To the concrete, fighting wars in the street
The Day of Outrage, history another page
Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It? by X-Clan

See here for X-Clan’s song-length tribute to the 1989 Day of Outrage march

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Grand Verbalizer, what time is it? Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It? by X-Clan

Brother J explained the history of his “Grand Verbalizer” name in Brian Coleman’s book:

I started using the name Grand Verbalizer way back, after I was out of Brooklyn College Academy…Grand Verbalizer defined MC differently for me. I didn’t want to be MC Brother J — I needed a title that would describe me to the fullest. Grand Verbalizer was like a royal MC

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And the voice to a many going verb to verb
Sit back and take heed, brother you must learn!
Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It? by X-Clan

This “You must learn” — emphasis strongly on the “you” here —was a direct dis to KRS-One, whose Boogie Down Productions had a song with that name. Read about the KRS/X-Clan beef here

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Chilly and Magilla, chocolate and vanilla
How can polar bears swing on vines with the gorillas?
Grand Verbalizer, What Time is It? by X-Clan

These lines, with their referring to whites as “polar bears” who can’t be a part of black means of expression, were disturbing to a young Eminem, as he recounts in a mid-aughts Rolling Stone interview:

I loved the X-Clan’s first album [To the East, Blackwards, 1990]. Brother J was an MC that I was afraid of lyrically. His delivery was so confident. But he also made me feel like an outcast. Callin' us polar bears. Even as militant as Public Enemy were, they never made me feel like, “You’re white, you cannot do this rap, this is our music.” The X-Clan kinda made you feel like that, talking [on “Grand Verbalizer, What Time Is It?”] about “How could polar bears swing on vines of the gorillas?” It was a slap in the face. It was like, you’re loving and supporting the music, you’re buying the artist and supporting the artist, you love it and live it and breathe it, then who’s to say that you can’t do it? If you’re good at it and you wanna do it, then why are you allowed to buy the records but not allowed to do the music? That was the pro-black era — and there was that sense of pride where it was like, if you weren’t black, you shouldn’t listen to hip-hop, you shouldn’t touch the mike

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May 21st, 2013

this is also one of the jabs directed at MC Serch and 3rd bass makes sense Em would feel some type of way about it

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And you persist with legalities
I resist and rebel cause I'm reality
A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

As it turns out, resisting and rebelling was also a good career move for X-Clan. As Professor X remembers it in Coleman’s book:

The day after we took the bridge, there was a picture of us in the paper being part of it, and the head of 4th & Bway [the record label that had signed the group to a single deal, with an option for an album] saw it and signed us for the album right there, because of the picture. They were on the verge of getting rid of us up until then because of low sales on the single

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It's time to make a step, it's time to make a move
Time for the nation, it's time for the groove
A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

This call for a unified, militant black nation also nods to the possible soundtrack of that nation — Funkadelic’s classic album One Nation Under a Groove

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The background then; the pyramids
The background now? The Statue of Liberty
A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

X-Clan, and Professor X in particular, was fascinated with Egyptian history and imagery. X talked about his introduction to Egyptian history in Coleman’s book:

I began [in the mid-80’s] to spend a lot of time in the Egyptian area of [the Metropolitan Museum of Art]. You’d be surprised how much they [presumably whites] stole from Egypt

This essay on black nationalism in rap contains a section on X-Clan, black nationalism, and Egyptian imagery:

X-Clan fused aspects of [Ron] Karenga’s (1980) Kawaida and aspects of revolutionary Black nationalism. X-Clan grounded their Black nationalism in Black culture and in protest that was present day and not simply hearkening back to dead heroes. The overtly Kemetic (Egyptian) imagery and philosophy were much more studied and apparent in X-Clan was forthright in their Black nationalism.

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And while I'm booming this, I'm not a humanist
I'm just a pro-black nigga and I'm doing this
A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

These lines were a dig at KRS-One, who was a “self-proclaimed humanist”. KRS and X-Clan had many clashes over their conflicting approaches — X-Clan’s black nationalism vs. KRS' more inclusive humanism. Brother J remembered the beef in Brian Coleman’s book Check the Technique:

My thing to him [KRS] was that I was a pit bull for black nationalsim, and when I saw that he was trying to be a humanist and have everyone hold hands and build, I wasn’t with it. It was like: “I can be friends with you all day, but before we’re going to build organizations together, let me get my people together first, so we can come as a focused weapon.” The beef with KRS got so high that it never became an intelligent conversation back then. It took sixteen years for me to sit down with him and explain

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You DICK, with a nightSTICK
Here's a Nat Turner LICK
A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

X hopes that the modern-day police force receive the same violent retribution meted out by Nat Turner and his conspirators. Turner was a slave who led a violent slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831 that resulted in 60 white deaths, though over 100 blacks were killed as well. Turner’s rebellion was the largest and most violent uprising of the pre-Civil War era

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Yusef, to the crossroad A Day of Outrage, Operation Snatchback by X-Clan

Twenty years after the murder of Yusef Hawkins, who was killed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn by a mob of white youths, the NYT ran a retrospective piece on the murder and the surrounding events. See it here

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