“This is protected by the red, the black and green/ With a key, siss-eeeeeeeee!” That’s the Professor X most hip-hop fans will identify with — not the wheelchair-bound mutant who leads a group of superheroes against the forces of evil.
If you were listening to rap in the early ’90s, there’s no doubt you heard the provocative Professor X and his New York-based group X-Clan.
On Friday, Lumumba “Professor X” Carson, whose outfit’s best-known records are “Funkin’ Lesson” and “Fire & Earth (100% Natural),” died in a New York hospital after succumbing to spinal meningitis at the age of 49. Although X-Clan released just two albums and never enjoyed the commercial success of their politically minded contemporaries (particularly Public Enemy), X and his crew still carved out a slice of hip-hop history for themselves with their funky beats and rhymes about afrocentrism and activism.
When it was cool for fans to wear African medallions and chains, the Clan actually took their culture awareness several steps higher with their clothing, music and Blackwatch activist movement.
Their 1990 debut, To the East Blackwards, was both critically lauded and heralded in the streets. And even though X, the son of activist/community leader Sonny Carson, actually didn’t rap (most of the rhymes laid in the reins of Brotha J), his distinctive nasal tone when he spoke, and his ad-libs — like “Vanglorious and siss-eeeeee!” — took the records up a notch.
A public wake for Professor X will be held on Thursday in Brooklyn, New York, with a public funeral following on Friday. The Professor’s loved ones are still ironing out the details and will release more information soon.