Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
SADAT X | Wild Cowboys
Selected by Jesse Ducker
Sadat X has spent a good chunk of his career defying expectations. As a member of Brand Nubian, the man born Derek Murphy at first ceded the spotlight to Grand Puba, the distinguished hip-hop veteran, even though he more than held his own on the group’s first album, One For All. After Puba left to pursue his own solo career, Sadat was integral to the group’s continued success, remaining with Lord Jamar to craft two more albums. Then in 1996, when he recorded his first solo album, the vaguely Western-themed Wild Cowboys, he released one of the best hip-hop albums of that year.
The Great Dot X has always possessed one of the most unique voices and flows in hip-hop, and he steps things up a notch on Wild Cowboys. It’s an absolute treat to follow his complicated and innovative rhyme structures throughout the album, particularly on songs like the title track, “The Lump Lump,” and “Stages and Lights.” He consistently blesses the beats contributed by a murderer’s row of East Coast producers working in the mid-’90s, including Pete Rock, Buckwild, Diamond D, Da Beatminerz, and others.
While Sadat continued releasing quality music throughout the rest of the ’90s and through the ’00s and the ’10s, he sounds absolutely inspired on Wild Cowboys.