Sada Baby's character has solidified him as a vibrant player in a competitive game.
By the time Sada Baby unleashed his "Bad Santa" opus titled Bartier Bounty, the keener, funnier side of his disposition was well on its way to melding into stone. BB is composed of material recorded in 2018 before the 26-year-old baller turned rapper had become the exception to a clearly-stated rule. Just ask LeBron or 2 Chainz, they would never entertain the notion of rapping AND "going to the league" simultaneously. Sada Baby could give a flying you know what about a token gesture, and that's why I find his personage so endearing.
Sada Baby embodies none of the tendencies you would associate with a mal-vivant. He does, however, play this game of deception where he hides the burden of proof in a series of fuddy-duddy riddles - an approach that is altogether new within the milieu of street-focused rap. So, instead of zeroing in on reality, Sada takes his unbound images to the very opposite end of the spectrum- all without losing sight of what and where he comes from: a bustling Detroit in the midst of a DIY purge.
The unorthodox rhythm he displayed as a basketball prospect is what carried over in his crossover to rap. Sada was able to remodel himself this way by making a “transferable skill” of the flavored manifestations of his personality. The Detroit up and comer is evidence that charm and a competitive nature exists outside the myopic understanding of sociopathy (see 21 Savage). This chapter in Sada Baby's life is an image of reflective practice. I hope you enjoy the following conversation as much as I did.
Photo via Aaron Dee
HNHH: Let me start things off by warning you, all the topics I've selected are pretty disjointed, so bear with me. If that’s okay with you?
Sada Baby: It's all good!
Let's talk about your hometown of Detroit to kick things off. Help me break down some of the popular misconceptions plaguing Detroit, or the Eastside, where you're from.
In my younger years, Detroit was pretty underdeveloped. But now, Detroit’s got a lot going on. It’s actually easier to thrive here because of the jobs that came up in the plants, and the Quicken Loans Arena. They're about to build two more plants now, you feel me? Whether it's on the Eastside or the Westside of Detroit, people are putting their plans together, as rappers, or on a culinary level. The Cannabis industry is thriving too because Michigan’s got legal weed now. Everything that's going on around here is so productive.
What are some of the terms you and your inner circle throw around that are specific to Detroit? I ask you this because your wordplay is completely bonkers, but in a good way.
Just a bunch of different sh*t you feel me? We say whoop to everything because it doesn't actually mean anything specific. Me and my homeboys say whoop to anything positive, or negative, like a violent situation. When something good on TV, or a n---a got a fine b-tch you say whoop! We say, we're "pressing n----s," when we ain't giving nobody no breathing room.
For example, we "pressing" when we on y’all ass and y’all can’t do nothing. "Pressing" could mean "don’t look the wrong way," or "don’t get on our wrong side." Everything else, n----s just be winging it. "Pressing" and "Whoop" that's me and my homeboys only.
Let's dig into your "Scuba Steve" persona. We all know the character is derived from Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy but what's your inspiration behind its usage?
Yeah, I used to do a lot of molly. When I take molly I turn into "Scuba Steve."
That makes sense now that I trace it back to your song "Skuba Says." Too much sense. I recall you spitting something a little unorthodox on that song, something along the lines of "Perkys in her booty crack, never in no man-purse."
Let's go down that road then. What else do you consider a no-no? What else can we infer by you cursing the messenger bag?
I'm serious as hell, I don’t do the purse thing.
Due to fashion?
It's just plain weird. If I was to ever wear a fanny pack, I'd have on a windbreaker jogging suit to match. That's how it’s supposed to be worn, with change up in it. I'm not into wearing no satchel, not over the shoulder or nothing. In fact, I bought one just the other day, and the clerk was like, 'you ain't going to wear that on your chest?' I done seen n----s walk around with a full two-handle "lil bag." You've got to walk past the bookbags to get to the purses, you know what I'm saying?
How can you miss 'em, right?
You feel me.
I do, I do. However, I'm not taking everything you rap about at face value. But with respect to the social codes you're touching on, I know with certainty that a lot of folks feel the same way. But I'm not here to ruffle any feathers. And yet, I need to ask you about Childish Gambino. There’s a growing belief he "borrowed" certain elements from your shimmy dance in the "Bloxk Party" video to create his signature moves in "This is America." Let me put this delicately: do you think his dance is modeled after yours?
You know what I’m talking about right?
That was funny as hell, even to this day. Bow Wow was listening to "Bloxk Party" in a room full of b*tches, and everybody tagged me to the post. So, I threw up a post of my own telling people to stop the tagging. I was thinking, 'Bow Wow doesn’t know the song, it's these girls who were listening to the song!' Then all of a sudden, Bow Wow drops in and comments something along the lines of ''I do know the song." At this point I'm not even thinking how big a deal it was. I was just surprised these types of people knew about the song, to be honest with you. See what I'm saying?
I never once thought Childish Gambino knew what the f--k was going on with my song. At some point, the chefs who were catering Bow Wow's event actually DM'd me, sometime after the fact. They cleared it up by saying, 'he doesn’t know your song! It was US playing your music.’
Ah, I see.
I really be thinking nobody knows what the f--k going on unless they said it outright. I really think Childish Gambino was just going with his flow.
He probably was. I just find it hilarious it got to that point. I guess there’s a distinction to be made between stealing something deliberately and getting hit with subconscious influences. Let’s talk about the way the different ways with which you express yourself.
On"Bloxk Party" you create the lasting image of a giant brick of white that looks like Brock Lesnar. The image really resonates with me, because, well... he's super pale and basically and he doesn't have a neck. I'm almost certain that's exactly how you conceived it yourself. Tell me, what inspires this madness? Are you simply a sponge for all things pop culture?
I just remember absolutely everything! I'm always trying to come up with references no one’s ever heard. When people name drop basketball players, a small number of players get brought up: LeBron, Steph, Kobe, or some shit... We know there's at least another 5 million n----s that hoop, right?
Yeah, including me, you feel me? The same thing goes for wrestling. I know there’s a thousand motherfuckers that got in that ring, actors too. Movies, colors, food, even fake karate n----s like Frank Dux get thrown around. I wouldn't personally give a f-ck if y'all don’t understand my references. I just want mine to be a little different.
I guess these references lose their "new car smell" after a couple of tries.
To be quite honest with you, I haven’t seen or heard of too many reference-worthy wrestlers in some time.
That's true! But I did name drop Roman Reigns not too long ago.
That's different, Reigns is basically the lifelike version of the Prince of Persia.
Some sh-t like that fasho.
To your point, ballers aren't going out of style anytime soon. I've seen your "euro-step" in action. Your basketball skills are well documented throughout social media. I’ve even heard touch on your love for the sport in previous interviews. Tell me, how serious was your basketball come-up before switching over to rap?
Real serious. I was Top 50 in the State of Michigan at one point.
Damn, like AAU level ball?
Yeah, the thing is. I went to jail my senior year of high school and gave up on hoopin'. I was taking it seriously up until my early 20s or something like that.
I could tell you had game but..
Nah, I used to really do that sh-t yo. I was signed up for the Willie Green basketball camps, the Derrick Coleman camps too. All of it.
Derrick Coleman! I haven’t heard about DC in a minute. Did he grow up in Detroit?
Yeah. I used to kick it around where his Mom stayed at y'know?
He had a reputation for being a tough guy, didn't he? Not a "bad guy" per se, but the kind of no bullsh*t personality you go to battle with.
Oh, he's tough for real though! Big DC!
Anyone that goes toe-to-toe with Charles Oakley better come prepared.
Oh for sure, 'cause Charles Oakley was tough the real way. During his first couple years in the NBA DC was ridiculous, even during his college days at Syracuse.
Who are you gunning for in the NCAA Tournament?
I'm rocking with State. Michigan State & Michigan in the Semis because they're in different conferences. If neither one of them make it, I'm just in it to see some good basketball.
In my bracket, I picked a Wolverines - North Carolina final, ending in a UNC championship. You probably don’t like my pick but whatever!
If it's anything like the first time we (Michigan State) played 'em, we gon’ smoke UNC if it comes to that.
I'm not mad at that. Let's get back to your music though. I noticed there was an XXL Freshman campaign made out in your honor. How special would it be, to get the nod?
That sh*t would mean the world to me right now! It would be my biggest accomplishment thus far. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Freshman class for real, for real!
My next question could very well validate your claims towards a spot on the Freshman list. Is Bartier Bounty the best album/mixtape of 2019, let’s be real?
I feel like it's the best mixtape. If I had a bigger following, I’m sure things would be wildly different, but I just know what I’ve got under wraps: over 200 songs on ice.
Probably more than that. All quality songs too! At least 50 of 'em are better than anything I've ever put out. By the time we dropped Bartier Bounty, I had another 18 songs ready to go.
Obviously, Bartier is a January release, so it's not like you completed the itinerary in less than a month's time.
"Bonnie & Blyde" was actually recorded in 2017.
"Bonnie & Blyde" was recorded with a family member, wasn't it?
Yeah, that's my cousin Ashley. She’s signed under me. I've also got two other artists signed from Detroit, one from San Francisco, and another from Colorado Springs.
Word, I know you and FMB DZ got a good thing going too.
Yeah, that's my brother. Everything we do for the rest of our lives, me and him we'll always be gelling. Whatever he's got going in the future, I’ll never be too far behind.
In your estimation, what's the real difference between a mixtape and an album?
It’s all how the artist wants to label the project or the type of songs that go on there. If Bartier Bounty would have been an album, y’all would have seen different songs on there, you feel me? Since it’s a mixtape, I put the songs I felt needed to be on there. Once I get a sense of what y’all like from me, it’s a go! I know what I’ve got under wraps, I just need to find the right way to present it.
So you’re saying, you've got an explorable musical range that your fans haven't yet seen?
Do you know Kenny Beats personally?
Yeah, that’s my n---a!
He shouted you on Twitter the other day, right? He understands the wide-ranging vocabulary of rap. It allows him to work with whomever, in whatever home state. Help me fill in the blanks here.
That's my guy, we've done a few songs.
Within the same batch?
Two of the three songs are colossal. Whenever ScHoolboy Q hits the studio with him, he usually requests that Kenny play my songs. ScHoolboy is a real big fan of mine, and the feeling is vice versa. Q gave me a warning a few months ago that he'd be dropping the new singles, but I haven't them yet. The last thing I heard from him was on the Wakanda CD, but I’m definitely going to listen to his new stuff ASAP.
Three years is a helluva loop, especially when you consider the demand for his music. What's stopping you from doing a joint LP with Kenny Beats? Something like FM! or his tape with ALLBLACK. Have you heard it?
Not yet, but I'm a fan of ALLBLACK, I f-ck with him.
You've been described to me as one of the better live acts in all of hip-hop. Why should I go to one of your shows? Sell me on the idea.
'Cause my shows are better than Chris Brown's. He's got backup dancers, pyrotechnics, and all that but... I love Chris Brown, we have music together. He's one of the first big n----s who reached out to me when they passed through Detroit.
All that extra sh-t you get at a Chris Brown, Usher, or Future show... I don’t do any of that sh-t, but I still keep you up out of your seat the whole way through. Ain’t no sitting down at one of my shows. Whether there are 10 or 10 thousand people in the crowd, it doesn't make a difference to me.
I'm sold. Thanks for the conversation, I really enjoyed speaking with you.
I appreciate it. It's all good. Whenever, whenever.