To the East, Blackwards

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To The East, Blackwards
Studio album by X Clan
Released April 24, 1990
Recorded I.N.S. Recording Studios, New York City
Genre Hip hop
Length 45:49
Label 4th & B'way, Island
Producer X Clan
X Clan chronology
To The East, Blackwards
(1990)
Xodus
(1992)

To The East, Blackwards is the debut studio album by American hip hop group X Clan, released on April 19, 1990,[1] by 4th & B'way Records and Island Records.[2] It was produced entirely by the group and recorded at I.N.S. Recording Studios in New York City.[1]

To the East, Blackwards charted at number 97 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums. "Raise the Flag", the album's lead single,[2] peaked at number 12 on the Hot Rap Singles.[3]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album's production is characterized by witty scratching and funk beats,[4] including samples of music by Parliament-Funkadelic, Zapp, and Roy Ayers.[5] The group comprises producers Grand Architect Paradise and The Rhythem Provider Sugar Shaft,[6] lead MC Brother J, and Professor X the Overseer, who punctuates Brother J's raps with certain keywords and phrases.[2]

The group's lyrics heavily promote Afrocentrism, railing against racism and socioeconomic oppression of African-Americans,[7] and feature references to African-American revolutionaries and Egyptian places and deities. Music journalist Jon Pareles writes that "they want to shift the cultural credit back to Africa, instilling pride in a younger black generation and revising the historical record (itself a matter of heated debate)".[8]

Critical reception[edit]

In a contemporary review, Down Beat gave the album five stars and wrote that X Clan "offer food for thought with a backbeat ... Their mission is to educate, using hip-hop as the medium. And it's funky, too".[5] Jon Pareles of The New York Times called it "incantations for the converted ... rapped in the artificial-sounding tones of radio disk jockeys."[8] In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album a "C" and facetiously cited its "hallmarks" as "obscure Egyptological insults and flowing funk beats." He viewed it as a product of the rise in "message rap" at the time and stated, "prophets and demagogues of every description join the myriad of hip hop wannabees, enabling lugs like these avowedly non-'humanist' Brooklynites to make their subcultural dent."[4]

In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source '​s 100 Best Rap Albums.[9] In a retrospective review, Allmusic's Andy Kellman gave the album four-and-a-half out of five stars and cited it as one of the best hip hop albums of 1990. Kellman observed "an infectious vigor with the way each track is fired off" and stated, "X Clan relentlessly pushes its pro-black motives and beliefs, and though the points are vague at times, at no point does it ever grow tiring."[10] John Book of RapReviews gave it a "9 of 10" rating and felt that, although the beats were "just revisions of the well worn and proven", the album was about "how Brother J and Professor X presented themselves over those beats, it had the feeling of a live show or even a rough demo."[2]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Songwriters Producer(s) Performer (s)
1 "Funkin' Lesson" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
2 "Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It?" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J
3 "Tribal Jam" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
4 "A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
5 "Verbal Milk" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
6 "Earth-Bound" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
7 "Shaft's Big Score" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan
8 "Raise the Flag" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
9 "Heed the Word of the Brother" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
10 "Verbs of Power" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X
11 "In the Ways of the Scales" J. Hunter, L. Carson, A. Hardin, C. Gray X Clan Brother J, Professor X

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[6]

X Clan
Technical credits
  • George DuBose – photography
  • Hugh Aladdin Ffrench – engineer
  • Mitchell Hartman – artwork
  • Kevin A. McDonagh – design
  • Herb Powers – mastering

Charts[edit]

Chart (1990)[3] Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Top Pop Albums 97
U.S. Billboard Top Black Albums[3] 11

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "X Clan - To the East, Blackwards CD Album". CD Universe. Muze. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Book, John (January 30, 2007). "X Clan :: To the East Blackwards :: 4th & B'Way/Island Records". RapReviews. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "To the East, Blackwards - X Clan : Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (December 4, 1990). "Consumer Guide: Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Review: To the East, Blackwards". Down Beat. September 1990. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b To the East, Blackwards (CD liner notes). X Clan. New York: 4th & B'way Records. 444 019-2. 
  7. ^ Serrano, Shea (July 24, 2008). "X-Clan’s Brother J drops some knowledge on the difference between racism and racial pride". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (December 16, 1990). "'Radical' Rap: Of Pride and Prejudice". The New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 1990. 
  9. ^ "100 Best Rap Albums". The Source (New York) (#100). January, 1998. ISSN 1063-2085. Retrieved November 24, 2007.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Kellman, Andy. "To the East, Blackwards - X Clan". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 15, 2012. 

External links[edit]