X-Clan’s Fight Against Racism Is More Relevant Than Ever (Video)
The late 1980s through early 1990s was a period in Hip-Hop when being socially conscious and educated about Black history and politics took precedent. The drug trade and gang warfare had rampantly plagued and virtually destroyed urban neighborhoods, and Rap’s “Afrocentric” movement was its counterattack that mirrored the Black Arts Movement of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s.
New York and New Jersey boasted acts who made Africanist diaspora fashionable and revived the Black Power movement in Hip-Hop including Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Poor Righteous Teachers, and Native Tongue members. Perhaps the most rhetorically militant among this cadre of acts was X-Clan.
Coming straight out of Brooklyn, the collective was comprised of their founder and manager Baba Professor X The Overseer, their main lyricist Grand Verbalizer Funkin’ Lesson Brother J, Paradise The Architect, and the group’s DJ Sugar Shaft the Rhythm Provider. To continue the legacy of his father and revered civil rights activist Sonny Carson, Professor X (born Lumumba Carson) took his roots in community activism and business acumen from his days as a manager and Hip-Hop nightclub impresario during the 1980s to form the Blackwatch Movement.
X-Clan’s name was an homage to their Islamic faith (“X” represents the unknown to denounce surnames generationally passed down from white American slave masters) and the religious lessons from the 5 Percent Nation of Gods and Earths. The group released two albums: the afro-futuristic To The East Blackwards in 1990 (which sports a 1959 pink Cadillac on its album cover), and Xodus in 1992. Both LPs peaked at #11 on the Billboard Top Rap/Hip-Hop Album charts and gained cult followings for their unremitting displays of Black pride and Egyptology. They galvanized the African-American community to rock to the beats of their ancestry with funky record samples such as Parliament, Funkadelic, Zapp, James Brown, and the Last Poets.
Their sophomore and final album Xodus exhibited the strongest of the group with Brother J’s muscular delivery and barrage of bars attacking white supremacy and minstrelsy. On the album’s first single “Fire and Earth,” they took the N-word and reversed its denigration into a powerful statement to combat the U.S. government’s history of oppression against people of color, white racist police officers, and mainstream media.
Professor X’s favorite word “vanglorious” and repeated African flag-inspired phrase “protected by the Red, the Black, and the Green” was a shield against white supremacists, as shown in the beginning of “Fire and Earth” and the album’s second single “Xodus.”
The images of race riots and mocking people of color are reflective of the present political climate. As professional athletes, prominent media personalities, and artists like Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody, and J. Cole use their voice to combat injustice in America, it is history repeating itself of X-Clan’s message from 25 years ago.