My first session with Saafir was during the mix for Good Game released in 2006. I was assisting Steve Counter; who I will have to write an entire blog post about, as he is one of my industry mentors.
Up to that point, every story I had heard regarding Saafir, a/ka/ Reggie Gibson, depicted a strong, large street dude, who had a gnarly gift of rhyme and shouldn’t be fucked with. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the lab that morning to witness said “street cat” in the corner of the vocal booth, praying, before vocal takes commenced. This peaked my curiosity and from there I took a special interest in getting to know this complex individual from Oakland, California.
At the time we met, Saafir was very much on his feet and moving freely. Unlike his current circumstances as told by his friend and former bandmate Shock G (Digital Underground) in a recent article. We spent many hours over the course of weeks working diligently on finishing up his album, during which guests for the record would come in and check on progress. Saafir would graciously introduce me to these fine artists, and tell me very entertaining stories of how they met and where they had been since. He would continue into the night with further background information on the scene he came up in and all the characters involved. Very engaging to say the least as these recollections included Xzibit, Tupac Shakur, Mike Marshall, to name a few. Along with behind the scenes tales from his roles in films, such as Menace II Society as Harold Lawson, I was on a hip hop culture insider tour of a lifetime… as Saafir is very animated when he speaks.
Over the course of the next 4 years, Saafir became a regular at my longtime creative space, FM Recorders in Oakland. We worked on songs around the clock for up to a week at a time! During which I had the privilege of learning first hand the nuances of fantastic rhyme delivery, crazy pockets, and tonal inflections that make all the difference. We explored cross genre applications to hip hop and with his voice in lead and local singers supporting hooks, we had a great time. Sad to say the vast majority of our creative efforts have never seen the light of day, due to a myriad of reasons not worth mentioning. We made music for the love of it and half hoped the climate would one day be ripe for release, knowing full well with Saafir’s health in decline and limited resources that was the best we could do.
There is one song in particular I would like to share. As Saafir and I haven’t actually discussed a proper release, I can only provide a stream to it here. Kiss and Tell, was created and loved by Saafir, Aristotle, FM’s longtime engineer and now producer, Walti Ku, and yours truly.
Perhaps one day this, along with other gems in storage, can be made available online for purchase. Inshallah!