Sabac Interview Exclusive /// 2004

sabac.jpg1. Tell us a bit about the early days, how did you first get into MC’ing? Was there always a political/social motivation?

Sabac: I first began as a B-Boy and Graff writer. I sucked at Graff and was an ok B-Boy. Growing up in Brooklyn NY hip hop was all over the place so I delved into all elements. I even promoted parties at 15 years old for Big Daddy Kane, Milk and Giz, T-LaRock, and many others. I used to hand out flyers and make money and the door the night of the party. It was dope being 15 making doe and promoting hip hop. I guess I was around 12 or 13 years old, I used to listen to the night time radio shows here in NYC (when they were dope) and would remember all the lyrics to my favorite songs. One day I forgot the lyrics to a RunDMC song and began spiting my own lyrics off the head to continue the song and catch up. I was like dam I could do this shit and began free styling every minute of the day. I would also write and battle other MC’s in my school. In the beginning I used to write about girls, hanging out, how “fresh” I was, and stories about being rich, some real young shit. A few years later a black kid got killed in Brooklyn by some white kids, and my school along with 50 other public schools were asked to enter an essay contest with the topic being Racism. I asked the teacher if I could write a rap, she said yes. I won first place, got money, an article in the NY Daily News and was presented with an award by the Brooklyn Borough President at a ceremony. Shit felt great. From there on I realized I can use my skill for something good.

2. We saw on the ‘Green DVD’ a tiny bit of you doing your thing at the City Kids Foundation, tell us about that, how does that fit in with what must already be a hectic schedule?

Sabac: I was introduced to CityKids in High School. I had done some dumb shit and had to do community service and chose CityKids. It was a great place to learn and expand my talent. After I graduated HS I continued to get training as a Facilitator and youth developer. As years went on I became the Director of Programs. I design curriculums and train young people to help one another with issues like gangs, violence, media and many other issues. CityKids has always been very supportive of my music career and allowed me to take time off to tour and record. I recently resigned in June cause touring was to hectic. Now I freelance with them and other organizations.

3. Congratulations on ‘Sabacolypse’, its been getting some nice reviews around these parts. How has the album been received in the States?

Sabac: Thanks. Here in the states the album is doing well. Of course I wish it would do better but it’s an independent album so we shipped like 17,000 copies and I have sold over 10,000 so far.

4. What about overseas? Have you had much feedback?

Sabac: Overseas is great. The love is fantastic. From Holland, Greece, Germany, Spain all over. We recently in Bogot, Colombia there were 15,000 people there and a lot of them new my album. It feels great.

5. The album covers a pretty broad range of subject matter, how long did it take to put together?

Sabac: Well, my cover did not take very long. I had a bunch of other ideas for my cover but all the artists I hollered at couldn�t really capture what I wanted. So me and Necro were like fuck it lets take a picture. I used the mask to reflect protest. When I protest or rally I don�t want the feds, etc knowing my identity. Che is an influence on me so I figured to put him on there as well, plus for those who my have never heard of me can get an idea of what the album is about.

6. Australia’s own ‘Stealth Magazine’ described it as “articulate social and political fury”, but it has a definite note of optimism with tracks like ‘I Have A Dream’ and “A Change Gon’ Come’, is that fairly indicative of your mind set going into the project?

Sabac: I defiantly wanted to express my frustration with the world’s issues, but also offer some solutions and some optimism. If all I do is complain than where and when does the change come into play. Some people consider this to be an album of revolution and it is but in the sense of internal and external revolution.

7. On the back of the record, each track is marked symbolically (Truth, Awareness, Vision etc.), is this to clarify the context in which we should listen to the tracks? Where did this idea come from?

Sabac: Me and Necro were driving home fro the studio one night like 5am and we were listening to Protest Music and I started to talk about ho this song is like taking action and organize is like a possible solution and awareness for the people. Necro was like let’s put icons/symbols by the tracks so people get it because you can’t have this convocation with everyone. I was with it.

8. Going back to ‘I Have A Dream’, the song tells us of your dream where “hip hop entertains and remains informative”, was this a particular focus for you putting this record together?

Sabac: In a sense. I always knew I wanted to put out a full album of songs that would entertain and teach. In the state of music today there just isn’t enough of it, and why not its who I am what I do and what I believe. So yes the focus was to drop an album like this.

9. At the beginning of ‘Fight Until The End’ you talk about police brutality still being a big problem in the U.S. Do you feel like society has become a bit complacent about the subject?

Sabac: Yes. After 9/11 everyone was like “the cops did such a great job” etc, and they did, but that did not stop or take back all the wrongs. I felt I wanted to create this song to continue to let people know this is an issue. Just because we may not hear about the injustices on the news does not mean it does not exist. I know people who get harassed ever day by the police. I also wanted to offer some information on how to stop or control it, that’s why my last verse has some real tangible things one can do in the community to prevent police brutality.

10. On the track ‘Organize’, and also ‘Freestyle Freedom’ you say that you believe in the mentality that if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. Do you think this kind of philosophy is a bit lacking in hip hop today? Too many crews believing their own hype?

Sabac: Well not only in Hip Hop but in the world. I feel most people stand for something but it’s what they stand for or don’t stand for that may be the issue. Some people stand for hate, violence, war and it’s there right to but, I want to offer alternatives.

11. You have some familiar voices on the record (Necro, Vinnie Paz, Immortal Technique and others), but one I don’t think many of us were familiar with was Cenophia Mitchell, what’s her story?

Sabac: Cenophia has been my friend since 1993. I met her at CityKids along with Antwon Lamar Robinson who sings on A change Gon’ Come. (CityKids got some talent Holla). She’s from Queen’s bridge projects home of Nas, Mobb Deep, etc and a great singer, writer, human being. I always wanted to work with her so when I did “Say Goodbye to Yesterday” (The Future Is Now) I wrote her in the song. She came to the studio and killed it! When I was working on Sabacolypse I knew I wanted her on there so I made sure I wrote some parts for her. She�s dope.

12. Speaking of guest spots, you’ve said previously on that all of your collabs have been with friends, but do you often get approached to do a guest spot/collab for somebody you don’t really know?

Sabac: Yes especially since Sabacolypse dropped. It’s cool but sometimes it’s out of line. There are cat’s out there like “I’m working on my demo can you get on there with me”. People need to understand this is my life and every move I make is crucial to the development of my career. I hate to tell people they suck and I will never do shit with you. That’s not how I am so I just tell them I can’t sorry but good luck. Also people want shit for free. If you really want me or Ill Bill, Gore-Tex etc you need to have some doe cause we need to eat and chances are if your unknown you need us we don’t need you, so pay us and even than if were not feeling your shit we won’t do it no matter how much you pay. I have and will continue to do songs with my people’s for free and they know who they are because if you hollered at me and I said I’m down you know I’m down. I like doing collabos with artists overseas. The vibes are usually better, no ego’s.

13. With your LP, Bill’s LP, Goretex’s LP, his own LP, (and that’s just the start), Necro has really been pushing himself this year. Not to downplay the man’s genius, but it’s a lot of work! Have you guys ever considered adding another producer to the Psycho + Logical stable?

Sabac: There’s no need to. Necro has proved he could do it. Why work with other producers when Necro has bangers. As much work as it may be, it could be even more work working with other producers. For PLR it’s strictly Necro. For Uncle Howie and the next NonPhixion Album that’s a different situation. Necro makes beats, and runs a label so he’ll continue to do it all.

14. There’s a fair bit of anticipation for ‘The Nuclear Truth’ amongst the fans, with solo albums keeping them at bay (barely), how are you guys feeling about the upcoming album?

Sabac: Were all very excited for the next album. People are anticipating it and we will not disappoint the fans. Were working on it right now, and I will tell you it’s coming out sick!! NonPhixion “The Nuclear Truth” 2005!!

15. I’ve read Bill wanted to work with a lot of the producers you used on ‘The Future Is Now’ for the new LP, how are things looking on that front?

Sabac: things are looking great. We always knock out the songs with the in house produces first than record the others. Some of the outside producers are busy but are committed so we will definitely have some of the same producers and the album will be crazy.

16. Apart from a hefty release schedule you and the other fellas from NonPhixion have also embarked on a European tour and the Warp tour, with the new LP coming you don’t show any signs of slowing down, any chance we’ll see you down here in 2005?

Sabac: Hell yeah!!! I can’t wait to get to Australia. We are currently working with a promoter now. We were supposed to be there in January but it looks as if it’s going to be in February 2005. It’s looking like a 6 city tour in Australia. Can�t wait, hot weather, beautiful scenery, dope people. I heard we have a bunch of fans there so I’m excited to come to Australia. Check for tour dates.

17. You’ve mentioned previously that a couple of your boys have visited Australia, have you heard anything much of oz hip hop?

Sabac: Not really but I will definitely ask them.

18. What’s the radio climate like in the U.S these days? There seems to be an abundance of quality coming out lately, and you seem to be touring pretty successfully, but are the radio stations showing any interest?

Sabac: Fuck the radio!!! There are only a few stations that show us love and most of them are college stations. The program directors at these major stations want money to play shit. Fuck that we ain’t paying you shit. If you like us, play us if not fuck you!!

19. Aside from the radio how’s the scene looking generally speaking any up and comers we should keep an ear out for?

Sabac: To be honest I have not really been paying attention to anyone outside the PLR/UH camp. I’m sure there are dope MC’s out, but I have been focused on the crew. So check for Q-Unique, E-Dot and MR Hyde. Also, Block Mcloud, King Syze of course Immortal Technique and Doujah Raze. NonPhixion, Necro, Jedi Mind Tricks I’m sure people know of.

20. Obviously information/education is pretty high on your list of priorities, and on the back of ‘Sabacolypse’ we see you in a book store, so drop us a couple of titles you’d consider essential reading.

Sabac: Let me just say reading is very important and what interests me may not interest others so I’ll say find book and subjects that interest you. I can list a bunch of books but people may not find the interesting. Although right now I’m reading “Lies my teacher told Me” and “The Davinchi code”.

Sabacolypse: A Change Gon’ Come is out now on Psycho+Logical-Records thru Method/Shock

[alert type=blue ]This article was written for by regular contributor James S. [/alert]

[alert type=white ]Ⓒ All Rights Reserved 2002 /// This article originally appeared here on the Forums [/alert]