This week's Monday Magick entry comes from one of the biggest influences upon my own journey into the so-called "occult", Brooklyn, New York Hip-Hop collective XCLAN. The group was founded in the late '80s by Lumumba "Professor X, The Overseer" Carson (son of notable political activist Sonny Carson and a community organizer in his own right) and Paradise "The Architect" Grey (promoter at at the legendary Latin Quarter nightclub and, alongside Carson, erstwhile talent manager), with "verbalizer" Brother J, and DJ/producer Sugar Shaft rounding out the lineup. They released their most powerful works, 1990's 'To the East, Blackwards'
and 1992's 'Xodus'
, during the tail-end of Hip-Hop's "golden age".
Though possibly most widely known for feuds with Boogie Down Productions frontman KRS-One, and former proteges 3rd Bass, their striking physical presence and stylized image, and their leadership of the Blackwatch political movement, the group's lyrical content was incredible in its breadth and scope. Unlike similar acts, XCLAN's lead emcee Brother J wasn't just a "philosopher" or "teacher", a political firebrand, a Black Muslim, or a 5%er, he was a Black Nationalist, and a mystic. His verses dug fantastically deep into subjects like Egyptology, Voudoun, Freemasonry, chaos, metaphysics, and more, all backed by some of the most innovative and forward-thinking cut-n-paste style production heard during the era. And while the group's very concept was inextricably Afrocentric, the references and vernacular that their music was so steeped in could lead anyone curious enough to learn more in any number of directions, which for someone like me included the "dark paths" of the occult and magick. The brothers in XCLAN weren't just musicians, or political activists, they were Shaman, and they certainly helped alter my mindstate enough that it ultimately proved open enough to accept initiation and illumination.
I reported some years ago here on Imageyenation about the untimely passing of Professor X, who lost his life to complications related to spinal meningitis in 2006. He joined Sugar Shaft, who passed due to the the AIDS virus in 1995. Paradise remains a respected figure within the Hip-Hop community who frequently shares his knowledge and memories via the internet. Meanwhile, Brother J still carries the XCLAN flag and his released several projects featuring different lineups of a new millennium XCLAN.
The 2012 film 'Iron Sky'
, a movie about Nazis on the moon returning to conquer Earth, had a great premise, but was bogged down by some really silly bullshit.
I actually fell asleep while watching it.
Apparently a sequel, 'Iron Sky The Coming Race'
is in the works, which appears to draw on the Hollow Earth mythology of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's early sci-fi novel 'Vril, the Power of the Coming Race'
, which is believed to have inspired the more mystical aspects of the Nazi party.
That sounds, and looks, like another great premise.
I just hope they leave some of the more over-the-top comedic elements (did the Tyrannosaurus give the "heil Hitler"?) out this time.
Sorry folks, but Monday Magick will be taking this week off.
We'll be back with another entry of our magickal musical feature next week.
The Diaz sisters, better known as Techno-Vodou priestesses Ibeyi, are about that Blues business on their new single "Mama Says".
The vocal is pure, simple, sufferation, while the handclaps and drums give us a modern take on the Afro-Latin tribal heartbeat, and the piano exhibits all the jazziness of a New Orleans Masonic funeral procession.
Then there's that chant to Elegua.
The video is a tearjerker. Literally.
"Mama Says" is from Ibeyi's self-titled debut album, due out February 16th on XL Recordings.
Art-Rap hero Open Mike Eagle is in top form on "Dark Comedy Late Show", the Exile-produced remix of 'Dark Comedy'
album opener "Dark Comedy Morning Show".
Mike drops all new lyrics that are altogether earnest, sarcastic, witty, dead serious, overt, and obscure, which straddle the fence between making you laugh out loud or cry your eyes out.
Songs like this are why dude is one of the best in the game.
Open Mike Eagle
It doesn't really get more blatantly occult than this week's Monday Magick entry, "Devil's Son", courtesy of Harlem native and Diggin' In The Crates crew ambassador Lamont "Big L" Coleman. The tune was originally intended to be featured on the emcee's 1995 debut 'Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous' and was actually released as the album's first promotional single on white label 12'', but was ultimately deemed "too dark" and left off the final tracklist.
Built around two vocal samples of rapper Nasir "Nas" Jones ("When I as 12, I went to Hell for snuffin' Jesus" from Main Source's "Live at the BBQ" and "I'm wavin' automatic guns at nuns" from MC Serch's "Back to the Grill", still two of the veteran artists best performances) "Devil's Son" finds Coleman sort of picking up where Mr. Jones left off lyrically. He busts stream of conscious couplets enumerating his various evil or Satanic qualities in a signature horrorcore style over thick, Jazz-flavored production from D.I.T.C. co-hort Showbiz which lends the track a churning, bubbling quality not unlike a witches cauldron or how one might imagine the pits of Hell sounding. Most of his lines, as outrageous as they are, are played for comedy, or shock value, and they certainly succeed, both in amusing and shocking. It's been alleged that Coleman originally intended the line "and I kill chumps for the cheapest price, I'm rollin' with Satan, not Jesus Christ" to end "I'm rolling with Satan, fuck Jesus Christ" but was urged to make the change by associates who felt he'd "gone too far". Regardless, "Devil's Son" is a classic of mid-'90s Hip-Hop, especially of the so-called "horrorcore" genre, and a standout in Big L's cannon which includes several incredible records.
Sadly Big L was murdered on February 15th, 1999 at 45 West 139th Street in his native Harlem after being shot nine times in the face and chest. At the time of his death he had guest starred on numerous classic hits, released one solo LP, put out a string of successful singles, had fronted the horror-themed supergroup Children ov da Corn featuring Killa Cam (a.k.a. Cam'ron) and Murda Mase (a.k.a. Ma$e), and was preparing his second album, 'The Big Picture', which was ultimately released posthumously in 2000.
Music is magick!
Leader of LA's beatmaking avant-garde Flying Lotus both loses and uses his head in the gruesome David Firth-directed video clip for "Ready Err Not".
The video, which features a ton of blood and disembodied limbs, reminds me of a mixture of painter Robert Williams' outrageous imagery and tool member Adam Jones' stop-motion animation for his band's videos.
"Ready Err Not" is on FlyLo's newest LP 'You're Dead!'
, which is out now on Warp Records.