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About Professor X

As a member of the fiercely polemical hip-hop collective X-Clan, Professor X spearheaded rap music's embrace of Black Nationalist politics, later continuing his activism with a series of solo efforts. The son of civil rights pioneer Sonny Carson, Professor X was born Lumumba Carson in Brooklyn in 1956. As a child, he met Malcolm X and regularly accompanied his father in traveling to political rallies both at home and abroad. But as a teen Carson drifted into gang life, and was shot, stabbed, and imprisoned before rededicating his life to politics, vowing to introduce his father's principles into hip-hop. Carson first entered the music business as a promoter for rappers like Whodini. Some years older than the artists he mentored, he eventually dubbed himself Professor X in honor of the brilliant guru leading comic book heroes the X-Men. In 1988 Professor X teamed with Grand Verbalizer Funkin' Lesson "Brother J" (born Jason Hunter), the Rhythem Provider "Sugar Shaft" (Anthony Hardin), and Grand Architect "Paradise" (Claude Grey) to found the Brooklyn-based X-Clan. Clad in medallions and traditional Black Nationalist gear, X-Clan immediately served notice that their music would serve to educate and uplift listeners of all races and creeds. Professor X was the group's sage, spouting his signature lyric "Vainglorious! This is protected by the red, the black, and the green with a key, sissy!" on several cuts on their acclaimed 1990 debut LP, To the East, Blackwards. The album fell just shy of the R&B Top Ten, as did its 1992 follow-up, Xodus. In the interim, Professor X issued his debut solo effort, Years of the 9, On the Blackhand Side, and after X-Clan dissolved, he resurfaced in 1993 with Puss 'n Boots (The Struggle Continues...). As the rise of gangsta rap cast conscious hip-hop to the commercial margins, Professor X channeled his energies into more traditional activist pursuits, co-founding the Black Muslim group Blackwatch. Amid rumors of an X-Clan reunion, Professor X died of complications from spinal meningitis on March 17, 2006. ~ Jason Ankeny

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