Album: Sabacolypse – A Change Gon’ Come
Label: Psycho+Logical Records
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: Matt Barone
Brooklyn’s own Non Phixion has consistently brought raw, uncensored rap to the masses over the years, with members Sabac, Ill Bill, and Goretex only getting better with age. Ill Bill has been the dark and disturbed conveyor of ignored truths while Goretex has remained the aggressive MC charged by battle-ready bars, but Sabac has always exhibited a social awareness and penchant for bringing injustices to light. With 2004 seeing solo projects from all of Non Phixion, the time for each to establish their own individuality is at hand, and with “Sabacolypse – A Change Gon’ Come” dropping this June, Sabac is ready to do just that.
Following Ill Bill’s recently released “What’s Wrong With Bill”, Sabac attempts to match his Non Phixion associate’s scorching LP with one of his own. “Sabacolypse – A Change Gon’ Come” is a completely different experience, though, dropping the nightmarish narratives heard on Ill Bill’s dark opus for hopes of revolution and reform within our society. Socially conscious and fed up with the way things are, Sabac uses his solo debut to spark listeners’ minds and broadcast his own version of CNN, minus Wolf Blitzer and the objectivity. Basically, Sabac intends to bring about change rather than wait for it to come on its own terms.
Sabac wisely allows longtime affiliate Necro to handle all production duties, as Necro’s deeply layered beats consistently remain as serious and urgent as a heart attack. To compliment the humorless subject matter on Sabacalypse, Necro’s skills fit like a glove, never overshadowing Sabac’s words but always strengthening them.
The revolution jumps off to a promising start on ‘Organize’, a somber call-to-arms relaying the need for organization to gradually bring about freedom. ‘Sabacolypse’ brings Charlie Murphy-darkness with dusty piano keys and moody bass for Sabac to spew his beliefs, bringing acts such as Public Enemy and Dead Prez to mind for their similarly themed songs. Sabac shows off his conceptual side on ‘The Scientist’, a hypnotic effort with our host MC playing the role of the creator of AIDS, bragging about how devastating his new disease is and revealing the government’s enthusiastic involvement. ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ further displays Sabac’s mistrust in our government as he offers up several questions and problems that remain wrongfully uncovered.
The passionate and focused lyrics from Sabac are present throughout this release, bringing extra life to Necro’s instrumentals while appealing to even the smallest of attention spans. Sabac’s take on New World Order found in ‘Speak Militant’ is gripping, while his visions of hope and desired prosperity on ‘I Have A Dream’ will uplift and enlighten anyone enduring the harsh realities of our world today.
Sabac invites a few accomplices to support his audio revolution on Sabacalypse. Jedi Mind Tricks front man Vinnie Paz incinerates the frantic backdrop on ‘Urban Gorillas’, while Immortal Technique offers his own brand of political animosity on the bare-bones organ arrangement of ‘Fight Until The End’. ‘Positive & Negative’ finds Necro firing hateful and evil thoughts followed by Sabac’s uplifting rebuttal over a mixture of tight strings and bells. ‘P.O.W.’s’ is a lyrical fury at its finest, as Sabac, Necro, Mr. Hyde, Ill Bill, and Goretex all verbally abuse the simple yet banging piano and percussion combination, showing just how sick this Psycho+Logical Records family truly is.
Sabacalypse is held back many times, however, by an unfortunate lack of proper execution. Tackling political and social issues with the intensity that Sabac does can be risky business, with one’s feet delicately walking the thin line between powerful impact and poor mishandling. ‘Protest Music’ tries to rework Bob Marley’s ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ with negative results, as Sabac’s hook comes off awkwardly and his rapid-fire verses irritate rather than motivate. ‘A Change Gon’ Come’ sports an emotionally charged beat powered by Necro’s lifting of music from Stephen King’s killer-car movie ‘Christine’, but the strong lyrics serviced by both Sabac and Necro have lessened force due to the horribly misplaced R&B chorus. The bouncy and engaging trumpets used on the brief intermission ‘Bac’s Anthem’ are wasted, demanding a full song and teasing the listener with one of the album’s toughest productions.
For using his first solo album as a platform to air out his social grievances rather than establish a larger identity is something Sabac should be commended for, and will undoubtedly gain him high levels of respect and admiration in the underground market. While not a perfect start to the revolution, “Sabacolypse” succeeds in informing misguided minds and sparking thought in those daring enough to enter Sabac’s domain. Chalk up another victory for both Non Phixion and Necro, some of the hardest working and most unfairly slept-on individuals working in the hip-hop scene.