Becoming a hip-hop legend is no easy feat. The drive, dedication, and degree of distinction that quantifies an emcee’s inherent worth, versus his or her weight in gold and platinum plaques, is an alchemy that eludes most. The ability to stand the test of time and ride the tide of changes in trends requires an unparalleled mastery of the art form and a keen eye that presents a challenge to many. After three decades in the game, it’s safe to say that Sadat X has more than earned his status in the pantheon of hip-hop. As a founding member of lauded hip-hop group Brand Nubian, the New Rochelle, NY native helped shape an influential new aesthetic in the genre during the early 90s. And now with the release of his ninth solo effort Love, Hell or Right on Canadian based label 6.8.2 Records, Sadat reminds hip-hop fans of his supreme lyrical prowess with a little of the old and a little of the new. “You have to go through hell in order to do right.” he says of the album’s appellation. “It’s dedicated to the hardworking people and not about fame and glory. Hip Hop spans the globe, its universal. It’s an art – it doesn’t imitate, it creates.”
Love, Hell or Right is a heavy-hitting collection of 14 tracks from an emcee in his finest form with assists from some of hip-hop’s notable point guards. Featuring production from beatsmiths such as DJ Spinna (Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch), Showbiz (Fat Joe, Big L), Marco Polo (KRS-One, J-Live), Grant Parks (AG, KRS One), and Scram Jones (Mariah Carey, Ghostface Killah), the album takes its title from a degree lesson of the Five Percent Nation of Earths and Gods – a faith Sadat has practiced since his early years with Brand Nubian. Though Love, Hell or Right shines a light on the lyrical aptitude of guest emcees Mysonne, N.O.R.E., Pharoahe Monch, Smif n’ Wessun, and Roc Marciano, the album also finds Sadat journeying back to hip-hop’s golden era with featured artists such as Masta Ace, Dres (Black Sheep), Jarobi (A Tribe Called Quest), and AG (Showbiz & AG).
The album’s propulsive lead single “This Is Our Thing” features Pharoahe Monch and Phil G, produced by Chi-town star Grant Parks. Sadat also took the opportunity to useLove, Hell or Right as a platform to speak about a largely ignored issue in hip-hop that continues to plague urban communities with his song “Cancer.” “It’s grown man music.” he says. “Now that my generation has grown and matured, I’m making music for them.”
Sadat has expanded his horizons and added the titles of educator and firefighter to his impressive resume of skills and attributes. He has done voiceover work for World of Adventure Sports, Aura 360, and 360 Productions Group. He was recently featured on MTV’s television series MADE (Season 11) where he spent five weeks coaching an aspiring 17-year-old rapper from St. Louis, MO. Over the years, artists such as Jay Z, Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Common, MC Lyte, Miguel Migs, and even the alt-folk troubadour Jack Johnson have called upon Sadat’s percussive flow and lyrical dexterity to bolster their already iconic outputs.
His majestic flow is ever present on Love, Hell or Right, a driving album that stands as much more than just another notch in his belt as a solo artist and a pioneering hip-hop figure.
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