Musab has an impressive discography to his name, one that can effectively wash away any doubt there might be for some of the labels that are often associated with his name—such as “legend” or “Twin Cities Pioneer.” These are statuses he has earned during his ever-evolving career as a lyricist, as an artist at heart, and as a hustler by nature.
His years on the mic have shown various sides of Musab, all of which represent a part of him, as he is a not easy to define or categorize. He is well-versed in many subjects and passionate about various forms of expression, both of which are reflected in his musical history. At a glance his albums can seem to be very different, but a closer look reveals they all have grown from the same root, and The Revival EP is effective at bringing the many sides of Sab together.
The project is completely produced by Big Jess of Unknown Prophets fame, and he does a nice job producing a musical foundation that conveys emotion, makes the head nod, and sounds crisp. All of that gives Sab the perfect canvas to display his craftsmanship with wordplay and syllable linkage, as well as to jam-pack the 9-song EP with a plethora of worthy quotes. Observe…
On “Royalty” he rhymes, “I’m on the road again, focus is so intense/I’m about to rewrite history with a broken pen/You know my slogan friends, spread love no matter what/I’m here for good, you’re in and out like a gambler’s luck.”
He gives some advice to the young artists looking for shortcuts to get ahead in the business on “Crucial”: “Base your lifestyle off my catalog/Never got a running start, naw, I had to crawl…”
And it’s difficult not to crack a smile at a few of the over-the-top witty lines on “Thanks For The Love.” It’s in moments like that it’s clearly evident that Musab is purely having fun, while showing how easy it is for him to twist words at will.
“One Two” was the first leak from the EP and the music has a magical sound to it. Sab’s flow is relaxed in delivery, but is nimble in his vocal approach: “Trying to bend the bars on the cages/In and out of bars out in Vegas/Or Elsewhere, Well there…/I did you right, I just want to treat myself fair/You ain’t concerned for my welfare/I could be on skid row or laying up in Bel Air/I wanna pass something to my male heir/And watch sunshine light off Mel’s hair…” On the second verse he teases in his skill for visual pictures while still maintaining the level of wordplay, “Blow purp with Natalie, she like my personality/Trust Fund baby, never worked for a salary/Family holding a grip, Daddy voting for Mitt/Hanging with a hood n****a in a caddy on the strip/No competition like Miami at the Knicks/N****s give a lot of pointers, but their shabby with assist…”
The title track, also the debut music video, follows a similar laid back vibe of “One Two,” but he chooses to get more personal lyrically. “I went to the school of hardknocks on scholarship/Graduated with honors for street politics/Then I started making music/Never really had an influence, I just wanted to do it/Trying to make my luck change/I just wanted some income…f**k fame/Most rappers are not what they claim/But the fans won’t allow us to say we entertain…”
All in all, The Revival combines the meticulous wordplay of Comparison, sprinkles in the grittiness of Respect the Life, and mixes in the flashiness of Slick’s Box, giving a well-rounded view of the man known by several names. Beyond a.k.a Musab a.k.a Sab The Artist—the evolution continues.
Catch Kevin Beacham and Siddiq’s hip-hop show H2 every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. on 89.3 The Current. Their all-Minnesota hip-hop show, H2 Local, airs Tuesdays at noon and Wednesday nights at 11 p.m. on the Local Current stream. You can listen to the Local Current stream at thecurrent.org/local, on HD radio in the Twin Cities at 89.3 HD2, and via the MPR Radio app, which is available for iPhones and Androids.