I’ve been working heavily on this "RedefineHipHop" History research project of mine. Primary goal has been trying to track down names and info about the most unknown, obscure, and unheard of artists. I’ve been procuring that info in a variety of ways. One such method is hitting up old Record Stores and going thru their Used Vinyl & CD collections looking for oddball releases, reading the credits and taking notes. At a semi-recent trip to a popular spot I noticed that I had never really paid attention to their extensive wall of Tapes (a.k.a a The J-Zone playground). I decided to give them a look, not expecting to find much. However, some of my best finds in a long while came from that wall! One was a Twin Cities release I had never heard of, X Government (blog on that coming soon!). Then I came across the Sah-B promo tape, I actually saw it and keep going, just assuming it was the tape single, since I knew the album never dropped. I went on to the next box and then I remembered that I have been wanting a instrumental for the B-side cut on her single so went back to check if it was on there and was shocked to find it was a promo for the whole album!! I has stand there in rap shock for a second. I pulled out the IPhone in doubt of myself. My first thought was, “Am I tripping? Did this album actually drop and I just not know it?” or was this promo already there on the internets. A few quick searches on key sites such as Philaflava.com seemed to suggest that this tape was as rare as my original shock suggested.
The production is as quality as you expect. I don’t have any credits, but I’m going to assume it is K-Def and Marley Marl holding it down. In any event, the production finds a nice balance between East Coast Jazzy and West Coast Riding music.
The album starts off with Sah-B having a discussion with Do It All from Lords Of The Underground. After some small talk chit chat they shift talk to admiring her shining moment on the L.O.T.U.G “Flow On” Remix while her verse plays in the background. It ends with Do It All popping that tape out and suggesting that’s enough of them dwelling on the L.O.T.U.G joints because he wants to hear “Some ‘Ol Sah-B S**t”.
That leads into the album title track, it was also the B-Side joint to her only 12” and it was the track that really sold me on being excited for more Sah-B music. It's one of those classic K-Def smooth, but hardcore tracks, which serves a perfect canvas for Sah-B to flex her skills. Thru out the album she kicks different flows, styles, topics, and all that, but she really only knows one delivery and approach; RUGGED!
“Do You Love Em Enough” is a story-telling joint about trying to decide if you want to rough it out and stay with your man when he gets locked up for being a knucklehead.
“Funk Feel” is a nice a Posse Cut with a few MCs; Two Male & One Female, I think. I don’t recognize any of them. One dude even spells his name, rather quickly, but I’m not sure I got it right; Breev Deggar?? It’s got a nice vibe and quality rhyming. This is a joint that I would have been rocking on the regular back in the days for sure.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/04-and-05-Funk-Feel-and-Shoe-Skit.mp3|titles=04 and 05-Funk Feel and Shoe Skit]
“Shoe Skit” is a pretty ridiculous skit about buying shoes, but ultimately it’s really about Sah-B flossing that she’s a rising store who can shop in closed stores, afford $145+ shoes, and has to rush off to video shoots… It’s certainly good for a laugh, but the album could do without it…I suppose that goes for skits on most albums though.
“Tales From Da Bricks” is dedicated to her stomping grounds; Newarks, NJ, particularly focusing on the fact how grimy it is. As part of that, she does a excellent job of painting a visual picture of a car-jacking, a popular “sporting-event” in the Bricks.
Her A-Single track, “Summa Day”, produced by Marley Marl, is next and it is just a good vibe track describing a variety of ways to spend your time on those hot Summer days. It’s a really mellow feel-good track.
I assume it was a strategic move to counter that laid back feeling with this next track, which ends Side A of the tape, with the most rugged and ill track on the album so far, “Unorthodox”. She comes in with “You want a diet, then get off this fat s**t!” On this joint she just taps in to her best qualities; she’s got this real rugged, but still slightly high-pitched voice that just attacks your eardrum and holds your attention. Add to that, she has a impeccable flow that can switch at a moments notice from precise on the beat to something more “Unorthodox”. This is definitely the joint I would have been rocking in the Hyundai and on Time Travel Radio back in the day.
“Give The People” is another one of those super ill tracks and has, what I recognize as, that K-Def stamp all over it. The vibe is so dope with those heavy drums, some “Long Red” stabs, and this country-lazy sounding bass…I mean that in a good-sounding way…ha. Sah-B just kicks some quality braggadocio rhymes, which is just what this beat is calling for.
“Caught Up” is another story joint. Talking about her school days. She particularly focuses on the girls who make bad choices in relationships, which lead to unwanted pregnancy and other drama.
“Don’t Flinch” is another rugged and moody joint. It sparks off with another MC I don’t recognize, possibly one of the guys from the other track, my voice recognition radar is on the fritz… He has a knack for saying simple things that come off catchy and sound fresh, even his extremely sparse and stripped down intro, “I think…I Write…I Rap/Therefore you clap”. Simple enough. He continues on, maintaining a cool, but strong presence. The last verse appears to be another MC. Both the first and last MC on the track mention “The US” so I’m guessing that might be a crew and they weren’t getting all patriotic in rap…ha.
Speaking of concepts, “Jabbo” is a nice one. OK, I don’t really know what the word means…ha. I gather in means someone who is useless… The chorus is, “Jabbo’s stay 3 feet cause all you do/is talk and lie and game..abuse”. The last verse helps put it in perspective, “Girls you know the guys that don’t work or don’t hustle/Straight up, ain’t doing a God Damn thing for you/You come home from work, you’re tired and disgusted/The lazy lima bean on the couch looking busted/For some reason you don’t want to be bothered/’Can you do this, Can you do that’, like he’s your father/No not this time, Sorry/Why Jabbo’s get mad when you tell em go get a job/You still love him so you going to let him stay/and being a lady you ask how was his day/He ain’t be job hunting, a Jabbo still broke/He tell you everything that happened on every show/Loving (?) at 12:30, my kitchen is still dirty/All my children at 1, the laundry ain’t done/One Live To Live without nothing to give/Watch some episodes about soap operas, come on kid/Turning me off, won’t you turn me on/And get a J-O-B, working morn to morn/Cause right now things are getting kind of intense, s**t/I don’t care what you do…sell some incense/You can’t live for free, remember that YO/Or you’ll be labeled all your life as a sorry ass Jaboo”…ha. I love the fact that she called him a “Lazy Lima Bean”…classic. It's also worth mentioning that the subject of ridicule, a.k.a Jabbo, in the first verse is clowned and pushed to the side because he gets scared during a car-jacking that Sah-B handles fearlessly like a O.G...now that's gangster.
“What’s Up For Tonight” sounds like the song that an A&R would be picking for the next single. It’s got a bouncy beat and a catchy/sing-songy chorus, although on the verses Sah-B still keeps it rough.
The album closes with “That’s How It Is In The Biz” which serves as a bio of her history in the game. It chronicles the days from winning talent shows, meeting Marley Marl, rocking with L.O.T.U.G, and life up to her debut single and starting to reap the benefits of the “rap life”. The last verse talks about the problems of dealing with people once you start to get some traction in the business and how you attract the fakes and also find out some of those you thought were you friends are quickly to lose sight of the root of that relationship. It’s a nice joint to end on. Unfortunately, I suppose it’s ironic that her album, that never came out, ends on a song about the struggles of the business that found itself buried on tape lost for years in the dying breed that is called a record store, only to be found by some guy researching information for artists that the industry chose to forget about…
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/15-and-16-Thats-How-It-Is-In-The-Biz-and-Mr-Funky-Outro.mp3|titles=15 and 16-That's How It Is In The Biz and Mr Funky Outro]
Oh yeah, before “Jabbo” there is “Telephone Scene”, which is another un-needed skit. However, it is perhaps worth mentioning that all the three skits are tied together to a concept, although not a great one really. She starts off the album trying to get to the mall. On “Shoe Skit” she has made it and by now on the “Telephone Scene” she’s stranded there. I don’t really know what the connection is, it moreso seems like they were just trying to push to have skits on the album. It’s not like they are supporting a album title theme because the 12” stated the album was titled “Some Ol Sah-B S**t” so that’s pretty basic and to the point, nothing to conceptual. The album ends with the last skit in the series that has her finally getting a ride from Mr Funky of L.O.T.U.G and him giving her props for the album. Perhaps the most-clever part of it all is that they ride off listening to the last song on the album….
All in all, this is a solid debut that I feel confident I would have been happy with had it dropped in '94 as planned. Of course, you should know that many unreleased albums are that way for a reason...they just weren't good enough. I feel like the album problem with this album, from a Major Label stand-point, was that it didn't have any obvious singles to push and it had weak skits. It was just a solid underground rap album...apparently that used to be a bad thing, now it's just a rare thing.
I suppose it’s a bit greedy to say, but after hearing this album I keep hoping someone stumbles across the original reels or DAT tapes for this album and unearths the instrumentals!! I would like to confirm if K-Def did it all or who is behind the production. I do know that hearing this makes me want to go out and immediately buy those K-Def 90s beat tape CDs and/or vinyl he put out. The man is a production mastermind that hardly gets enough praise. I’m actually going to drop this Sah-B on my IPOD and go track down some more K-Def beats now…
Written, with child-like excitement, By Kevin Beacham