I was into today's Monday Magick entry, an Austin, Texas-based rapper, poet, and musician going by the absurd monicker MC 900 (ft. Jesus), about the same time I was getting into XCLAN. Around that time I probably watched MTV's "alternative" program '120 Minutes' just as much as 'YO! MTV Raps', which is where I was exposed to the video for "Truth is Out of Style". For some reason the catchy jam and ill visual accompaniment inspired me to immediately run out and cop his Nettwerk Music/IRS Records debut 'Hell With the Lid Off' on cassette.
In hindsight, there's a lot of occult imagery in the video, and even more-so on the album, though I don't know that's what caught my attention at the time. I was aware that MC 900's name was inspired by an Oral Roberts sermon that recounted the televangelist being visited by a 900 foot Jesus, so the dark religious imagery just seemed to fit. But I only began to explore those themes in a truly meaningful way when I revisited the album after some years had passed. It's been a favorite for decades, and I find that aside from being a groundbreaking musician, who was blending Hip-Hop, turntablism, House, Electronica, Jazz, Downtempo, and Lounge in a cut-n-paste style years before there was a Trip-Hop or any of that shit, he was a master surrealist and social critic, and his use of was clearly on a unique trip that embraced the occult, the psychedelic, Discordianism, and maybe even some of what RAW was smoking.
Ultimately MC 900 (ft. Jesus) became disillusioned with the entertainment industry and left the business, right when the brand of outsider Hip-Hop he pioneered sort of became "normal" thanks to the rise of the internet-fueled indie underground. He did however release a handful of other records, which all have their charms, before his retirement. I spoke to one of his former collaborators via MySpace during its heyday and they indicated it was very unlikely he'd mount a comeback.
Music is magick!
I've got tickets to see these dudes in Beantown this Friday.
Their second LP as a duo, 'Run the Jewels 2'
, is an easy contender for album of the year.
"Blockbuster Night" is full of alliterative wordplay and darkly violent imagery.
Shit is hard.
Run the Jewels is El-P and Killer Mike.
Cop their new record.
Run the Jewels
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