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Musab (Beyond)
Rebirth of Slick
The pimp game is often glamorized by Hip Hop music as a plush lifestyle, but Musab will be the first to say that's a big misconception. ''On the other side of the flash and front, it's a very dirty game and str..
Musab: Rebirth of Slick         by Bob Signorelli
Pimp Game 101: Work Smarter, Not Harder...

The pimp game is often glamorized in pop culture and rap music videos as a plush lifestyle, but Musab will be the first to say that's a big misconception. "On the other side of the flash and front, it's a very dirty game and strenuous lifestyle that one must have grit and stomach to endure," he says. Born to a fifteen-year-old mother during the 70's "Superfly Era," in Minneapolis, MN, fatherless and raised alone by a teen mother, he saw and experienced many things most children don't, and was introduced to "the oldest profession" by family and friends living the lifestyle.

After losing his cousin to murder, 'Sab realized he was too deep in the street game and had to rearrange his life before it was too late. In turn, he began taking his rap career seriously. In 1993, he was asked to become a member of local rap collective The Headshots. In 1996, 'Sab recorded his debut solo album titled Comparison under the name Beyond. This was the first release on the indie hip-hop label giant, Rhymesayers Entertainment.

Fast forward to the early 00's, the partnership between 'Sab and Rhymesayers began to crumble and he soon was forced to leave the label and movement he helped create. Recently 'Sab signed with indie Hip Hop mainstay Hiero Imperium for his latest release The Slick's Box.

GLmag had the opportunity to speak with Musab as he prepped for his upcoming tour. Read about his take on the pimp game, how all Hip Hop artists are hookers, and the real deal behind his split with Rhymesayers…

How did coming up in a home with a single mother shape you as a man, and did this play a role in you embracing the hustler lifestyle?

As a child, growing up with my mother and no father was difficult for me. It wasn't just because my parents were separated but more because I've never met my biological father. Me and my 2nd sister are only 19 months apart and she knows her father, we were told we had the same dad our whole lives up until I was like 11 years old. I asked my mom one day while she was making dinner how come me and my sister look so different, she looks like her dad and I don't, so I addressed it and that's when she sat us down and revealed we had different dads, that was hard for me then.

I wouldn't say that had as much to do with me taking to the streets as other situations did, for example, my mother got pregnant with me at the age of 14 and gave birth to me at 15, by the time she turned 17 my 2nd sister was born, so you see my mom was a child with two children, she was not ready to be a (single) parent obviously. So hence, I seen a lot of things as a child that I'm not comfortable revealing to anybody but a true friend of mine, but take my word for it, most kids don't know what I knew at my age. Its not my mom's fault, she was a child as well with no proper upbringing of her own, but that was my fate. My mom now owns her own health care business taking care of elderly and sick people, she's done good for herself, I'm proud of her, she is one of the strongest and enduring humans I've ever known, I love her.

Still, you can only be what you are naturally, so since my birth I've been exposed to hustling, so naturally that's what I shall do. As far as the man it's made me, I'm responsible for the maturity of the man before you, I had no male role models to guide me so therefore I guided myself with God being in control of the vehicle, I am truly self made.

What kind of music was being played in you're your home growing up, and what, if any, influence did it have on the music you have chosen to make on your own?

The music I heard in my home growing up was Soul, R&B, Funk, Rock, Rap and a lot of Oldies, my mom was really into 60's music. Growing up with this music is what gave me my swagger, I'm a very smooth individual, I like to dress proper, I like to charm the ladies, I love to dance and move to music, I like martinis, I don't drink beer. As I got older I started experimenting with listening to other forms of music that fit my swag, like the Rat Pack, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, KISS, I'm a big Gene Simmons fan, he's a genius. Hip Hop is my era though, I'm proud to have witnessed the birth of it as a culture and see it grow into what it has become today. Listening to many forms of music has definitely contributed to my range. Most people don't know how much music I have actually recorded over the last ten years, I really love it.

My main mission now is to get my music to the people, I just wanna be heard ya know? For all that I have accomplished and all the rappers who are well known that I have influenced I'm grateful, but now I'm really trying to be heard. If I have a thousand songs recorded, my fans have only heard about 50.

What originally got you interested in Hip Hop and when did you decide that you wanted to start rhyming?

Like I said, I've been a fan of rap since its beginning and Hip Hop is my generation. There has never been any competition as to what I would be a part of as a young black American male. As far as being an MC, it came natural; I just always knew how to rap. My concern has always been about my contribution, once I feel like I can no longer creatively contribute in a good way to the art, I will turn in my hat and put my energy into letting other talents be heard.

How hard is it to strike a balance and prioritize your time between the streets and the studio?

I wanna make something clear here in retort to this question, I'M NOT ON THE STREETS. I'm a business man, an executive. I'm a member of the adult entertainment industry, we profit more money than the NFL a year, I started on the streets and got my game from the streets, but I entered the business to get off the streets and that's what I've done, I'm successful at this mack thing, if your still on the streets, then your not successful yet. As far as the biz interfering with my music, it doesn't. I learned how to bridge the two, hence I give you "Mack Music" and much more to come. If it wasn't for my mackin' there would be no rappin' at this point, no one is helping me with shit, the game keeps my boat afloat, and my boat floats on money not water, ya dig?

So what similarities exist between the pimp game and the rap game?

Record labels ARE pimps. Everyone that decides to make music should understand this, you are a hooker. You are selling yourself and your art, right? And you don't have any control over how it's done, right? You want a label to invest in you to polish you up and sell you, right? And most important, the label is going to make a lot more money off of you than you will make off yourself, damn! That's pimpin.

Why did you part ways with Rhymesayers, especially when you played such an integral role in building their credibility as a label?

I decided to part ways with RSE because I felt I was no longer getting the support that was needed for my music to become as successful as it should be. There were a lot of bad decisions made concerning my music career that no one wanted to take responsibility for, I'm not only blaming RSE, I myself took some part in this but I'm willing to admit that I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know how to deliver my project to the people back then, how to package it and make them see my vision, so I put my trust in RSE to help me with that and they did not deliver for me. And I don't feel like that's asking for a favor, if you're a record label then that's your job.

Remember I said no one has really ever heard my music? Well that's not my fault. Me and Ant have made a lot of real dope music together and it hasn't been heard. Makes no sense, huh? Like you asked, how did someone with such an integral role in building the label's credibility end up getting thrown off the bus? Because in reality they were done with me long before my move to Hiero and all this became public. They just didn't sit me down and discuss it with me. There was a lot of passive aggressiveness going on over there and I can't operate like that. My last album Respect The Life dropped in 2002, all I can say is it doesn't take me over five years to make an album.

Given my position on the label there should have been no ifs, ands, or buts, it should have been Sab is getting released no matter what. Fuck how many records he can sell to Atmosphere fans, he's a part of us, we want him to be heard. Unfortunately it wasn't like that. And if I'm wrong they have my number and a voice to tell me and the people different.

How did you hook up with Hiero Imperium for this album?

I met the homies here at Hiero about ten years ago on the road. Me and A-Plus really hit it off and would hang out whenever we saw each other. I recorded my album and got it mixed and everything. All that needed to be done was the art and mastering, I dropped the album off at the RSE office, they didn't even know I had recorded it. To make a long story short I didn't get a response after like two months on the desk. That was the last straw for me.

I knew I wanted to bring the album over to Hiero because I always admired the brotherhood I saw over here, they haven't released an album off the label for awhile so I figured my album would be a great re-energizer for a legendary name in Hip Hop. I'm excited about this, and it feels good to be supported.

What does the title of this album, "The Slick's Box," represent?

Slick's Box represents everything that encompasses Musab/Minnesota Slicks, the Man, the Father, the Muslim, the Mack, the Rapper, the Insane Genius, the Bastard Child, the CEO, the Fashion Expert, the Revolutionary. I figure all I gotta do is stay within my box and I will have enough material to entertain the people for a very long time, I'm just getting started.

What track on this album makes you the most proud, especially when listening to the finished product?

I'm very proud of every song on this Album, to me this album symbolizes a very strong person that you can not hold down, many obstacles were thrown in my path, both business and personal, that could have hindered it's creation, but I did it. So I hope the people enjoy it, if this one doesn't capture you then my next one will…

What else do you want our readers to know about Musab?

I listen to a lot of Billy Joel, I'm bilingual (East African language, Tigrina), I shave my armpits and pubic hair, I don't drink beer, I've spoken personally to Muhammad Ali, My grandfather was a Freemason, and I know my mother's family tree extending back to the plantation owner's family...

 

Musab's latest release, The Slick's Box, is available now through Heiro Imperium Records

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