Who is Sadistik?
Seattle native Cody Foster, better known as Sadistik, is one of hiphop’s most unique, talented, and consistent artists. Formerly signed to Ceschi Ramos’ Fake Four Records, he released his debut album The Balancing Act in 2008. Since then, he has amassed an elite discography including more than 12 albums, EPs, and collaborations. Today, he is completely independent.
Often associated with other labelmates and backpack legends (such as Cage, Kristoff Krane, Nacho Picasso, Sheisty Kreist, Astronautalis, Chino XL, and the late great Eyedea to name a few), Sadistik still stands out amid the scene. Lyrically, he cites Lupe Fiasco and Aesop Rock as massive influences. Their extremely dense, verbose lyrics and rhyme schemes shine clearly through in his own work. His flow, while notably monotonous, is technical and often among the fastest you can find. The themes and aesthetic of his music however, are peerless. An avid horror fan, his music consistently makes obscure, disturbing references which he uses as a lens to examine his own world. Highly introspective, Sadistik is able to reflect his emotions through violent yet beautiful metaphors. Whether it be witch trials, foreign horror films, classic literature, or cult leaders, he translates these complex emotions into something mysterious, frightening, and relatable.
If there is one song to impress and tell you who Sadistik is as an artist, it’s “Mourning Glory”. From the 2016 EP Salo Sessions (inspired by the infamous film 120 Days of Sodom), this record gives a taste of everything he does best. With the first two verses being highly emotive – employing powerful, tortured imagery, and mourning his late father – the third verse comes with a beat switch and what is truly one of the most impressive rhyme schemes in the genre’s history.
Flowers For My Father (2013)
While his prior works were great, Flowers For My Father is, in my opinion, the album where Sadistik truly came into his own and first had a fully realized project. While still distinctly backpacky, evocative of Rhymesayers and Fake Four of course, he shined through with some earworms, elite technical skill, and quality features. An important aspect of Flowers For My Father is also how each song is so different both sonically and conceptually. For example, there is a song inspired by poet Czeslaw Milosz, one about being in a relationship with an addict, and a storytelling tribute to his friend, the legendary Eyedea. Overall, this album is a great achievement for the subgenre and an important milestone in Sadistik’s career.
Phantom Limbs (2015)
Fully produced by Kno of The CunninLynguists, this is a relatively upbeat, fun listen. With lush beats and beautiful vocal samples (particularly on “To Be in Love” and “In Heaven”), he is able to deliver his typically introspective lyrics and some experimental flows. The posse cut “Unaware” is a lyrical slaughter with some impressive one liners.
Of all his quality work, Altars is easily Sadistik’s crowning achievement. By far his most lyrically dense and technical, it is also his darkest and most aggressive. Despite this over-the-top horror imagery and the hard beats, feelings of isolation and dejection shine through. Tracks like “Roaches” and “Honeycomb” evoke hazy nights locked away; “Cotard’s Syndrome”, referencing a mental disease in which the patient believes themselves to be dead, and “Salem Witches” are genuine bangers; “Voodoo Dali” and “Silhouettes”, are gracefully dark and mysterious. On top of all this are themes of faith, morality, and addiction. This album is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.
Haunted Gardens (2019)
A departure from his past style, Haunted Gardens is yet another phenomenal entry in Sadistik’s discography. Somber and downtrodden, this album is even more overtly depressing than any of his other work. Without many really hard beats or particularly dense rhymes, he instead focuses on putting these wisful, low feelings into the most beautiful words available; Many of these verses truly read like poetry. Comparing his experiences to walking over coals, his father’s memories “cutting like koi gills”, and pushing daisies grown in piss, the imagery on this album is so powerful and relatable that it can often be a difficult listen.
All of this being said, he has no subpar projects; Even the ones not listed above are all enjoyable at the very least and warrant a listen if you become a fan.
Some other noteworthy songs across his discography include “Castles” by CunninLynguists and Aesop Rock, “Aileen Wournos” (a tribute to a serial killer), “Gummo”, “Zodiac” with Mick Jenkins, and “Kerosene Dreams”.
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