In Remembrance of Professor X
By now folks may have heard the news about the sudden passing of Professor X of X-Clan.. I got off the phone with Brother J who was the lead rapper of this legendary group who delivered the sad news. We believe he died from spinal menegitas.. Tonight there will be a special tribute to Professor X on Divine Forces Radio 90.7 KPFK starting at 10pm if you are in Los Angeles. Brother J will be on as well as Paris..
The passing of Professor X is sad indeed.. For those who are unfamiliar with Professor X please read the statement released by Afrika Bambaataa… X was the guy who coined the phrase “Van Glorious This is Protected by the Red, The Black and The Green“…What’s so sad and crazy is that nowadays when you talk about Professor X to today’s younger Hip Hop audience, they immediately think of the guy from the comic X-men..
Professor X aka Lumumba Carson was a good cat..who will be missed…
by Wendy Day
I received an email from Afrika Bambaataa and Yoda today saying that Professor X had passed. I rushed over to allhiphop.com to see what happened to him. They confirmed Lumumba Carson passed from Meningitis. I am devastated.
In 1992, I started Rap Coalition out of pure disgust after seeing how my favorite rappers were treated– specifically, Eric B and Rakim, and X-Clan. In the late 80s and early 90s, these were my favorite rappers.
Lamumba Carson was great because he stood for something. He had something to say and he said it. He was the son of New York based (now deceased) activist Sonny Carson (how difficult it must be to be the son of someone so driven, focused, and important to humanity). Lumumba always rose to the occasion.
I always avoided meeting Professor X and Brother J (who, together, comprised X-Clan and heavily promoted the organization Black Watch), out of fear that they may not be what their image portrayed. At that point, I had met so many of my rap heroes and been disappointed in the past because of the diachotomy between image and reality (a painful lesson for someone devoting a career and life to helping her heroes for free).
I found that J and Lumumba were serious about what they were accomplishing. And while I found Professor X to be human with all the human frailties (thank God!), over the years I have found both of them to be exactly who they portrayed themselves to be–strong Black men, loving and caring for a race of people often too tired to fight for themselves. They were not hypocrites like soooo many others.
Like most rappers, and certainly like the majority of rappers from their generation, they did not make much money from their art form. In fact, they had the further degradation of watching others become wealthy on what they built, and on their art form (a BIG @#%$ you to Lou Maglia and 4th and Broadway).
I just spoke with Lumumba for the first time last year. I had received an email that was making fun of him because he listed himself on eBay, and was auctioning off “a day with Professor X” to the highest bidder. How he must be struggling financially to do something like that, I thought to myself. I became the highest bidder. The fact that I could barely afford to pay my rent at the time did not enter my mind. I was determined to buy a day with Professor X.
He ended the auction before the final deadline (doesn’t matter, I would have won regardless) because of the hateful emails circulating on the web about him putting himself up for auction. I was disgusted by the reaction. It was a f*cking lunch date with Professor X. Had it been Justin Timberlake for a charity, no one would have said @#%$. But a hungry man was not supposed to eat this way, I guess.
Somehow others who have made a career from (read: pimped) Hip Hop had the right to say what was acceptable or not for one of the Legends. All of a sudden, people making money critiquing what others create had the power to say what was the proper way for Professor X to make income. It pissed me off beyond words. I received disrespectful, opinionated emails from self-appointed authorities asking me why I supported such a gimmick. I got emails from fake-ass Hip Hop “journalists” spewing negativity and condescention without having all of the facts. I was disgusted with our community for not supporting Professor X and everyone else like him who needed our support and got jeers instead.
Lumumba called me. He knew who I was. He was excited that I had been bidding on his post. I had the opportunity to tell him what he meant to me. I told him how he influenced me to go down the path I am on without ever having met me. Now THAT’S power. He shared with me some of his industry expereinces and his hopes and dreams.
The price for Lumumba was high on eBay. Not high financially, but high in negative reaction, high in lack of support, and high in the realization that this unforgiving industry has no love for those who have come before when the @#%$ VH-1 cameras aren’t running. I think my last bid was under $100. I would have bid $1,000.
We quietly disrespect our artists for not being Billionaires, and then we disrespect them if we perceive them to “sell out” (read: earn a living). They can’t win. We bemoan artists today for selling misogyny, crime, violence, and materialism, but we didn’t support the ones who had a positive message once they were no longer perceived to be “hot!”
And God forbid they try to earn a buck on eBay selling the opportunity to spend time with them before they pass.
I wanted to spend a day with Lumumba. He would not take my money. We spoke at length about the industry and Afrocentricity. We discussed his father and his legacy. We discussed a lot. It was the first, and last, time we spoke.
I never got my day with Professor X. But what I did get was far more priceless. I got the real Professor X, and he is and was what he always said he was. He was REAL. And he loved people. Especially Black people. He will sorely be missed!
Please understand if the next time you see me I am stomping in my big black boots.