by RiotSound contributing writer Todd Davis
In case you didn’t know, Sadat X, member of legendary Hip-Hop trio Brand Nubian and the self-proclaimed “Dot Father” is back. Following a two-plus year hiatus, the veteran MC is still kickin’ knowledge and taking no shorts with the release of his latest LP, Generation X. Originally debuting with Brand Nubian all the way back in ‘89, Dotty X has remained a musical force to be reckoned with for nearly two decades. Comprised of Grand Puba, Sadat X and Lord Jamar, Brand Nubian continues to garner acclaim from fans and critics alike as rap aficionados have been “waking up” and then “slowing down” to the group’s unique medley of classic Hip-Hop. Wielding streetwise afro-centric rhymes heavily inspired by the teachings of the Nation of Islam as well as the Nation of The Gods and The Earths, all of the group’s three members have also pursued successful solo careers. Sadat X, or rather Derek X, as he was originally known, has returned with his, count ‘em, fifth solo opus, Generation X, and, truthfully, ain’t a damn thing changed…
SADAT X: Generation X represents the grown up generation in Hip-Hop – my generation that grew up.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Who did you work with on this new project?
SADAT X: I worked mainly with producer Will Tell on this album. I also have Thirstin Howl III and [Boot Camp Clik affiliate] Twanie Ranks on it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What prompted your decision to have a newer or perhaps lesser known producer handle the whole record?
SADAT X: Well, Will Tell, he’s actually not really a new producer. He did a lot of work with Brooklyn Academy, which was, you know, back then. I knew him and I had did previous projects with him. We hooked up one day and we did a couple of songs and it sounded good. And, actually, we just kept going.
RIOTSOUND.COM: When working with a producer such as Will Tell, how much overall input do you have on the actual track itself?
SADAT X: Well, basically, you know, I try to work hand in hand with the producer. I like to know what he’s doing and just kinda work with it and give [a song] a certain feel, a personalized feel, as opposed to just taking a track from somebody.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Generation X also marks your first album on new indie label Affluent Records; what made you decide to sign with Affluent?
SADAT X: I had a prior relationship with Oscar [Sanchez, President and CEO of Affluent] when he worked at Loud Records. So when he offered the one album deal, I was comfortable with it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Going back to the very beginning, how did you initially become interested in Hip-Hop?
SADAT X: Well, I grew up within a musical household that was always playing music. And basically, I guess it just came on the heels of that. There was always music around when I was growing up and I learned an appreciation for music and for the artist at an early age. I would also go to the local rap parties in the Bronx. That is what really got me interested in rap.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Whose music did you grow up listening to?
SADAT X: There was always James Brown played in the house and Marvin Gaye. And then I had a lot of access to some of the early [Hip-Hop] acts like [Afrika Bambaataa & The] Jazzy 5, Cold Crush Brothers, Funky 4 + 1, groups like that.
RIOTSOUND.COM: At what point did you start taking MCing seriously?
SADAT X: When Brand Nubian did our first album, One For All. When I was coming out, it wasn’t like too much commercialized [Hip-Hop] music. So, [the album] basically came out of just the love of it and just to see it done.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Just so all the fans know – how did Brand Nubian first come together as a group?
SADAT X: The group came together, you know, being that we were all based out of New Rochelle, New York at the time. I was working on a solo project and Grand Puba was working on a project and Lord Jamar [was as well]. And actually Puba had been out previously with a group called Masters of Ceremony, and he basically just took a liking to us and took us into the fold and began teaching us and we learned from him.
RIOTSOUND.COM: When Brand Nubian first broke up, what caused the rift?
SADAT X: Well, you gotta understand, we hadn’t been a group, we were all solo artists that came together to make that album as Brand Nubian. But before that each of us were basically in our own separate group. So we knew at some point there would be a breakup. But it wasn’t too much tension, you know – like in a family, you fight with your brother sometimes and then you get back and you come together [again]. So, basically that’s what we did.
RIOTSOUND.COM: So what is the status of Brand Nubian now?
SADAT X: We are planning another album together; we’re getting the music together now. It’s in the early stages and we have started throwing around ideas and seeing who we’re gonna get to produce some of the songs. Right now it’s still in the planning stage.
RIOTSOUND.COM: So yourself, Lord Jamar and Grand Puba still communicate regularly?
SADAT X: Oh, yeah, definitely! We speak daily and we see each other daily. Each of us does have families so that cuts into the time but we still are basically around each other. [Grand Puba and Lord Jamar] are doing real good and continuing their solo careers as well.
RIOTSOUND.COM: In light of the recent airing of VH1’s annual Hip-Hop Honors awards; why do you think Brand Nubian has yet to receive this accolade? Do you all believe you’ve gotten your just due as pioneers in Hip-Hop?
SADAT X: I do feel in a way that we’ve paved the road for newcomers and hopefully at some point we will be honored. A lot of people always ask, “well, how come they didn’t honor you all yet?” And, I tell ‘em, [VH1 Hip-Hop Honors] only been around for about three or four years in existence, and there’s a lot of groups. I mean, you got groups like EPMD that haven’t been honored yet, and Kool G Rap hasn’t been honored yet. So I guess you just have to take the time and fall into the rotation.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How did you come to be known as Sadat X?
SADAT X: Sadat is from Anwar Sadat, he was a leader in Egypt. X is unknown; that’s taken from the 5% doctrine.
RIOTSOUND.COM: For those who might still not fully understand, how would you define the style of music that you create?
SADAT X: I would just describe it as just real Hip-Hop. When you come to my show, I’m doing the record live. I’m usually on stage by myself and I’m interacting with the crowd and just giving ‘em a whole total performance. Everything [I rhyme about] is from the truth and other teachers; we follow the Five-Percent Nation.
RIOTSOUND.COM: How have you seen Hip-Hop evolve during your lengthy tenure in the business?
SADAT X: Times change, music changes, I don’t hate on it. I wish it was a little more rounded out, but Hip-Hop and rap has definitely gained from technology – worldwide. Back when I was coming out there was no internet or anything like that so it wasn’t as easy, as accessible, as it is now. Now it’s accessible to all.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Speaking of that, the digital age that we are now living in offers many benefits but it has also negatively impacted not only the industry, but the pockets of individual artists as well…
SADAT X: Yeah, well, you know, I know everybody wants to hear some of the music before it comes out, but I just wish people would realize that it’s taking away from the artist. We have to live on this and that cuts into our living expenses. We have families and [responsibilities] and bills to pay, so that kinda puts a dent into that.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Are you a fan of any of today’s Hip-Hop music?
SADAT X: Well, some of it I care for, some of it I don’t. I realized that it’s a changing, fun based industry now and I try not to hate on the new [trends]. I kinda keep a well rounded perspective of it.
RIOTSOUND.COM: Besides music, what are some of your future goals and aspirations?
SADAT X: I would like to go back to the teaching aspect. Also I coach basketball so I’m highly involved in that aspect too. I plan on going back to school, continuing to work with kids and doing voiceovers and acting.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What do you think people would be most surprised to know about you?
SADAT X: I mean, just know I’m a family man. I have a seventeen year old daughter and she’s a senior in high school now. I [also] play basketball, go to the gym, I am an avid reader and I’m active in the community. People see me, I’m easy accessible and I’m just a regular person basically.
RIOTSOUND.COM: So, those are some of the things that you enjoy doing in your free time?
SADAT X: [And] traveling – been to Africa, Brazil, etcetera. If it wasn’t for Hip-Hop I probably would have never been to those places. So I guess traveling, you know, getting to see the world, meeting people and changing your views on people and just learning to judge people on an individual status for who they are.
RIOTSOUND.COM: What do you feel has been the key to your longevity?
SADAT X: My voice – and, I have stayed true to Hip-Hop and I haven’t been a gimmick!
RIOTSOUND.COM: Any message for our readers?
SADAT X: Just for the readers to go out and get the new album, Generation X. I think it’ll be a good purchase. It’s good Hip-Hop, it’s real Hip-Hop, and it’s coming from the soul of Sadat X.
For more news and info on Sadat X stay tuned to www.MySpace.com/SadatX