Song of the day: “One of the hardest”- Saafir

Saafir- One of the hardest

Saafir the Saucee Nomad holds a very special place in hearts of a lot of old rap nerds my age. I first heard him on Casual’s Debut album where he arguably stole the entire show with one verse. Shortly after that, he dropped his debut album “”Boxcar sessions”. Saafir was one of a kind. NO ONE rapped like him. Not even close. On top of that, he was fairly abstract in his beat choices, often straying from the jazzy, melodic tracks his contemporaries would use and going with beats that were straight up grating and aggressive. His first album got him a nice following and some devoted fans but, after that, he never really ascended. He did have a moment when he made a few songs with Ras Kass and Xzibit as a group called “The Golden state warriors” but after years of promising a full length album, it simply never came together.
Now, when I say he never ascended, I mean in popularity. He was still making music. Good music. But while other abstract rappers like Aceyalone or his hiero affiliates were making critically acclaimed albums, he sorta just did his own thing. Choosing a decidedly more west coast and gangster sound that probably scared away a certain backpack wearing portion of his fan base.
Well, it turns out that it was deeper than that. In 1992, he was in a plane crash and hurt his back badly. This snowballed into all sorts of other problems (and , honestly, really poor life choices on his part). You can read all about that here:
I bring all that up to talk a little about the song I posted above. It’s off an EP of the same title that was apparently released in 2005. In this song, Saafir talks about many parts of his early career. One verse talks about his first time coming to NYC and linking up with rappers from this side of the country. In the last verse, he gets into the plane crash that would eventually have him sitting in a wheelchair. Now, obviously, when he made the song, I don’t think he know what his predicament would be but It’s still a really dope retelling of the events. I will say that the recording quality leaves a little to be desired but , if you’re old like me, you grew up listening to dirty 4th generation tapes anyway. This just sounds like my youth to me.

Song of the day 10/19/12

Can U feel Me? By Saafir

When I first heard Saafir, I was listening to Casual’s “Fear itself” album. His one verse song “That’s bullshit” pretty much bodied the entire album (which is saying a lot considering how good that album is). Back then, this is how new artists were often introduced. They’d be given a verse or a short song on another artists album and all their fans would be put on to the next big thing. It happened with Jeru, it happened with Nas, and Saafir was no different.
I can honestly say Saafir is one of those rappers that has never sounded like anyone. Even to this day. I don’t think people even really bit him enough to create a sub genre of Saafir like rappers (like people did with Freestyle Fellowship). He was truly a one of a kind type of rapper.
His debut album “Boxcar Sessions” dropped in 1994 and I think it threw a lot of people off. It was just so out there that I’d guess a lot of people didn’t know what to think. Think of a west coast version of “Tical” but with extremely abstract rapping. Granted, there are also people out there who consider it one of the better albums of that era but I’d say ,more often than not, people were kinda scratching their heads when they initially heard it. Luckily, it was also an album that, when you went back to it a year or two later, it made more sense.
This song, in particular was always a standout track to me. It’s a lot less aggressive than many of the songs on the album. Perhaps that’s why it jumped out to me upon first listen. Whatever the case, check it out and if you’ve never peeped “Boxcar Sessions”, get familiar with it.

Song of the day 9/14/10

One of the hardest By Saafir
For a lot of underground rap dudes my age, Saafir holds a special place. He murdered Casual’s first album than dropped the Beloved “Boxcar sessions” album. Since then, his out put has been erratic in both quality and quantity. Earlier this year, I got my hands on some random EP he did called “One of the hardest”. While it may be a “Pause” worthy title, it was actually surprisingly good. It showcased an older and very muslim Saafir. While the EP has a handful of good songs, the title cut really sticks out to me. Most of all cause it’s saafir telling two very interesting stories. One about his first time ever being in NYC , during the early 90’s. The second being a pretty crazy two verse tale of the time he was in a place crash and survived. I had no idea that had happened but the shit is pretty nuts.
On a side note, I find it kinda funny that this song is all about how he’s one of the hardest but in the final verse, when he explains how the plane made an emergency landing, he was the first on the inflatable raft after snuffing some dude in the face for trying to keep him in his seat. Not that I wouldn’t have done the same thing but that’s hardly the move on “one of the hardest”. More like “one of the most eager to break the fuck out”. but hey, survival mode is a motherfucker.

Before they were stars

Everyone starts somewhere. actors, rappers, dancer, ect…
Here’s a little background on some of your favorite rapper/actor types and their humble beginnings

put ya handz up: the whooliganz
This is what you might call a super group but not cause they were at all super, more so cause both mc’s went on to much greener pastures. Way before white rappers not in 3rd bass were even remotely respected, the whooliganz dropped with soul assassins stamp of approval. not only were they white, but they were also very young. the group consisted of two men (boys, actually) you may know. the first, is producer alchemist. nowadays he’s every thug mc’s favorite white boy on the beats and , without a doubt, one of the more respected producers in the game today. back then he was the curly haired little guy with the piercingly high voice. the other member you may know in a different way. scott caan is an actor best known for his parts in the “oceans 11” trilogy or as the wild guy in “varsity blues”. rapping under the name “mad skillz” (yes, with a “z”), caan kicked that hardcore shit about snowboarding and being james caans son. just kidding but he did rap and that’s funny enough in itself. on, by the way, the alchemists mc name was “mudfoot”. yeah…pretty awesome.

grassroots LP:the atban klan
way before they were making the worst music on the planet, the group now known at the black eyed peas was on some other shit. back in the mid 90’s, they were known as The Atban Klan. this was pre-fergie (your girl fergie was in failed pop group “Wild orchid” at the time). the group consisted of the three black eyed peas rappers (, and taboo). all things considered they were pretty much a souls of mischief rip off. the one thing they did have on their side was dope beats. highly under rated producers Epic and wolfe produced the whole “Grassroots” album. from beginning to end, the beats on this album are amazing. unfortunately, the rapping is pretty mediocre. anyway, this was supposed to drop on ruthless records, but due to the untimely death of Eazy-e, the album never came out. peep it.

grassroots Lp :the Atban klan

(couldn’t find a youtube clip of this song so i give you this other one instead)
hardcore nights: UTD
Mos def got his start with the group UTD (urban thermo dynamics). the group consisted of mos, his brother DCQ and his sister cee. the group was signed to payday records and released a few 12” records but the full album never dropped (until it’s eventual “re-release” in 2004). this song in particular has always been a favorite of mine. partially cause i like the beat but more so cause mos def raps like akinyele on it. it’s just funny. “stay alert out here before your caps get peeled” is delivered with such growling intensity, it’s hard to imagine that it’s same dude who lit up college dorm rooms everywhere 5 years later with songs about his umi.

Fo sho: the odd squad
good news! devin the dude was always good. unlike alot of the artists i’m covering, devin has nothing to be ashamed about. prior to his solo career, devin was part of “the odd squad”. a three man group that rap-a-lot records put out in 1994. a departure from their label mates , the Odd squad was on some more laid back, fun shit. it’s no surprise considering Devin’s steeze. also notable is that one of the odd squad’s mc’s , rob quest, was blind. i dunno what it was with rap-a-lot but they loved them some challenged people rapping. bushwick bill, rob quest, too much trouble and even too-low (he was a kid but kid rappers are basically retarded anyway). whatever the case, good for them.

that bullshit: casual (but really it was saafir)
when casual dropped his debut album”fear itself”, he was kind enough to give his homeboy saafir a mini song of his own. now, i may be alone in this but i think saafir pretty much bodied the whole album with his one verse. saafir went on to release the slept on album “boxcar sessions” , as well as get his act on in “menace to society” and some r&b videos. unfortunately, the love did not last between casual and saafir , as they had a falling out rumored to be over a girl they both fucked. hey, shit happens. anyway, saafir recorded “pull ya card” as his diss to casual so i threw that in as a bonus.

the rest of the songs:

hardcore nights: UTD
fo sho: The odd squad
put your handz up: the Whooliganz
that bullshit: casual (really saafir)
pull ya card: saafir

Side note:
this blog was originally written for the TROY Blog a while ago. if you like rare and great hip hop, i cannot think of a better place to check out: