Review: Sadat X, “Black October”

Sadat X
Black October
Riverside Drive Records

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

As I sit here looking at the track listing for Sadat X’s Black October, I’m impressed by his choice of producers. There are a good mix of under-stream superstars (DJ Spinna, Diamond, Da Beatminerz, J-Zone), and a few that I’ve never heard of before (Scotty Blanco, the Asmatik, DJ Pawl of Hangar 18). I’m all for that because if I hear another overpriced garbage-ass track from some established producer (read: the last 3 Scott Storch tracks I heard), I’m going to puke.

Does Sadat still got what it takes? You COT DAMNED RIGHT! Yeah, yeah, Wild Cowboys (1996) was tight. The State of New York vs. Derek Murphy (2000) was a-ight (insert “so-so” hand gesture here). As for Experience & Education (2005), I didn’t even know that shit came out until way later, and when I did hear it, I was pretty damned disappointed.

But I’m tellin’ you, Black October is worth the listen.

Right off top, the title track comes in and let’s you know that this ain’t the same Sadat X from 1990. Things done changed. Mr. “Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down” fucked around and caught a case, and he’s due to start a stretch in the Bing. [In fact, he went to jail last October, and is now serving a year-long bid at Riker’s Island.] Initially, as he takes us through his thoughts regarding his situation, I’m left with the feeling that being incarcerated is merely an inconvenience for young Derek. But as I continue to listen, I realize that I’m listening to a stand-up guy who realizes that maybe he could have done things differently, but it’s too late now. Might as well make the best of it.

“Throw the Ball” is a soulful track produced (surprisingly well) by Ayatollah. This joint feels like a family reunion that just landed on your eardrum. I can smell the barbecue and almost see my old drunk Uncle Punch doing the “Watch out now!!” dance that has everybody laughing and shaking their heads at the same time. Other standouts include “Tha Post” (Diamond is still the man); “On Tha Come Thru” and “X Is A Machine.” Even the songs I didn’t like weren’t due to a lack of polish, talent or delivery (“Million Dollar Deal,” “Untraceable” and “Who”). The one Brand Nubian track on the album, “Chosen Few,” didn’t have the fire that I was hoping for. X did his thing, but the group’s trademark militant swagger just wasn’t there.

Black October’s weak spot would have to be Greg Nice’s production on “My Mind.” A sorely played out R. Kelly sample combined with keyboard sounds that are a bad imitation of Too Short circa 1987, left me with a “where the fuck did that come from?” face. This track is sorely out of place, despite Sadat X’s sharp spits.

The album ends with a 5 minute monologue from Sadat X regarding his situation. He lays out the story behind his incarceration for you, and clears up any misgivings you may have received from the press or the streets. This is actually the most intriguing portion of the record. He ends the album the way he began it. He doesn’t dodge the bullet. He knows he could have done things differently, but it’s too late and he’s come to rest easy with the consequences. In the end, he tells you that this won’t hold him down and he WILL be back. I hope he will, especially with an album like Black October. We could use a little more of his honesty.

— Marc Stretch

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