Beyond possessing pure talent and technical abilities, any rapper worth his or her weight needs to be hungry. Without hunger, what’s the point in even entering the booth, never mind dreaming up rhymes in one’s head? Shabaam Sahdeeq no doubt recognizes this, otherwise he wouldn’t still be releasing one of his best works to date nearly 20 years after stepping into the game.
The Brooklyn artist’s new EP, Modern Artillery is seven tracks’ worth of straight-up Hip-Hop from a cat who’s perpetually making waves in the underground. That goes for when he was running with Rawkus’ finest, dropping gems as part of Polyrhythm Addicts, and putting out critically acclaimed solo records like last year’s, Keepers of the Lost Art.
On Modern Artillery, Sahdeeq further cements his place in rap’s history with some Boom bap help from the gifted Amsterdam-based beatsmith, Big Ape, and Sweden’s, DJ Devastate. And a large portion of the project was recorded out in Amsterdam while the rapper was touring Europe in 2012, which also inspired the project’s name. “I realized I was using my art as a weapon,” he said. “Peep the hidden message in the title: Modern ART-ill-ery.”
As for which weapon he feels best represents his artistry, Sahdeeq didn’t hesitate: “A .40 cal, no doubt.” Fitting, given that his voice is equally as powerful. Also apt is Big Ape’s response to the same question, as the burgeoning producer compared himself to a machete, cutting and chopping up dusty, $1-bin vinyl for emcees.
He also had some kind words for his rhyming partner: “What differs Shabaam from other emcees is his work ethic, and that he’s constantly pushing himself,” Big Ape said. “Maybe there will be a Navy Seal power nap somewhere in the middle, but then he keeps going and going.”
The EP also boasts the likes of Outerspace, Ruste Juxx, Reef the Lost Cauze, Torae, 8thw1, and the late P.H. Those last three actually show up on the closing track, “Men of Respect,” an ill posse cut that concludes the project with a commemorative feel. Other highlights include “Gladiator School,” and its bully raps from Ruste Juxx and Sahdeeq—sample line: “Talkin’ that tough guy shit?/ I’ll split your fitted”—in addition to “Get It,” an anthem for those doin’ whatever it takes to live.
The release represents a collaboration with Dutch/Swedish label Elite Fleet Records and it’s actually their debut project. Modern Artillery hits digital retailers on Oct. 13 (the pre-order is up on iTunes) and a limited-edition tape version drops Oct. 17 on Cassette Store Day. A vinyl edition is in the works.