January 20th was a big day – and not just because it was my birthday. While a lot of heads were busy checking for the new Lupe and Joey Bada$$ albums, I was checking for my pre-order of that new Sadat X album. Was it worth the wait? In short, yes. The aptly titled Never Left, which is X’s 10 solo album, serves as a salute to the city of New York, a pound to real heads and a testament to his 25 year legacy.
The album kicks off with We In New York City, an ode to his hometown. If you’ve never been there this track may not appeal you, but that’s ok. It’s not really for you. For some of you instantly alienated listeners the album actually begins with track 3, I Know This Game, where Sadat X puts the game on blast, and discusses the state of the industry, namely the degradation of the power that record labels once held.
“I know some A&R’s that now wash cars, they decided rap stars when they was in power…
Sony fired everybody, everybody sour…now rap moguls gotta blend with the locals…”
As we continue along, we come to What Up Kid, which is essentially cautionary words of advice to the younger generation – much like Slick Rick’s Hey Young World. This is one of the more serious notes on the album, as is Ya Live & Ya Learn, which sees X discussing his past legal and marital issues: “…when I went o jail I lost my wife…on that particular day I had the gun, wasn’t plannin’ on killing no one, I had a street beef…”
Are there features, yes! Are they crutches? Nope. They are prefect compliments to the vibe. The album (most notably to me) has 16’s from Black Rob (Get Yours), west coast legend King T (Sliddin‘), Blacksheep/Evitan’s Dres (Get Right) and Cormega on the already released single On Fire. Also, one of my fave moments on the album, Ain’t Nothin Funny, features Craig G and Skyzoo.
The only misstep for me was the Fokus, Nasty Ness and Chi Ali assisted Put It On Me. I found the reggae flow really out of place on this album.
Overall it’s an amazing listen. A great addition was the mini story/interludes where he talks about his first show, his legendary session with B.I.G, meeting Jay-Z, seeing Nas at his shows and his relationship with 2Pac. Aside from giving rap nerds something to talk about, they really help illustrate the influence and respect Sadat has amongst his peers in the music racket.
The album ends with the title cut, which is fitting. Rap changed, times changed, but Sadat never changed his style or ideology for the industry. He never left!