This album was released on February 5th this year. Saga Asad is an artist who I first became familiar with when he was featured on Rinpoche by Iceberg Theory. Aside from that, I haven’t heard any of his material, so I’m going into this kinda blind. However, I’m really looking forward to it because I think the album cover is awesome, and the project is entirely produced by August Fanon, who I’m a big fan of. It’s also just under half an hour, so it shouldn’t be too much of a task to get through if it somehow ends up being trash. I doubt that’ll be the case though. I think I’m gonna really dig it.
There aren’t any tracks that I don’t like on this album, so I’ll write about it in the full order of the track listing. It begins with the title track, New Man. This one is a highlight for me. I love August Fanon’s soulful, melodic production here, and Saga Asad killed it.
Jumpin' off the diving board, it's best you keep your knees tucked
On the road of life there's speed bumps
I came from nothin'; well, not really nothin', but we ain't need much
Ate sugar water and WIC cheese lunch
I feel like fans of Navy Blue will really dig Saga Asad’s work. The beat sounds like something Navy Blue would rap over. Every single line from Saga Asad had me hooked too. There’s really nothing that I don’t like about this song. It’s only a minute and 26 seconds long, so maybe it could’ve been longer, but that’s just an extreme nitpick. He killed this shit.
It's rough & tumble in my region, I'm spittin' facts
I want my pound of flesh, I'm trimmin' fat
Chillin' where the killers and the Magilla gorillas at
I got more heart than a silverback
I love how calm and relaxing this song sounds. It just feels like felicity in the form of music. I love it. The song is dope af to me. The following track, Nivel, is another highlight for me. The beat here sounds more like something MIKE would rhyme over. Saga Asad killed it too.
No nickel & dime
When the plate & nickel doin' the nine
I'm perspiring from conspiring
I'm firing when I'm hiring
In the belly of leviathin
I'm so Trini, I might try a ting
Are you marring what I'm admiring?
This psilocybin is inspiring
Once again, the song is very short since there’s just one quick verse over this fairly straightforward loop. Everything’s just really well done though. I think the verse is awesome. The song is dope as hell to me. Track 3 is another exciting highlight entitled Grey Matter. I love the relatively upbeat production here, and the opening lines from Saga Asad are awesome.
I been good at rapping
Now I'm taxin' anglo-saxons for my words and captions
I love that line so much. He killed his verse. The second verse is performed by an artist named Sidewalk Kal, who I don’t think I’d ever heard of before listening to this album. I really enjoyed his performance though. His voice kinda reminded me of A$ton Matthews. He doesn’t rap like him at all though.
Used to carry my troubles on my person like they luggage
Nowadays it's self mastery, manifestin' what I'm wantin'
His verse was great. Same goes for the final verse from Vic Spencer. By the way, I actually can’t believe I’ve never covered a Vic Spencer project on this blog before. His Psychological Cheat Sheet album is highly recommended though, so check that shit out when you get a chance. Anyway, he killed this shit. However, I do have on gripe with this song. The mixing on the vocals is super rough. Each MC’s voice is buried under the grimy beat, so it’s very difficult to make out a lot of what they’re saying. It’s very clearly an intentional artistic choice, so it’s not like they accidentally fucked the song up. I just would’ve preferred if it was easier to hear them. That’s a personal issue though. I think I have more of an issue with that kinda thing than most underground Hip Hop heads. It is what it is. I still think the song is really dope overall. It’s followed by Fleaz, which is another major highlight for me. The production here feels thicker and heavier than that of the preceding track. It kinda reminds me of Mick Jenkins‘ Spread Love, except less fluffy. Saga Asad’s rhyming feels relatively aggressive here too.
Can tell who fake by the smell of they skin
Tell who great by the state of they kin
Only one chance, I'm all in
All my eyes on ends
I want a house with a Benz
Share the rest of the prof' with my friends
We all products of sin
The hook is pretty simplistic, but I think it works very well. The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion.
Chillin' at the lion's gate
You can't fight fire with fate
Even in dire straits please admire the space
On the road to acquiring taste
Niggas will lie in your face
Turn around and spit in your plate
Part of success is acquiring hate
We all products of the choices we make
Spittin' game without a rebate
Stuck between a hard place and a home
I'm like Sisyphus pushin' a stone
I watch my life move at the speed of my phone
He slaughtered this track. The following song is yet another major highlight entitled Loyalty. Once again, the production here is relatively hard-hitting. It’s not as smooth as the preceding track. It feels much more chaotic. There’s a bit more energy in Saga Asad’s delivery as well. I love the kind of arcane lyricism here.
Beyond my mind's eye, I can see the dark in the sky
Took DMT, stopped puffin' the lye
'Cause I was livin' a lie, that's why I stopped givin' to guys
'Cause the hand you lend get trivialized
I done been vilified for steppin' aside
The lesson is "your best weapon is pride"
Gotta take it in stride
If you wanna succeed or survive
Honestly that's been the key to my drive
He murdered this shit. The hook from A. Billi Free is pretty nice too. The Dragon Ball Z reference in the second verse was fire. Once I got to this track I knew I was really gonna struggle to choose a favorite song from this album. I think this track is dope af. The next one is entitled Rorschach. This one flips the same sample that was used in Like Woah by Logic. It probably goes without saying that I prefer this song, although I do like the Logic track as well. Anyway, the opening verse on this song is boiling hot fiya.
My girl asked me straight up do I really think I changed
I told her, "as much as things change, shit just stay the same"
I'm just tryna stay in my lane
And picked the perfect choices for my future like I read them in the quatrain
As the time tick in the watch frame
Critics try to decipher my lyrics like them shits was in the blockchain
The beat switches up after the hook, and I definitely like the second instrumental more. Not that the first one is bad. I think I was just more enthused by the second one since I wasn’t familiar with the sample. The closing verse is really nice too. Overall, the song is dope as hell. The next song is called Hues, and it’s one of the shortest tracks on the album. I really love how lighthearted the production here sounds. It sounds happy. Saga Asad of course killed the verse too.
Dudes runnin' wild, fear no one
Not Japanese, but they show gun
And let you hold sumn
I told the younger dudes "know sumn"
Go to school and get your educatin'
Learn when niggas frontin'
Niggas bluffin', and it's the same old song
It goes on and on and on and on and on
Again, the song is very short—it’s only about 80 seconds long—but I don’t mind the brevity since what’s here is so good. I love the beat, and Saga Asad’s rapping was top notch. The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by another highlight entitled Legerdemain. The beat kinda sounds more like something that Iceberg Theory would rap over, and the relatively esoteric lyricism from Saga Asad here is amazing.
Not to cause a riff, but I'm an urban myth
This is God's gift, control the block like Detlef Schrempf
On those cold roads I had to break the mold
Gettin' money was the goal, but I can't sell my soul
I love how the percussion comes in after this opening quatrain. The whole verse is fire. Once again, the song is very short; it’s under two minutes. I wouldn’t say it sounds incomplete or anything though. It’s an awesome track. I think it’s dope as hell personally. The following track, TEFNUT., is another highlight for me.
I love the heavenly production here. It sounds like I’m floating on a cloud. I feel like if Blu made an album called Above the Heavens this is what the beats would sound like. Once again, Saga Asad’s lyricism here is phenomenal.
You see me stuck in the matrix
Sometimes the pain, you can't face it
The forms is all shapeless
All the art was basic
The words is all flagrant and tasteless
They accusations baseless
I was stuck in a spaceship
Throwin' signs like a mason
There are zero filler bars in this verse. Every single line is dope. The song is dope as hell. The penultimate track is called Earned, and it’s also fire. This track actually has one of my favorite beats on the album. Pretty much everything I said about Saga Asad’s rapping on the preceding song applies to his verse here. He murdered this joint.
On the road to the riches, don't forget your britches
Food for thought don't require dishes, only distance
And the balance of a gymnast
The spark of an incense
This is one of the longest tracks on the album, but the length doesn’t make it feel like it lasts forever. If anything it just sounds more grandiose than the other tracks. I love it. I even think this track has one of the best hooks on the album. The second verse on this song might be even better than the first one too.
Now it's me at my best The season success Was sewn in the keys in my flesh Never fail when I been put to the test
This is easily one of my favorite songs on the album, which is saying a lot since I’ve referred to pretty much every track as a highlight in this review. I’m guessing Saga Asad is of Trinidadian descent just like me since he references a lot of Trini stuff, including my favorite food of all time…
I'm eating bake & shark
While I play my part
Discuss the state of art
Pulling strings, I could tune a harp
Never miss the mark
Take a shot in the dark
It still would show a spark
They respect it when it's from the heart
I think it’s dope af. The closing track is yet another major highlight for me entitled Keep it real. I absolutely love the beat here. It sounds very happy to me. It sounds like that feeling when you’re moving on from something really painful.
Let's keep it real
You'll probably never get a deal
But that doesn't mean that you lack skill
Let's keep it real
You worshippin' the dollar bill
You gonna get short-changed for your cheap thrills
Let's keep it real
People ain't gon' do what they say they will
If it ain't gon' help them pay they bills
It’s under two minutes, but I think it works really well as an outro. It’s a very pretty song, and I don’t really have any gripes with it. It’s dope af to me.
This album is dope af. I legitimately don’t have any consistent gripes with it at all. I think Saga Asad fits over August Fanon’s production beautifully. This album is exactly what I wanted it to be. I think Saga Asad’s a fantastic lyricist. I feel like fans of the current lofi abstract Hip Hop renaissance will definitely appreciate this album. The selling point for me is definitely the lyricism. Even if the beats were trash I imagine I’d enjoy this album just because the rapping is that good to me. Thankfully August Fanon’s production here is phenomenal. Again, I have nothing negative to say about this record. It’s the best album I’ve heard this year so far. Don’t sleep on it. It’s dope af.
“…he was Sisyphus too, Elegba if you insist, legs thrown akimbo, looking for Detroit, the redman” – Amiri Baraka | https://www.scipress.com/ILSHS.40.22.pdf