Premiered via Mass Appeal, “Play to Win” is the world’s first listen at what’s to come on October 14th with Shabaam Sahdeeq, Edo. G and producer Fokis’ collaborative Recognize Your Power EP. This is basically text book definition of contemporary boom-bap. It almost feels wrong to use the word contemporary, as the single embodies every spec of the traditional recipe from the yesteryears that we love dearly, but it’s here in 2016 and it sounds glorious. Do you mind if we take a moment and cherish hip-hop royalty? Good, because we are anyway. Two heavyweight, seasoned microphone chemists coming together at a time when the questionable is questioned. At a time when your average 30-something year old has turned their attention off to the current state of hip-hop. A time when we need collaborations like this the most. Aesthetics aside, the mere fact of a collaborative effort from any veteran emcees is applaudable and saluted to a high degree.
The single invites Coney Island’s finest Torae for a brolic guest appearance, reminding listeners that he will body a good portion of rappers pound for pound. For assurance, visit his recent ‘Entitled’ LP and report back – it’s up there in hip-hop releases this year. The tip of the four minute iceberg is Dj Eclipse lacing the cuts/hook. Does he ever upset? Nah. The four of them on record makes perfect sense. Aside from the artists here, the EP welcomes the likes of Oh No, Ras Kass, Planet Asia and more. It’s a heavy list.
Boston’s Edo. G needs no introduction. However, if you’re young or were never properly introduced, I’d recommend starting at Edo G & the Bulldogs’ Life of a Kid in the Ghetto and their 1993 Roxbury 02119 record for an early brush up. Fast forwarding to the current, Edo. has been busy. Him and Paris’ production duo Street Wyze (Dj Tren & G.G.) released their Afterwords full length last summer – a sure shot that your collection needs if you haven’t. Also a generous amount of invited guest verses, Reks’ “Plane Gang” being the latest that I caught.
The two humbly remain grounded and quite simply just do what they know best. In the eyes of people who matter they’re giants. Shabaam Sahdeeq actually doesn’t stop creating. Aside from rhyming and staying planted in music, it’s no secret that he’s a progressive fine artist. Maybe it is a secret if you didn’t know before reading this. His artwork ranges in subject matter, size and medium. It’s bold. Complementary to his music career, his pieces have landed on display throughout different states as well as continue to sell. I’ve had a good relationship with Shabaam through music for the past few years, but since building on the visual art side of the fence my respect for him has grown ever further. He’s a true polymath, remaining teachable and not limited to one craft. It’s something that is lacking in today’s overall rap scene.
We wanted to have some fun with the feature of the single and include a special conversation with Shabaam, mixing in some talk surrounding the EP and studio artwork. We hope you enjoy! Peace and love.
Always good to catch up with you. So the new single and the announced EP with Edo. G. Tell us how the collaboration came to life and how the layers unfolded. It’s a hell of a surprise that we’re excited for.
I’ve known Edo for a while. We always talked about doing a song together, but Fokis really put it together and made it a reality. I did the first 3 songs and left the open verses and Edo laid verses on those. Then Edo laid verses on the next 3 and I followed his lead. For the one where we go back and forth he laid parts and I filled in the blanks. Then the hooks we did after all the verses were laid.
I don’t know much about producer Fokis other than a single or two. His keys are ridiculous and his drums are thick. How did you and Edo end up deciding on his work to canvas the entire release?
Fokis really put this together. He’s known for working with Sadat X, Skyzoo and Torae, amongst other things – engineering, producing and rapping. We didn’t pick him, he picked us actually and made it come together right before I went to Europe on tour. By the time I came back most of the mixes were done.
Hip-Hop needs a collaboration to this degree right now more than ever – two seasoned emcees who’ve quite honestly seen it all. It’s good to see you two in good spirits, healthy and creating music together.
Indeed. Edo is on Tour now after the project is completed and ready to drop and I was on tour before it was finished and was still in the creative stages . So its safe to say we are all working.
Let’s talk art. You’re a machine. We’re convinced you don’t sleep (laughing). How long have you been creating studio art and how long have you been taking studio art seriously?
I’ve been doing art for a long time – since I was a kid. But I just started taking it serious in last 6 years. It took a while before I started to show people what I had. I decided to really paint when my wife came home with a box of oil paints from her old job a few years ago. I made three paintings and they all sold real quick. Before that it wasn’t necessary canvas – it was just drawing on big poster boards, kids jean jackets or going out trying to get my name up on walls lol. Now I’m really trying to step my game up with the studio art.
You’ve been involved in a generous amount of showcases and public displays as well, which always seem to have good responses.
I’ve had a few art shows. They are all special for me, because it’s a new beginning. Anytime my work is shown it feels great. I’m continuously growing so people can see it and document it.
Do you have any favorite contemporary painters/visual artists?
I like Marthalicia Matarrita out of New York, King Saladeen, yourself (Dread Solo) and street artists like Uncuttart, King Amsterdam and a few others. Kehinde Wiley’s exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum had an impact on me. It made me really want to step my portrait game up and make bigger canvases. Marthalicia is a personal favorite because she manipulates and paints on wood, and mixes humans and animals together. Also a lot of graffiti artists don’t like Banksy but I like his concepts as well.
You create written art with your music and make studio art with your paintings. The two crafts go hand-in-hand and ultimately leave you better off than the one crafted artist. Do you find yourself bouncing back and forth between mediums and drawing inspiration from one that helps the other?
My music studio and art studio are one and the same. So I got four easels going. Protools on the Mac, mic, and monitor speakers. A beat is playing while I’m writing – a full creative space. They definitely inspire each other. I might finish a song and be listening to it loud on the monitors on repeat while I paint. Then when I finish painting I might go back and change something with the vocals and vice versa. I got what I always dreamed of. Even if it’s just a two car garage (laughs). I got my punching bag and weights in there too – spray cans etc. Ideas all over the place. I can open it up and get natural sun light to shine on my canvas as well.
Pick out one of your recent pieces and lets talk about it.
That one is called the Power of Words. If you look closely you will see that every bubble has a word around it. I painted that after watching a battle and thought about how powerful the art of word is and how words effect people everyday.
Art is powerful. The power of words, the power of visual imagery, the power of performance and so forth. With visual art, what do you wish to achieve when it’s all said and done?
I wish to achieve a total synergy of music and visual art. Upon my death I want to leave behind a lot of art and music to go with all of it – capture all of my experiences (joy, pain, happiness) in all of it. Everything might be worth more when I’m dead too (laughs).
Pre-Order Recognize Your Power
If you missed previous announcements surrounding Shabaam Sahdeeq’s forthcoming ‘Timeless: of the Collection’ LP, consider yourself reminded. It’s due out at the top of next year (2017), inviting guests ranging from Masta Ace to Ras Kass and a list of incredible producers. The latest leak “Limitless” alongside Dj Doom will be posted below for you as well, it’s very dope.
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