Sab is an interesting beast in that he refuses to lie complacently in a predefined genre. He is primarily a soul-flavored hip hop artist, but to simply pigeonhole him as such is to offend the versatility of his musicality. He infuses a pop/rock sensibility akin to Outkast and A Tribe Called Quest, which entices the listener to involuntarily bob his/her head while listening.
Sab can also actually sing when the song calls for it - that means no Auto-Tone for the kids playing the home game. Although Sab the Artist principally consists of a guy, a drum loop, and some samples, Sab is so capable in song construction that you'd almost swear that a full band was involved.
The lead track, "Lookin At Girls" takes the listener right back to the late 1980s / early 1990s when the Fresh Prince and Kid ‘n Play were in their heyday. The song playfully emulates their good-natured rhymes. However, it is not a throwback album. The spirit of the music is rooted in the old school, but the songwriting, execution and lyrical flow are poignantly of this era.
Something should also be said for Sab's aversion to brutal and harsh deliveries, which observably aligns him with Common, Talib Kweli, and Q-Tip. His rap M.O. is clearly witty romantic storytelling that is grounded in reality.
Listening to Sab the Artist is how one might expect Ice Cube to sound after you see one of his family-friendly films. It is very rare in this day and age to come across a rap album that steers clear of swearing and overtly suggestive lyrics.
Take it for what you will, but Sab is one of the very few rap artists that is generally safe for children to listen to. And I don't know if this damages his street credibility, but it does open the genre to a larger generational demographic - and not every kid can be weaned on the Wu-Tang Clan and NWA. Sab the Artist is honestly a breath of fresh air in an unfortunately formulaic environment.
By Mark Morton for Music Emissions
released 22 June 2010
All songs Written and Arranged by Sab
Tracks 1,2, and 5 produced by Ganzobean
Tracks 3,4 and 6 produced by Ink Well
Track 7 produced by Team Shells
Mastered by Tom Baker at Precision Mastering