There are certain moments in a man’s life when he chooses a direction. Sometimes the direction he chooses bites him directly in the ass and comes back to haunt, other times not so much . This is the story of several bites...
Musab, self-admitted, doesn’t think in the narrow halls of Rap only. When asked, who are some of the most influential of emcees to him, he threw me a curveball. “I don\'t really believe in the best MC. My favorite contributor to music is Bob Marley. As an artist of music, you wanna make great music, but you\'re really judged by how your music bleeds into society”. Not stopping for a second Sab digs deeper for an explanation. “I think whatever country you live in; you love Bob Marley. The Beatles their influence on music is great, what they\'ve done for pop music, being that first super group. I got to give a shout out to Tom Waits, he’s probably the most original artist in music. The goal is to try to be original and Tom Waits takes that to a new level”.
Sab, A lyricist strong in street cred and experience due to a less than traditional childhood, didn’t start organizing his music industry skills until he was about 18. According to Sab, talent wasn’t enough back in the day. “I knew how to rap, but I didn\'t know how to push the envelope.” Then it all changed for Sab when he hooked up with legendary producer Ant, and picked up the missing components he needed to become an artist, rather than just a rapper. “When I met Ant in ’93, I would just write and write. Ya know, when you would just write rhymes and they were like three pages long? Ant taught me how to separate and organize your thoughts. How to write in spaces, bars and choruses”.
After successfully working alongside Ant, the underground Hip Hop sound was taking off and Musab became known as one of the original laborers of what would soon become R.S.E. (Rhyme Sayers Entertainment). Owned and operated by Slug (Atmosphere), Musab helped create the vibe for several critically acclaimed albums, and super-group efforts such as Dynospectrum. In 1996, Sab released his first solo effort, under the moniker Beyond Comparison and during this time he really began to create himself a niche. Working and learning from many in the industry. One individual changed his mindset about live performances. “Mos Def, I’ve seen him live and I got to meet him a while back. This is back in the golden era of Hip Hop. It\'s great how he connects with the crowd, and he taught me a lot about Hip Hop. A lot of MC\'s get twisted live, they don’t really know how to project their words live. There’s a time to send flow to the crowd”.
Then in 2002, on his final RSE release Respect The Life, Sab hit the ground running with what he felt was the real him. “I dropped Beyond and went with Musab. I wanted to make more personal music, I was talking about how I grew, my experiences in life and it just happened to be different. I\'m a gentleman, but when I decided to do this on Respect The Life, the RSE crew went right, I went left…and that was kind of obvious”. Trying to choose his words carefully, Sab finished his thought. “I said ok, I stepped back for a second and I got some personal things right".
And now, its five years later, and Sab has been wrecking the mic on his own this whole time. Whether some would say harnessing his anger at the developments of his last L.P. or just getting his sound sharpened, a new record was destined to be born sooner or later. “I take the record and I have a meeting at RSE, and they\'re like alright, let me check it out, record was already mixed, I wait a few months I hear no word back”. Now here’s where my previous opinion (link of review) of the situation ran its course. “There was already strife, I waited four months, I got my own money, I let ‘em know right away, I took it over to A+ (Hieroglyphics Records) , and they came back at me three hours later”. In my review, I stated the record seemed a bit disloyal, as there were seemingly a few cheap shots at RSE, most particularly Atmosphere. Musab wants everyone to know, it’s not a beef, or a brawl, it’s just him cutting loose. For instance, the final track on the new disc, Kool Aid (Ghetto Juice), which displays a fearsome Musab cutting up Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love." And I\'m cutting through the Atmosphere, like there\'s a motherf*cking mack in here. So I asked Sab about his lyrical intent. “Thats not a shot at Atmosphere I just got off the phone with Slug twenty minutes ago. I\'m looking at it like, I\'m not gonna beat around the words. It’s in a sense of; The atmosphere of the music. Yeah, I am chasing in Slug’s footsteps, so I guess it could be taken like that. But there’s no harm in the matter”.
Rather than avoiding it like the plague, Sab further attacked the question like a panther, and you can’t feel anything but respect for that kind of honesty. “As far as the lack of the loyalty thing goes, I never even did anything outside of the label, every piece I’ve ever made was on RSE, and I\'m happy for everybody\'s success. Staying monotone, but firm and seemingly very truthful, Sab was just getting started on the subject. “Ant was my producer, they took the blueprint, (its) the fertilizer... there was no lack of loyalty on my side, it was the other way around. I gave them the opportunity, but Rhyme Sayers never went to bat for me -and I got tired of it . At Hiero, Del Tha Funky Homosapien will sell 100,000 records, Casual will release a record, and wont do near Del\'s numbers but that wont affect Casual’s status at the label".
Don’t be fooled though, produced by King Karnov, and co-mixed by Sab himself Slicks Box is a breath of fresh air for not just hip hop, but what has become a stale scenario in an underground hip hop scene that seems to be resting on it\'s laurels. Though he’s no longer with RSE, for one reason or another, it’s the future Sab sees with Hiero that has him brimming with MusabMac self-esteem. “I\'m so excited about Hiero. There was a point and time they were like my idols, that’s why it feels so good to be around them. I just came off tour with A+ and I\'m going on with Del in the fall. It just feels good, the chemistry seems to be on”.
So in the end, it should be known I gave Musab’s new release Slicks Box, 4.5 out of 5 stars to spite what seemed to be a lack of loyalty. Otherwise this album is slick, and won’t wear anytime soon. Though I won’t change my rating, it surely has come back to bite me in the ass. The question is, will snubbing Musab come back to bite RSE in the ass?