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Black October

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Album Review

Although Brand Nubian are now considered one of the wellsprings of what is sometimes derisively referred to as "backpack" rap (for the bookbags favored by fans of this literate, low-key style) and Sadat X has maintained a career as an elementary school teacher and coach throughout his long and somewhat sporadic career, bad things happen all the time. Caught by the police in possession of a loaded handgun at a time and place where he should not have been carrying, Sadat X recorded Black October with the weight of a potential year in prison hanging over him. And yet this is not one of those gangsta records who fronts about the roughneck glories of incarceration: in those passages (even outside of the direct and to-the-point title track) where Sadat X appears to be addressing his legal trouble, thoughtful regret and anxiety color his rhymes. Far from bragging, this album tends to be genuinely remorseful, even on tracks not directly related to the matter at hand: for example, "If You" continues the baleful tone, a matter of fact portrayal of a neighborhood gang scuffle without a hint of glamour or bad-boy cool. Even the handful of lighter tracks, like the Brand Nubian reunion "Chosen Few" and the basketball-as-life metaphor "Throw Tha Ball," are tinged with sadness and stiff upper lip resolve. A mature and deeply personal record, Black October is the truth behind the gangsta façade.


Born: 29 December 1968 in New Rochelle, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a member of Brand Nubian, Sadat X (born Derek Murphy) was one of the key MCs who related messages inspired by the Five Percent Nation. Two years after Brand Nubian's third album, Everything Is Everything, he made his solo debut with Wild Cowboys, which built on his lyrical reputation on top of tough, jazz-inflected arrangements. The album, featuring production from Diamond D and Buckwild, was a solid solo debut that didn't quite scale the heights of his legacy with Brand Nubian. No Better Way,...
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Black October, Sadat X
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