Better off unknown
How SahBabii is making the world a better place for himself through Unknownism
Photographer Sam Balaban
SahBabii is better off “unknown”

In a world that’s messed up and off the shits, you can sometimes find solace and community in art. Saheem Valdery, the 21-year-old rapper better known as SahBabii, is doing just that. With his debut mixtape SANDAS, he created a bright and fun-as-hell sexcapade soundscape of a universe you can float through. And it turns out he has an accompanying life philosophy, called Unknownism. Over the phone from his home in Atlanta, Sah told us about his beliefs, and how they’re helping him understand and navigate Earth.

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SAHBABII: I look at life beyond just what it is. Mind, body, and world — all of that is spirituality to me. Whatever goes on in your mind, it can affect you physically, and that can affect the world. Just thinking about something can affect the world.

I believe in karma, that whatever you put out in the world, you get it back. Like, the other day we were playing basketball and I blocked one of my friend’s shots real hard and he fell on the floor. Later I fell on the floor and scraped my knee and cut my hand open. If you just stay positive around friends and family, that probably helps them, makes their day better, and they can make somebody else’s day better, like a big chain reaction.

When I think about my ideal world, I always say Pangaea — that’s when the world was connected. When I close my eyes, I just picture everybody from different races holding hands, just like how Michael Jackson had everyone. I believe there shouldn’t be no hate, and everyone should love each other. I think it’s stupid for someone to hate another person because of their skin color. I just look at the world getting better and better, and people just need to stop doing stupid shit.

A lot of people always hated on me. I didn’t have that many friends. Negative energy, it took a hold on me with depression. I was stressed out, I had a bald spot in my head. I was suicidal. Not having no clothes, seeing people flexing money, my music wasn’t popping off. There was a lot of stuff going on in my life, so I took my anger out on other people in the streets.

I stayed positive to make it out of that time. I used to smoke weed, but weed used to do something to my mind. I started getting into activities like boxing and kept going harder at my music. I cut a lot of people out, because having a lot of people around you means a lot of different energies to take in. A lot of people don’t be on the same stuff you on. I stayed with my day ones and my family. Now I’m happy to wake up every day.

“I cut a lot of people out, because having a lot of people around you means a lot of different energies to take in. A lot of people don’t be on the same stuff you on. I stayed with my day ones and my family. Now I’m happy to wake up every day.” —SahBabii

I used to ask myself, Why did whoever created the Earth just let stuff like this go on? Why, when I pray or ask for stuff, it never comes to me? Why do kids get raped? Why do hurricanes and earthquakes happen? I decided it’s kind of unknown. Slavemasters used Christianity to enslave us. The KKK wore the Christian cross, so I made it upside down because I think it’s kind of stupid for people of my skin color to wear that. I don’t like racism, period. I wanted to bring the world together with some type of system. I want to create schools and centers. With Unknownism I just want to bring everybody together, the whole world.

One of my cousins brought me the perspective that maybe the whole world is a test, so I created my own ideology. It’s a secret behind everything — I just wanted to know more, the truth about everything. The 6 protons, 6 electrons, and 6 neutrons — that was some knowledge I got from my uncle. That’s carbon, and carbon helps make melanin. It’s in everyone. 666, that’s the number of man. So Unknownism, it’s really for people of all colors.

Everything you learn outside of school, you aren’t really going to learn in school. There’s a lot of stuff I never knew. I never knew that Benjamin Banneker, [a free black man], created the clock. School really doesn’t touch on religion, either. Things that I ended up learning from outside sources, they never really told us. I want to uncover everything, the secrets, the things that we don’t know. I want to know about Area 51. I was just looking at all these hurricanes that were on the same day — I want to figure out, Why’s that?

A big moment when positivity had an effect on me was when I started uploading snippets of my music and SANDAS on Instagram — it really was the fans. Reading the comments, the good stuff they were saying about me really lifted me up. That made me keep going. I wouldn’t have dropped SANDAS, probably, but the fans really made me feel positive.

Musically, I just try to be myself. I like to rap about things that I have fun with. Sex is fun to me, people have a good time. “Marsupial Superstars,” for example — I like playing Nintendo, I just be myself. If I was in a real studio, I wouldn’t ever have made that crazy noise I made on there, because people would have been looking at me like, What the fuck is this nigga doing, acting a fool in the studio? I was just being myself. I hope people get that they can be themselves. When you just be yourself, you can unlock a lot of things.

I like to sound light, I like the melodies to sound like you’re kissing Cupid. I want that motherfucker to sound like heaven. I don’t really like dark music. It can have an effect on your mind, just like if you watch scary movies, and they can put your whole mind in a different place. If you listen to lighter, colorful stuff, you could visualize something just by hearing it, just like how you can see something just by smelling it.

“I hope people get that they can be themselves. When you just be yourself, you can unlock a lot of things.” —SahBabii
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The world is whatever you make it. You could be in a dark place, like I was before, or you could be in a light place, depending on what you do. But like I said, you’ve got to do activities. If you like to draw, keep drawing, man. Play a sport. Take your mind to another place.

Having a son made me have a different outlook on life too. I really gotta go harder because it’s not just about me anymore. I can’t get angry, I don’t really even argue no more, because I know that can affect him. I want to be here forever. So I always protect the house. I’m always on point. I don’t sleep with fans on. I get up when I hear a noise and look out the window. I’m always protective of the house — I love everybody in this house. I make sure I observe and listen to everything when I’m outside, inside, wherever.

When my son grows up, he’s going to be seeing the same negativity that we’re seeing. I don’t want him to know about it. I want to have hopefully changed the world before all of that. It’s crazy what can happen to the human body and it makes me cherish life more, seeing how people in other countries are being treated. That makes me appreciate being in America. People shouldn’t be treated like that, and I want to change all of that.

SahBabii is better off “unknown”