Over the nearly six year history of this site, Brooklyn-based emcee Shabaam Sahdeeq has become a JOVM mainstay artist, who I’ve written about on a number of occasions. Last year marked Sahdeeq’s 20th year as a recording and touring artist, and having that kind of a longevity in a fickle industry that values youth and the hottest new thing instead of wisdom and experience is an accomplishment. And to do so while being remarkably prolific and as forceful as ever is an even rarer one.
Of course, lasting two decades in an increasingly unstable music industry says something much deeper and far more important — that the artist in question has an unquenchable passion for creating that feels as though their life is dependent on it. In a great deal of contemporary pop music, such passion paired with wisdom and experience is rare; after all, there’s a general sense that once a pop or a hip-hop artist reaches their late 30s and early 40s that they should be slowing down before entering a period of irrelevance, followed by a slow and painful senescence. Thankfully, in the case of hip-hop, as many of the genre’s beloved and influential artists have started to age well into their 40s and 50s, a number of them have actively (and openly) refused to go quietly into the good night. And Shadeeq has added himself to an increasingly lengthy list with the release of the Modern Artillery EP through Dutch/Swedish label, Elite Fleet Records late last year.
Sahdeeq follows up Modern Artillery with the forthcoming release of Timeless: The Collection. The album’s first single “GMR” has the JOVM mainstay emcee teaming up with another JOVM mainstay, the renowned Long Island-born, Brooklyn-based DJ, producer and emcee J57. Best known as a member of the equally renowned Brown Bag All-Stars and his collaborations with fellow Brown Bag All-Star Koncept, J57 has received attention and critical praise for a production style that channels and is indebted the sound of hip-hop’s golden age — i.e., big, boom bap beats, heavy synth-based orchestration paired with ridiculously tight, catchy hooks. Interestingly, as a result of being mentored by the legendary DJ Premier, the Brooklyn-based producer, DJ and emcee has assisted Premier on production work with the likes of Nas, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, and that has led to collaborations with the likes of Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Method Man, Raekwon, Mack Wilds, The Roots and others. Additionally, “GMR” features scratching and cutting from DJ Eclipse — making the track a showcase of some of the Northeast’s finest artists. Sonically speaking, huge boom-bap beats, twinkling and atmospheric synths ethereally yet menacingly floating and darting through the mix paired with the aforementioned DJ Eclipse’s incredible, old-school inspired cutting and Sahdeeq’s dexterous and inimitable flow. Lyrically, the Brooklyn-based emcee rhymes about something that countless real hip-hop heads have complained about for some time — the proliferation of rappers, jumping up on the stage or spitting on wax without understanding hip-hop culture or knowing how much skill and practice that it takes to rock a stage. While calling his music “grown man rap,” he’ll admit that everyone has their own tastes and preferences, even if he doesn’t quite understand why someone would be into something that’s corny and superficial — and it he does with a forcefulness and hunger that many younger artists lack.
The recently released music video features the incredibly talented Brooklyn-based emcee on the streets of my beloved city, including several stops in midtown and downtown Manhattan, while he rhymes and is creating, then finishing some of his own art work in an attempt to mesh art and hip-hop in a similar fashion to how art school students meshed their love of art to rock.