Sada Baby doesn’t regularly bowl, but tonight is a special occasion. Skuba Sada 2, his second project release since the beginning of 2020, is roughly one month from releasing and, to celebrate, his label, Asylum Records, is treating him to a night out at Bowlmor Lanes in New York. All night long, drinks and mozzarella sticks flow freely between guests. Sada, born Casada Aaron Sorrell in Detroit, Michigan, and his crew are lively—more lively than the cheesy animations playing on each lane’s overhead screen. They dance every time they roll a strike and yelp every time they don’t; there is a lot of yelping.
Sada, 27, moves in real life the same way he does in his many music videos. His persona traffics in a forward momentum typical of a rapper vying for attention in the streaming age. “I always felt like that’s what you were supposed to do,” he says by phone following our bowling outing. “It was days where I would go to the studio with two or three outfits just in case I made two or three songs I knew I was gonna wanna shoot videos for, and I’d shoot all the videos in that one day.”
Even by modern streaming era standards, Sada’s prolific output is overwhelming. A new video seemingly hits YouTube weekly, providing fans another chance to see him shimmy, shake, and rap his way through the clutter of the industry. “My way for letting my fans see me is through my music videos,” he says. “I watch motherfuckers get bored with people all the time in this day and age.”
Sada’s bars, chock full of left-field references and propelled by his funhouse take on the pounding gloom of Detroit street rap, are just as colorful as his visuals. Can you name another rapper comparing themselves to the holiday monster Krampus (“Kut & Kordial”) before referencing basketball players who retired decades ago? I can’t.
Sada Baby isn’t afraid to keep his fans on their toes, either; most of his projects—like the Brolik mixtape released this past January—aren’t available on most DSPs, instead, finding homes on sites like Audiomack, DatPiff, and YouTube. Sada sees Skuba Sada 2 as a brief course correction. He wants to deliver several loosies before he begins the rollout of his proper debut album. “If I don’t do it now, we’d never do it,” he admits. “Whatever I wanna upload or get out the way has to get out the way. The next quarter is only for my album.”
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: When did you first fall in love with music?
Sada Baby: I didn’t grow up wanting to do music. I didn’t start rapping until five years ago. The first song I liked and understood was Shawty Lo’s “I’m The Man” remix with Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. I don’t know if I felt anything when I first heard the song, but I began to understand and appreciate it more as I grew older. When I started doing music for real, I wanted to make a song that would make somebody feel how I felt when I heard that song. I feel like I’ve made that song 20 times at this point in my career.
Your career had a rocky start. Before you entered the Imported From The D showcase, I read you were about ready to give up on rap. What inspired you to give rap one more try?
I just figured it was time to give it one more try or I’d go do something else. I didn’t feel like I wasn’t good enough at rapping; I just hadn’t made the kind of money I’d wanted to make from rapping yet. At the time, I would’ve been 30 in five or six years, and not everybody gonna have the 2 Chainz story of getting their big break when they turn 40. [Imported From The D] was the last straw; if I didn’t win the competition, I was gonna go to school, be a chef, and play some basketball for a minute. But I won the competition, and I got booked to open for Curren$y the next day, and I kept fuckin’ with it.
I love all of the obscure references in your lyrics. On Brolik, you actually compared yourself to Krampus on “Kut n Kordial.”
It’s a goal [of mine] to say shit that people could use but haven’t thought to yet. Not to the extent of NoCap and Rylo Rodriguez, who lean more toward the Lil Wayne metaphors of rhyming shit, that shouldn’t be possible. I lean more toward the kind of reference where I’ll say, “I shoot that bitch like Avery Bradley” or Dwight Smith or Derrick Jones Jr. or Jimmer Fredette. It’s a bunch of motherfuckers playing basketball that people could use that people don’t use. It might take only half-a-second to think of someone like LeBron James or Stephen Curry, but it only takes an extra second to think of names like Larry Hughes or Jalen Rose. It just proves to me people are lazy; it’s right there for you.
It’s so much shit out here that people choose to overlook and not fuck with, from sports to cartoon characters. I said so many things on the “WWF” song from Brolik that my kid fans in middle school and high school or even my super hood fans in rural areas can’t relate to like that. I know that, to a certain extent, my bars are only noticed by the keen ear, the ear trained to hear that type of shit. That’s why my energy and my dancing stands out so much to people to this day, to where they can just pay attention to that.
You mentioned the deeper meaning of “Aktivated” in your recent episode of Genius’ Verified. Does it bother you when fans gloss over the deeper or more traumatic aspects of your songs?
Not for real because it’s not for [fans]. When you hear an artist put shit like that in their music, it’s a way for them to cope. I’m not gon’ talk to nobody about it for real, so I let it out [in my music] instead of letting it be on my mind all the time. After I say it at that moment, I might dwell on it for a minute-and-a-half, maybe two minutes, before I forget about it until someone brings it up to me like you just did. It’s not for them to give a fuck about, so I don’t give a fuck if they give a fuck about it. It’s my situation; it’s my demon.
You have a ton of music videos. What part of the video-making process do you enjoy the most?
That’s been my sauce since day one, especially before I got signed. I’d be in the studio recording songs, and if I like [the song], and I seen the reactions from my homeboys, then it’s a go. I used to shoot shit right then and there. It was days where I would go to the studio with two or three outfits just in case I made two or three songs I knew I was gonna wanna shoot videos for, and I’d shoot all the videos in that one day.
Nobody wants to be listening to you all the time; motherfuckers wanna see you. We know your jewelry look good; you got Cuban links and a bussdown [Audemars Piguet watch].
What is the most significant difference between being independent versus being signed to Asylum?
Independent, you gotta do all that shit on your own. With a label, you don’t; it’s really that simple. Motherfuckers get in the mix and get with the wrong labels, and that shit be weird. I don’t feel like all labels be bad labels because if they were, there wouldn’t be any. I got full creative control over my shit, and I still got a team to do shit for me. I got my publicist Michael; I got Olu with internet marketing; I got my A&Rs Nico and Wayno; I have a direct rapport with [Gabrielle Peluso], the CEO at Asylum. It’s different for me, man. They make me feel how this is supposed to feel. We get to business when we gotta get to business, but my label people are my people, you feel me? We eat together; we hang out, they be in the studio [with] me.
Skuba Sada 2 is a collection of songs not previously available on DSPs. Why was now the right time to release these songs on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.?
If I don’t do it now, we’d never do it. We’re also getting ready to have a rollout for my debut album. The few songs that made the cut on the album are powerful. Once we get to pushing the album and getting ready for the rollout, we gotta do any and everything to get it out there. Nothing can be in the way of that. The next quarter is only for my album. I’m not clearing no features, [I‘m] not clearing no old ass songs motherfuckers wanna pull out the woodwork, none of that.