Last updated: 04/25/2001 03:17:24 AM
There's a very good reason why Saafir gets major respect from rap and hip-hop fans the world over. The prolific and popular Bay Area artist, who arrived on the scene with the critically acclaimed debut Boxcar Sessions (Qwest) in 1994, is back with his latest strike at the world of rhyme and time, The Hit List. Saafir has proven that he possesses a unique rhyme flow that perfectly bridges both 'rap' and 'hip-hop' styles.
He's confirmed this not only as a solo artist, but as both the leader of Hobo Junction (the Oakland hip hop collective dubbed 'the West Coast Wu Tang' whose members include The WhoRidas) and as an in-demand collaborator (the dozens of artists he's recorded with include 2Pac, Monifah, E40, Digital Underground, Luniz, Ras Kass, Xzibit, Alkaholiks, B-Legit, & Dru Down).
Just one listen to his much anticipated new album, appropriately titled The Hit List, and it's immediately evident that Saafir has created a style that breaks those tired barriers between 'East Coast' and 'West Coast' rap. 'I don't even think in terms of coasts. I just try to make good music,' modestly offered the 27-year-old artist who effortlessly achieves this goal on the new album that boasts such universally appealing, hit-bound tracks as 'Watch How Daddy Ball,' 'Slip Into My Eyes' and 'Crawl Before You Ball.' In fact, the infectious head-bobbing 'Crawl...,'produced by Shock-G of Digital Underground, has been slated as the album's lead single.
The 15 richly diverse tracks on The Hit List run the gamut of flavors ranging from the radio rotation-ready, smooth laidback, funk-fueled grooves of 'Watch How Daddy Ball' (featuring Kam, Stevie J. & Chameleon) to the hardcore 'Masquerade' featuring Jayo Felony.
The pure underground hip-hop lyrical assault of 'Lost In Space' cameos the skills of fellow Hobo Junction emcee Eye Cue. The track opens with the powerfully seductive chant: 'You don't know how to get down. It's time for a brand new king to get crowned ' Saafir reigns supreme on this instant hip hop classic which perfectly displays his unique lyrical style: he spits non-stop ingenious stream of consciousness rhymes in a guttural, stutter-stutter-type rap delivery which is syncopated by his own over-dubbed belch-like 'uhh' vocal inflections.
My style is simple but my concept is hard and deep,' sums up Saafir, adding that, 'I'm a thug but I'm also intelligent. I went to both spans on this album. It's my yin yang,' he laughs.
Perhaps one of the album's best examples of this street, gangsta, mobb type rap merging with the more traditional lyrically-based hip hop flava is '25 To Life' which features Hobo Junction female emcee Mahassan (with Saafir's telling intro: 'Let me explain to you, 25 To Life, it ain't no criminal shit. But then again it is. It's some lyrical shit ') which undoubtedly will be a favorite with fans from The Bronx to Los Angeles.
Also packing universal appeal is the title track, 'The Hit List,' which addresses the conspiracy theory that perhaps the deaths of both Biggie Smalls and Tupac were part of a government assassination plan. 'I think that it's very likely that there was some major political powers at work behind these two murders and as rappers start getting wealthier through extreme mega ballin' and as people start unifying, I believe we could see more of this in the near future,' theorizes Saafir. This position is reinforced in the song's lyrics: 'Since the death of the first two icons I been wonderin ' whose gonna be the next to plummet in the dirt.'
On the track 'Bedroom Bully,' Saafir raps, 'Called N.O. for short, No No for long' making reference to his alias Mr. No No, the name under which he made am underground recording in the time between his two Qwest albums (During this period, the ever prolific emcee also collaborated on several Hobo Junction projects including The WhoRidas, 3rd Rail Vic, and the new Hobo Junction family album, The Bargin Theory.)
Hobo Junction's Big Nous lends a production hand on the ill flowing 'Final Thrill' which he co-produced with Saafir. Meanwhile the unusual song 'Smart Bomb' cleverly utilizes the sound effects of the games 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids' in its unique production. Lyrically this track contains such memorable lines as: 'I'm 007 on the rhyme, I'll take you out. Bring in the news on my paper route, dropping smart bombs.
Rounding out The Hit List are such songs as the dreamy, smoothed out, Shock G produced 'Liquid Ho Magnet,' the game related 'Slip Into My Eyes' and the made-for-trunk, funk-laced 'Graduate.'
Text11 value="'I feel like on this album I've developed in all ways,' offered Saafir. 'I kept it simple in linguistics but with a soulful, calculated flow that's deep in flavor. It's a new formula for '98..'
Listen and decide for yourself !!