What do college basketball, mental health, and a pitbull named Royce Da 5’9 have in common? They all make up the experiential patchwork quilt of one young ATL rapper who goes by the name of Saturated. Write Key author Cree Armstead took a plunge into the deep end with Justin Edwards, better known as Saturated, and we’re happy to say, the water and the music is great.
The young man in front of me sports platinum curls and a bright smile- a look that bears a stark contrast to the deep, heavy subject matter of his music. The Book of Satch, his first album, is a testament to mental health struggles, a topic many of us tend to keep under wraps. In an effort to remove the taboo, Satch is putting his own battles with depression at the forefront of his art . As deep as the album is, it's not just a sad story on display. On the contrary-for every emotional lament on the record, there is a solid set of bars laced with clever lyrics and bullet fast timing to deliver it. With another album in the pipeline, Satch aims to continue the story of “Book, while exploring the lighter side of healing and hip hop. Check out our conversation below:
C: Let’s talk about The Book of Satch. I really love how it touches on mental health-something we tend to shy away from, especially in the black community, As of late, artists like yourself have been critical in bringing those struggles to the forefront and starting a conversation. How has this album played a role for you as far as a form of expression and healing?
S: First off, I would say it helped save my life. The Book of Satch came from a crazy time...I was really doing music my whole life but basketball was my main focus. Long story short, I had to drop out of school and stop playing basketball because of the depression. I was trying to hold onto everything, and basketball was the last thing I had so when that ended, that was rock bottom. I didn't know where to go, and that’s when I really got into the music. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, or at least no one I trusted, so The Book of Satch is where I found peace.
C: So laying your thoughts and your struggle on wax has helped you achieve personal peace?
S: Exactly. I have a big wall up. I’m a deep, thoughtful person but I’m not the type of guy who just lets everybody in on that.I went through something traumatic and I wasn't going to talk to friends about it, I wasn't in therapy yet, so really, the only thing I had was the beats.
C: Do you want to touch on some of the things that inspired that album? Can you tell me about Satch-the man behind The Book?
S: *laughs* That’s a tough man to get to. What I will say is my depression was suicidal and very isolated. It was definitely hard to see...and a very lonely one. The misconception with social media...we only show people what we want them to see. I was dealing with heartbreak as well, and that's still one of the hardest things for me to talk about.
C: Speaking of that front, on “Broken Hearted” you say, I played like I was strong for so long/ that I don’t find it hard to fake it.” Playing strong. Why do you think seeking therapy for mental health is so taboo in our community? We’ve seen it recently with a particular artist ridiculing another rapper when they checked themselves in for rehab
S: That’s one of the problems in our community. People like that. The stigma...and the idea that we have to be the strong black males with no weaknesses. I think that comes from a lot of us growing up without having both parents. It starts there and it’s institutionalized throughout our community. I feel like it’s a problem in hip hop and in black communities, period.
C: Recently I've seen that artists like yourself have been a mouthpiece for mental health among black men.
S: Shout out to Logic. I like what he’s doing. With me personally, I’m talking about mental health but also about whatever I need to. I’m not going to fake it-if I’m not suicidally depressed right now, I’m not going to go make a record about it. I think a lot of us are doing a good job talking about [mental health] when we just do it organically.
C: So it’s very important to you to remain genuine throughout your process.
S: Very important. If you meet me, I’m still gonna be a real nigga. I’m gonna talk how I talk, but I care about [the topics in] my music, so I need that separation.
C: Let’s talk about your musical influences. As I was listening I heard some different sounds, and you can tell me if I’m completely wrong -
S: I love hearing this, always.
C: I heard a few nods to Kendrick. I heard a lot of Eminem’s style, the switching and elongating of vowels to fit the pattern, the contrasting personalities. Who were some of your biggest musical influences?
S: I grew up listening to Eminem. I got the explicit version of The Eminem Show for Christmas in the 1st grade. My parents didn’t know. *laughs* Once that hip hop influence got into me, that was it. I was always going to be a rapper. These days...it’s Royce da 5’9. My dog is named after Royce, he's [such] a huge inspiration. I dropped The Book of Satch on 3/16 because I thought he was going to drop Book of Ryan on 3/16. I’m a huge fan. Kendrick too. I love his melodies and his pitch changes. He's at the forefront of lyricists. And he’s just disgusting as a rapper. I look up to him.
C: Being a NY transplant to ATL, you have unique perspective on the city. How has Atlanta played a role in your music?
S: Shout out to the city first of all. I fuck with Atlanta. Wzen I first came down here [as a child], I was resisting everything about the city. I rhought everybody sucked. But as I’ve been growing, I’ve learned to accept and appreciate what [ATL rappers] do and incorporate it into my music,. Everyone has something they do well.
C: The sounds of NY rap versus Dirty South couldn't be more different.
S: I know! I was hatin’ when I first moved here.
C: What was it like collaborating with DMajor?
S: Shoutout to DMajor first of all for everything he’s done. The Sound Machine is a great studio. Steppin’ Out was awesome. I got to experiment with my sound a little bit. I pictured that as an overseas type sound. I actually traveled to Italy recently and was able to incorporate a little Italian into my verse. I liked how everything came together. We had great chemistry on the track. It was dope.
C: If you had your pick of the crop to collaborate with, who would you choose?
S: Royce. Man, I want a Royce vollab, I want an Em collab. I want that JID feature. He’s a real lyricist out of Atlanta.
C: Let's talk about your brand new apparel line, SATCH Brand. How was it birthed and what are you hoping to achieve with it?
S: First things, first-the way Satch came to be. I used to play basketball at Oglethorpe University In my high school days i got my nickname “Wet 3’s”.. I had to connect it to rap, so...the wettest you can be is saturated, boom. Everyone started calling me “Satch” for short. After I dropped The Book of Satch and I was talking about my depression, I realized “Wow, this is a lot bigger than Justin, this is a lot bigger than ‘Wet 3’s’ ”. I had to come up with something that really shows what my message is. Five, six months [later],I came up with Stories After Trials Changed Him. As far as the clothing brand, our message is Spread Awareness Through Conversation Healing. I’m working with Brandon Iverson of Young Moguls. It will be available at satchbrand.com and on IG @SATCHBRAND, and we’ll be shipping worldwide within a month.
C: What can we expect on your upcoming album, Satch Chapter II?
S: The Book of Satch was breaking the ground into officially becoming a rapper and sharing my story. On Satch: Chapter II you can expect more personal stories but a different tone because of where I am in life. I had to slow some things down [on the previous album] to get my message across.You're gonna get more of the rapid-fire flows and even more variety of the types of songs. I’m very excited about it. It's similar to The Book of Satch in that it’s telling stories but it's a completely different sound and a better sound. It’s more advanced because I've grown as an artist.
C: Awesome, looking forward to it! When does it drop?
S: It’s not done yet, but the first single “Same Dude”just dropped and we’ve got a visual dropping soon. We are looking to drop the whole project early to mid next year, but we’ll see how things play out.
C: What do you want listeners to walk away with after listening to Chapter II?
S: That they can make it. Chapter II is more hopeful and inspiring. Even with The Book of Satch, I left them on a sad note because honestly, after that album I was still figuring things out. I’m still [doing that] now, which is why I can write music that’s going to touch people, from a perspective of someone with less heartbreak, more wisdom and more motivation.
The Book of Satch and new single “Same Dude” are available to stream on Apple Music. Download, listen and share, then drop your favorite song in the comments!
Photos by @CooleyWitt226
Follow Satch on IG @saturatedmusic
Infamous Sound Music Line, LLC
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.