc getting his flowers now, because maybe 10-12 years ago people didn’t understand him. A lot of people they was like, “Yo, he’s making these beats and it’s cool, but it’s different,” It was good to see that he stuck with his formula and his time rolled around where he’s like literally like the godfather of this new type of age. Like, he’s the godfather of that. He was doing that then. A lot of these young boys they coming up doing that now, he been doing that.

TRHH: Yeah, I think he’s the blueprint for Griselda and a lot of other cats.

Sadat X: Yeah, definitely.

TRHH: The first single from the album is an important song called “Niggas to Gods.” How do you believe we can go about transforming those who don’t know who they are into who and what they are meant to be?

Sadat X: Well, we gotta still keep on trying to put out some positive content and like I said grab some of the younger people that’s rhyming and let them hear it and let them know what this topic is about and get them to be on it. I heard a song where Lil Baby is actually talking some positive stuff on the song. It’ll take artists like that like to turn it around for this younger generation. They don’t listen to me but so much, that’s the reality of it. To change this generation where we’re at now, it’s going to take that generation to change it.

Me, I’m set in stone. I got my foundation, I got my core audience and they’re gonna do it. And then every time I put out an album if I can bring some more younger fans in, that’s a plus for me. But I know that to really change this generation it’s going to take this generation to change it. And the reality of it is, everybody ain’t gonna reach the finish line. That’s another part of the science of life — we’re going to lose some along the way and we’ll gain some. And you know I’m sad for the ones we will lose, but for the ones that we’ll save I want to give them the message so they can relay it down to their generation and save their generation.

TRHH: I think the last time I talked to you was with El Da Sensei and I just read an interview or something with him recently and he talked about performing in Russia with you. What’s it like performing overseas and with this album how does having a 9-to-5 alter what you can do overseas?

Sadat X: Well, performing overseas a lot of times depending on where you go they have a little bit more appreciation of the culture and the history of it, whereas a lot of times in America it’s the here and now. These kids want to know what’s going on right now and as far as the history, some of them want to get with it and some of them could care less about the history. So, that’s a challenge to kind of balance that. And as far as doing the shows, well that’s going to remain to be seen. This album is out and a lot of people seem to like it where a lot of people are calling me for shows now.

So, I’m going to have to try to figure out that, and that’s still something that’s a work in progress that I’m gonna have to figure out how can I juggle that with my work schedule. Right now, if I do shows I do them on a Friday or Saturday so I can be back Sunday to go to work. And as far as Europe, I’m probably going to have to use some of my vacation time to do it, so when I do the shows it’s going to have to be shows that count. Sometimes you go to Europe and you can nickel and dime across. This show might be good one day, then you might go to these two smaller cities and it’s whatever. Any shows I do in Europe now, they’re gonna have to count.

TRHH: You have a song called “Babies” on the album where you speak about your daughters. How has being a father changed you as a man?

Sadat X: You gotta be a father, you gotta be a teacher, you gotta be a mentor. It’s taught me, man, this is my seeds and my blood, and I gotta prepare them for this world. This world is crazy, it’s changing, you see we can’t even go to the stores no more, to Walmart. I got a 30-year old daughter then I have a 2-year old daughter and there’s no telling in the next 20 years what’s gonna be going on with the rate that the world is going now I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be 20 years from now when she’s actually going out about in the world. So, I gotta prepare her and let her know about the pitfalls and the greatness of this world.

TRHH: Man, 30 and 2, that’s a pretty big gap. So, what did you learn from raising your 30-year old that you are implementing now?

Sadat X: Well, from my 30-year old some of the time I wasn’t around as much as I would like to be. That’s what I’m drawing on with my 2-year old daughter whereas with my 30-year old daughter I was still running around in the midst heavy of Brand Nubian shows then. So, a lot of the time I didn’t get as much time to build with her one-on-one. It’s important that you build with your kids one-on-one, teach them certain things, certain aspects of life and I kind of missed a lot of that with my first daughter. So, that’s what I’m trying to employ on this daughter, just actually being there.

TRHH: I first interviewed you in 2010 and I asked when we would hear a new Brand Nubian album…

Sadat X: I’m ready to do it, we just trying to coincide with everybody else. I’ve been talking to the brothers and I guess when it’s ready, it’s ready. Like I said, I’m always in the studio so I’m ready whenever.

TRHH: You still have hope, but do Jamar and Puba feel the same way?

Sadat X: I don’t know. That’s a good question, I don’t know. I have hope, but I can’t wait on that. And if we did do one it has to be a full concerted effort. I just don’t wanna throw nothing out there and tarnish the legacy. If it’s going to be some garbage I’ll leave it alone and we’ll just leave it where it is. But if we’re really going to get together, and work, and sit down, and conceptualize, and make topics, and get the right music, I’m for that.

TRHH: Who is the Science of Life album made for?

Sadat X: The Science of Life album is made for everybody. It’s made for people that work, that have children that are now on their own working and striving, that may even have some grandchildren now. It’s for people that work an honest 9-to-5 that come home, maybe want to kick off their shoes, have a beer, have a good meal, and listen to some Hip-Hop. It’s not like it’s an off switch. When you look in terms of music genres Hip-Hop is still defining itself. They put a cap on it, maybe 50-60 years. You’ve got compositions by Mozart, and Chopin, and Beethoven that are 300-years old that are standing the test of time. So, I believe that Hip-Hop is still making chambers and still defining itself, and I believe that there is a chamber for rappers of my generation. It gives hope when I see dudes like Masta Ace that are still making albums, and still being relevant and up on the times, and making good music. If you’re an OG and you’re gonna get on and play with it, I would tell you don’t do it. If you’re going to get on though and still have your lyrical words, and still be sharp, that’s the key and maybe that’ll bridge the gap.

A lot of the OG’s, we gotta be a little bit more willing to listen to the young bulls and the young bulls gotta be a little bit more willing to listen to us, but it’s gotta be a medium. You can’t beat nobody in the head. In reality, this is their time. This is their shine right now and you just gotta try to impart your wisdom on them and tell them like, “Look young boy, I know it’s your time but I just want you to think.” That’s what I do with the young boys when I see them, I be like, “I know what y’all doing and I see you, but just think about this and think about that, and you gonna do what you do regardless of what I tell you.” You’re going to do what you do. I did what I did when the OG’s told me back then. I listened, but ultimately, I did what I did. But in certain situations, a jewel from an OG would come into my head and I’d be like, “Oh yeah, I remember OG said this might happen, so maybe I’ll do it that way.” So, that’s what I’m trying to impart.

Purchase: Sadat X & Dough Networkz – Science of Life

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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