The Creative Chemistry of Shabaam Sahdeeq and Nick Wiz

A look back at some of the duo's collaborative highlights from the past quarter century.

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This past Saturday I wrote a piece about YouTube music archivist OGDonNinja and his extensive archive of audio goodies. One of the songs I highlighted was Shabaam Sahdeeq’s incredible Nick Wiz-produced demo cut “Do or Die.” The remarkable narrative about a toll both heist and gorgeous Catalyst flip combine perfectly for three minutes of pure magic.

“Do or Die” is far from the only time Shabaam Sahdeeq and Nick Wiz joined forces with a memorable outcome. Nick also provided some sample flipping mastery for the 1997 b-side “Arabian Nights.” There are so many different elements that make this beat sing: hard-hitting drums, the thoughtful use of filters, and a subtle but key vocal snippet that adds an important bit of texture to the track. As always, Sahdeeq sounds right at home on the beat.

Some of the recordings these two frequent collaborators laid down sat in the archives until many years after they first came together. Nick Wiz thankfully unearthed some of their studio gold for his recent Cellar Selections and Cellar Sounds releases, which highlight unreleased songs and instrumentals recorded between 1992 and 1998.

Nick Wiz Presents: Cellar Sounds, Vol. 5: 1992-1998 features verses from DMX, D.V. Alias Khrist, Chubb Rock, Chino XL, and many others. It also includes three collaborative tracks with Shabaam Sahdeeq including “Great Paper Chase,” which further highlights the duo’s creative chemistry.

Heavy bass, crisp drums, and slightly dissonant sample hits make for a killer instrumental. Just like “Do or Die” and “Arabian Nights,” Sahdeeq once again shows his gift for memorable hooks, telling the listener, “Time and space, percussion and bass/This whole world moving at a blinding pace/Life’s a card game, trying to hold a ace/See you might get erased in this great paper chase.”

Both artist’s careers have continued to evolve in the often turbulent music industry. Nick transitioned into film and TV work in more recent years, including compositions for A Haunted House (2013) and A Haunted House 2 (2014), Turbo Snail (2013), and Thunderstruck (2012). He also continues to produce music for various MCs.

Shabaam Sahdeeq has released a steady stream of projects on his Bandcamp page over the past four years, including Timeless: of the Collection, which features some Nick Wiz production.

Though they’ve never done an entire project together—something that seems long overdue—their July 2020 single “Thunderin’” indicates that an EP titled Cabin Fever is in the works. If their previous work together is any indication, this is a release to look out for.

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