November 20, 2014

Saafir "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (November, 1994)


"Saafir speaks in a rhythmic, agile baritone. It reminds you of the time he nearly stole an entire album from Casual with a 32-second freestyle. Saafir, the "Saucee Nomad," is a charming rogue, the kind of brother who puts you at ease with his savoir faire while scheming to steal dollars from the woman sitting next to him. "I'ma tell you right now, I'ma take all her money - definitely," he promises with a devious smile. "I had a girl when I was 15, right?" he mumbles between ferocious sandwich bites. "And when I said this little rhyme, she laughed for hella long. She said, 'You need to give up rapping, 'cause it sounds like you un-rapping.' That's why I rhyme, for the mothaf#ckas that doubted." His ex-girlfriend wasn't off the mark. Saafir is quite the un-rapper. Words unravel at the seams when he wields the microphone, and rhymes break off in strange places, dipping and sidestepping - like John Coltrane's "sheets of sound." On Saafir's debut album, Boxcar Sessions, he attacks your ears and then goes for the jugular, the metaphors hitting you from all sides."


"I have to be in control," he says. "I had no control over my childhood. I've been in group homes and jails since I was 12. So to have some kind of control or stability is like heaven to me." After years of blowing up the spot all over the Bay Area, Saafir started hanging with Tupac ("He wanted a boy; I'm a man, so I had to move on") and later rapped with Digital Underground. At one of Tupac's video shoots, he met the Hughes brothers, who eventually cast him in Menace II Society as Caine's cousin who gets murdered in the car. His striking features, gift of gab, and mind-blowing rap prowess helped land him a record deal with Warner Bros. And now he's just "trying to be more innovative than the next muthaf#cka." Saafir's not worried about people understanding his abstract poetics, though. "N!ggas don't like to think," he says plainly. "But my mind won't allow me not to. I have to make sense. Other rappers are so transparent, but I know I'ma reach 500,000 people just like me. Plus, a lot of females will feel me 'cause my emotions are intense. And I'm cute. I'm gonna blow up, man. I refuse not to." - Vibe, November 1994. Click to enlarge below to see the full feature.