Tommy Boy
Tommy Boy

It's been 20 years since Sadat X dropped his debut album, Wild Cowboys. The proper way to celebrate the classic material on that record is to showcase the growth he's experienced during his time in the game, which he does so solidly on his latest album, Agua, a culmination of a fruitful career and reflection of how far he's come.

Agua, his 11th solo album, is another lifetime from the young, wild Dotty X who "had to do it because he asked for it." This is an older, wiser, introspective Sadat X, still doing what he loves in his 40s, and dealing with the realization that his daughter is headed to college. This is a Sadat X whose heart breaks watching a young woman crying on the iron horse on his way back to Brooklyn. This is a humble MC, who notes the immeasurable joy he gets teaching hip-hop history to grade school children. As much as things have evolved, though, Agua feels familiar and comfortable. It's a one-year labor of love that sums up where he's been and where he's at -- "just actual facts" according to the rapper -- over a hotbed of fresh, New York-inspired boom-bap, cooked just the way older heads like it.

As he described in a recent interview with XXL, this album is really for his core fans. "It’s for my demographic, but if I do get some of the younger fans, I’d love that." The Bronx native crafted Aqua with a heavy dose relatable bars, "This is for people young and old that take appreciation in a hard day’s work; that can come home, drink a beer and feel good about themselves." It's a project for the every man or woman who -- like Sadat himself -- doesn't have a million dollars in the bank, or a luxury car in the driveway.

The production that spans the 18-song project is stellar. Sadat doesn't take many chances, but rather, sticks with familiar faces, such as Pete Rock on the previously released single "Freeze." Here, Sadat asserts his status in the game, and puts MCs who can't back up their lyrics with facts on blast. "There're too many MCs/I'ma call Lil' Cease/he gon tell B.I.G. commandment/It's not where your man's went/I'm talking about you/I'ma ask them niggas about the shit you do," he raps. He also once again makes the parallel between the old, wilding out Dotty X and the grown, cooled out Sadat.

Another notable moment on Agua is when Dot metaphorically passes the torch to buzzworthy rapper A-F-R-O, who is not only the youngest artist to appear on the project, but the sole representative of the next generation. That's one hell of a cosign. Their collaboration on "Murder Soundtrack," produced by his right-hand Will Tell, also features the legendary beatbox icon, Rahzel, on the chorus.

There is a varied cast of featured artists who Sadat has come to form friendships with over the years, from his Brand Nubian brethren Lord Jamar; D.V. Alias Khrist, who appeared on his debut Wild Cowboys, to artists like Rhymefest; R.A. the Rugged Man; Dres, from Evitan and Blacksheep fame; and Shabaam Sahdeeq, a fellow devout Lo-head.

This album was carefully crafted by a hip-hop head for a hip-hop head. Not many artists can claim the street-level, regional and international love or the longevity Sadat X can in the game. He's experienced highs and lows throughout the last two decades, but has never failed to deliver what his audiences have expected from him. Agua is no different; no filler, no fluff, all facts.

50 Fire Hip-Hop Albums You Need to Listen to This Summer

More From XXL