Interview: Sabzi (of Blue Scholars)

Interview: Sabzi (of Blue Scholars)

Sabzi, one half of collectives Blue Scholars and Common Market, is a remarkable producer. Unfortunately, not everyone knows his skilled productions and he definitely deserves more attention. That’s why we hooked up with him to talk about his music, both projects and upcoming releases.

Sabzi, one half of collectives Blue Scholars and Common Market, is a remarkable producer. Unfortunately, not everyone knows his skilled productions and he definitely deserves more attention. That’s why we hooked up with him to talk about his music, both projects and upcoming releases.

Preview: Blue Scholars – Loyalty

First of all, thanks for taking the time to do this. It’s really appreciated! So, let’s pretend I had no idea who you were. Introduce yourself, if you don’t mind.
My name is Saba.  People also know me as Sabzi.  DJ/Producer; one half of Blue Scholars, and one half of Common Market.

Have you ever thought about creating an instrumental album under your own name?
I have absolutely thought about doing a solo record, or at least simply putting out more instrumentals that people can just bump in the ride.  I might just start making them available for download and not even limit them to only being on a record.

Will MassLine stay indie, or are you looking to move major?
Massline is a brand more than anything else. It’s an identity that serves as a base for a handful of records, as well as events and community efforts.  As each of us develop as individual artists, we may find that we might want to do more in addition to all things “massline” related. If that means being on a major, starting another label, giving up music and making movies instead… whatever, then so be it.

This question is really cliched, and I’m sorry – but how do you feel about downloading music?
I think it’s great. The more the music gets out there, the better.  At this point it’s really up to the listener if they want to pay for music or not. Either way, as long as the music is out there, bootlegged or bought, I’m for it.

Outside of Blue Scholars / Common Market, who would you most like to craft a beat for?
Anybody who makes really good music.

Do you see yourself eventually working with other people, apart from Geologic and RA Scion?
Of course.  I already have some projects in the works. =)

How do you go about finding and utilizing samples?
That’s like asking a skateboarder how they skate.  I don’t know…  I just do it? Haha.  I take whatever sounds dope and try to make a song out of it. Really simple.

The Sylvers song used for “Loyalty” was also used in Foreign Exchange’s “All That You Are” a couple years prior. I love when people flip the same sample, others hate it – but did you know that the sample had been used, or did you only find out afterwards?
Good question!  I had that Foreign Exchange album when it came out and best believe I bumped it hard. As for Loyalty, honestly I don’t think I was conscious of it at the time I made the beat like “Oh this is the sylvers joint that FE used. Cool, I’m gonna do it to.”  It was more like “Hey, that’s an ill sample, sounds familiar”, and then later on I hear the FE joint again and I’m like “Oh duh, that’s where it was from”.

I think Nicolay’s version is dope, definitely chopped it up more. It’s cool when two beatmakers flip the same sample but usually only when one does it different than how it was done before. If somebody uses the same sample the same way in which it was used before, then that’s more on the lame side.

How long does it take you to craft a beat?
1 to 6 hours I guess, depending on what’s going into it. One hour for a beat, six for a real “song.” And then of course there’s minor tweaking and stuff that happens later after further listening.

The piano solo at the end of “Tobacco Road” really ties everything on the great album together. Will you be doing things like that more often?

Preview: Common Market – Tobacco Road

I’ve noticed your brother Zia does plenty of video work with you guys. Is your whole family as creative as you two?
I don’t know. Time will tell.  I’m real hyped to see what kind of projects Zia finishes this year. He’s got a few big things in the works… way bigger than Blue Scholars videos haha!

What’s your favorite song?
Of all time or that we’ve made?  I can’t really answer the “of all time” angle; too many songs to list. As for what I’ve had the opportunity to work on, I think Loyalty, Bayani, Tobacco Road, and a couple other joints usually are battling for the number 1-spot.

Will you be doing more impromptu songs – similar to “Coffee and Snow” and RA’s sequel? That seemed like a lot of fun, and I know I enjoyed it.
100 percent: absolutely yes!  This is the future of music.

In music, what is your ultimate goal? For you personally, what would you have to accomplish for you to sit back and say “This is the pinnacle”?
Honestly man, I feel like I’ve learned that if I try to decide what the pinnacle of success is for me now, then I’ll only be limiting myself to just that. Regardless of your career, who you are or what you do, you never know what life has in store for you. It might be something far greater than the best thing you could have imagined for yourself. I love music and I’m really enjoying this music/entrepreneur lifestyle. My plan is to just enjoy it more every day. All I can tell you is that the pinnacle has yet to be reached.

If someone picks up an album that you were involved with in some way (production, etc), what would you say to make sure they bought it?
Ha, I don’t know.  How about “I like it, maybe you will too.”

Do you think you have musical limits?
Sure I do.  I just try not to think about those, haha!

Do you want to be a musical legend?
Lol.  John Legend is a musical Legend.

Thanks for stopping by! We really appreciates your time! Best of luck to you and your team, any last words? Maybe any future projects you’d like to announce?
Just stay posted to and you’ll hear about anything interesting we got goin’ on!  Thank you for the interview.


Words by: Andrew Lonczak
More info: Blue Scholars / Common Market

Just an ordinary guy always on the hunt for extraordinary music. Not just as the founder of The Find Magazine & Rucksack Records, but also as a freelance music journalist (bylines at Tracklib, Bandcamp, Wax Poetics, DIG Mag, among others) and—above all—out of love for all kinds of good music.