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 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 from any number of disciplines, 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 has released several projects featuring different lineups of a new millennium XCLAN.
Music is magick.