Brother J of X-Clan
R.I.P. Professor X: August 4, 1956 – March 17, 2006
Lumumba “Professor X” Carson passed away from spinal meningitis on March 17, 2006. It was a loss felt throughout hip-hop. As a member of the pioneering group X-Clan — along with Brother J, Sugar Shaft and Paradise the Architect — Professor X left his mark on hip-hop as an artist and activist. X-Clan was the group corporate America didn’t want you to hear. They promoted Black pride, unity and self-awareness. Their work — 1990’s To The East, Blackwards, and 1992’s Xodus — were hard-hitting albums that addressed political and social issues with the goal of uplifting inner city youth. They instilled pride and social awareness. They wore African medallions and the colors of Black Nationalism — red, black and green —influencing artists such as dead prez. But to their credit, X-Clan wasn’t overbearing or preachy. Professor X, thanks to his catch phrases — “vanglorious” and “sissy!!” — provided a balance by delivering the group’s message while also having fun. While Public Enemy garnered most of the mainstream attention, X-Clan was just as influential. The group, however, disbanded after their second album.
Professor X was the son of legendary activist Sonny Carson. Therefore, it came as no surprise that X continued to make an impact on the community even after X-Clan broke up. Through his organization, Blackwatch Movement, which was formed in the 80’s, Professor X followed in his fathers’ footsteps by promoting social awareness and community activism. He continued to work with his Blackwatch Movement up until his death. But the foundation that Professor X laid will never be forgotten. On the one-year anniversary of his passing, XXLMag.com and X-Clan’s Brother J pay tribute to a hip-hop legend. Brother J discusses the past, present and future of Professor X’s Blackwatch Movement, as well as his influence on an entire generation of hip-hop fans.
Can you explain the values behind Professor X’s Blackwatch Movement?
Well, Professor X founded it and we have been apart of Blackwatch since about ’87 or ’88. Blackwatch was [intended] for people to experience Black Nationalist values in hip-hop music. And Black Nationalist values means improving the inner cities. When we were living in Brooklyn, we spoke about where we were living and speaking for the people we were raised around. As our message became more mature, we encouraged people of all ethnicities to step forward and represent their culture for freedom. I don’t want people to be scared of what I mean. It’s not a separatist terminology that I’m stating. It’s basically saying that we want to connect all the children of indigenous bloodlines that are here in the U.S. We want to start healing [them]. The pain is making them into drug addicts and addicts of violence and confrontation. There is hope for us to stop killing our neighbors and evolve gangs into movements like the Black Panthers. Blackwatch is an example of those movements and we’re taking examples of our eldership and putting them together so we can spark community development.
How are you pushing forward the Blackwatch agenda since Professor X passed?
Blackwatch is starting a petition of the people, gathering between 150,000 to 300,000 signatures, stating that we demand between two to three hours of conscious music to be played on the radio. And we’re going to bring our own sponsors because we don’t want any favors. It’s a business and we can’t ignore that. So the Blackwatch Movement is rallying the people to get a [radio] petition done in 2007. We can’t value one man [Professor X] above all things. But we can [continue] his intentions and values. If we are dissatisfied with the music we are receiving, then it’s time to step to the government and let them know we are forgetting about the people. It’s time for the media and the people that have been quiet to step up.
How did X-Clan originate?
It was hip-hop that brought us all together. Lumumba [Professor X] was managing hip-hop groups, Architect was working with the Latin Quarters as a talent manager and Sugar Shaft and I were DJs/MCs out of Brooklyn with a little substance on our tongue. Professor X’s eye on our talent helped us get into a position where Island Records saw the difference in our writings. We weren’t ego-tripping. We were speaking about things that were happening in the streets, such as drugs, the loss of eldership and things of that nature. It was a big risk for them [Island Records] to get involved.
Record labels were scared to sign X-Clan?
Yeah, but Island Records wasn’t scared. They had no fear of doing something different with black music. But on a regular label there was a lot of doubt about how to market a group [like us]. We are the black experience. We weren’t coming out with flat tops and the dance of the week. So it’s the same battle we are facing now, between pop music and conscious music. But the fans of X-Clan were partying and stepping to our music [as well]. We never had preachy conscious music that people had to stop and say, “Let’s sit down, start to pray and listen to X-Clan.” It wasn’t like that.
It’s been a year since Professor X passed away…
Almost a year ago to the day. He passed away from spinal meningitis on March 17, 2006. So it’s deep for us to be touring with Public Enemy right now in the month of our brother’s passing.
He was definitely an innovator and set his mark…
He was definitely a great ringmaster for what we were doing. He introduced conscious groups and new terminology. He was the original slang editorial. The “vanglorious” and “sissy” terminology has always filled the hearts of our fans and supporters. He was a serious mentor to me. But I didn’t like how the “sissy’ thing got out of control and become competition to [Flavor Flav’s] “yeah boyee!” I was more into Blackwatch and reforming that with him in his later days. But with his passing, he gave the baton to me for the direction of Blackwatch.
Check out some classic cuts from X-Clan below.
"Funkin' Lesson" To The East, Blackwards (1990)
"Raise The Flag" To The East, Blackwards (1990)
"Fire & Earth" (1991)