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Carl Hancock Rux | Features

Artist Of The Month


Apothecary Rx

Carl Hancock RuxIn contemporary hip-hop and R&B music, artists such as Cody ChestnuTT, India.Arie and The Roots have been dubbed as innovators who incorporate Black music styles into contemporary formats; artists who stand apart from the mainstream and deliver an original voice. Throughout his career, multi-disciplinary artist Carl Hancock Rux has also borrowed from various traditions in order to offer heartfelt and innovative art, tapping deep into his soul and psyche to bring forth works of art and beauty that are universal in their scope and startling in their intensity and originality.

Apothecary Rx is the sophomore CD from Rux, and his full-length debut on leading NYC independent label Giant Step Records. Filled with vision, beats, majesty and memories, the CD encompasses everything from gospel to hip hop, rock to jazz and, as a result, sums up the breadth of Carlís sonic inspirations and possibilities. Featuring contributions from an array of artists - among them Brazilian composer Vinicius Cantuaria; avant-garde jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins; keyboardist/songwriter Rob Hyman (The Hooters, Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time"); Chocolate Genius, and Carlís co-producer Stewart Lerman (Dar Williams, Black 47, Jules Shear, Loudon Wainright III) - Apothecary Rx is a singular experience.

Carl says, "I wanted to make music that reflected my eclectic musical tastes: soul, gospel, blues, rock, hip-hop etc. I wanted to write songs inspired by everyone from Serge Gainsbourg to Coldplay, King Pleasure to 50 Cent, Bill Withers to Arvo P?rt. I wanted the record to be textured, with live instrumentation as well as samples and digital sounds. This album is eclectic because Black music has always been eclectic, has always pushed the envelope of invention, borrowing from everything organic and traditional in the Black experience as well as responding to the multi-cultural experience of living in America. It is a handprint of everything from the storefront Harlem churches around the corner from where I was born, to the South Bronx hip-hop world I grew up in, to my travels as an artist in search of myself throughout Europe, Scandinavia, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. It's like going into a drug store with a million herbs and remedies and potions lining glass shelves--taking from it the ingredients that heal you and restore you to yourself." With Apothercary Rx, Carl takes his inspirations to "a notha level" and in the process inspires us to dream outside the lines. As Carl sees it, the album is about "admitting the state of the soul, requesting some assistance and moving on."

Carl Hancock RuxThat sense of transition leading to completion helped fuel songs such as the insistent, pre-Sept. 11th penned "Eleven More Days," a funky Sly & The Family Stone-like rant that Rux describes as being about "the intangible sense of despair and the need to break free from a continuum of tragedy." "Eleven more days in the city, eleven more miles to roam, eleven more prayers of pity, eleven more stops to home." The notion of home, literal and beyond, flavors "Ground," anchored by sinewy rhythms and bluesy vocals provided by new recording artist Stephanie McKay (Go Beat). Lifeís more ephemeral states of being and (un)consciousness make their presence felt in the fever dream that is "Protean Character," a mournful blue light basement doo-wop with horns and dreamy soprano back-up vocals, co-written with friend and neighbor Mark Anthony Thompson a/k/a Chocolate Genius. The haunting song is an admission we may all relate to: "I bleed inside/ I feel inside this spirit of dissension, rides in easy--not loud...I'm a protean character like the ones who live in fantasy." On "Lamentations" (previously released by Giant Step Records on 12 inch as a dance single produced by Ron Trent) Rux remixes the track, blending four- string bluegrass guitar licks with dance beats and Cuban style congas, to play along with his manic preacher vocals. As co-producer of Apothecary, Rux gives us original classical compositions (for cello and viola on the Arvo Part inspired Fanon), combines Tibetan prayer chants with New Orleans style funereal marching drum beats (Trouble), and layers sitar and electronic keyboard samples over 5th Dimension-like backing vocals (Apothecary Song). The result is a record that fits in with artists ranging on pretty wide ground, from Mos Def to Zero 7, Jill Scott to Radiohead, and Cinematic Orchestra to Common. Lofty concepts perhaps, but ones that are transmitted with a soulfulness and substance that is hard to resist or ignore.

Carl Hancock RuxBeyond his songwriting and co-producing, Carl is also a great singer. "It was important to me to explore the many different sides of myself and my voice, the result of having sung spirituals with The Harlem Boys Choir, gospel with Hezekiah Walker's Love Fellowship Choir and years spent at places like The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. I had no desire to record a spoken word CD, but rather a CD of songs, however alternative the structures might be." Those who have seen Carl perform live are well aware of his power as a vocalist, and his abilitiy to deliver a song. "Rux himself is a Sunday-morning preacher conjuring Saturday night's fever, a Pentecostal dadaist who works songs to spasm and collapse...Rux comes from the tradition of African American crooners like Al and Aretha, who sandblast the line between sexual and religious ecstasy." (Village Voice).

Carl Hancock Rux was born, raised and still lives in New York City. His first (unreleased) record, produced by Nona Hendryx, brought him to the attention of Epic/Sony. Rux Revue, his Epic/Sony album was produced by The Dust Brothers and Tom Rothrock/Rob Schnapf (Beck, The Beastie Boys), and was named one of the top ten alternative music CDs of 1999 by the New York Times. Carl is an award winning poet (Pagan Operetta won the Village Voice Literary Prize 1999), novelist (Asphalt is due out in 2004 on Simon & Schuster), playwright (the 2002 Obie winner "Talk"), and essayist. In addition to his headlining projects - which currently include a starring role in the forthcoming Robert Wilson/Bernice Johnson Reagon theatrical work "Temptation of St Anthony" - Carl has appeared on and written songs for albums by David Holmes, DJ Spooky & Matthew Shipp, Reg E. Gaines, Yoshihiro Fukotomi and Stephanie McKay.

Good Bread Alley
Carl Hancock Rux - Good Bread Alley Track Listing:
1. Good Bread Alley
2. My Brothers Hands
3. Thadius Star
4. Behind The Curtain
5. Lies
6. Geneva
7. Black Of My Shadow
8. All The Rock Stars (For Kurt Cobain)
9. Living Room
10. I Can't Write Left Handed
11. Better Left Unsaid
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Apothecary Rx
Carl Hancock Rux - Apothecary Rx Track Listing:
1. I Got A Name
2. Me
3. Ground
4. Eleven More Days
5. Disrupted Dreams
6. Protean Character
7. Shadow Interlude
8. Fanon
9. Lamentations
10. Trouble Of This World
11. Apothecary Song
12. RX Suite: Movement 1
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Rux Revue
Carl Hancock Rux - Rux Revue Track Listing:
1. Intro To (R)Evolution
2. Asphalt Yards
3. Gut Bucket Blues
4. Languid Liberetto (I Can't Love You Better)
5. Miguel
6. Wasted Seed 7. Fall Down
8. Elmina Blues Opus
9. My Coon Gal
10. No Black Male Show
11. Blue Candy
12. I Recall (There I Am)
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Pagan Operetta, The official Carl Hancock Rux website.
Thirsty Ear, Carl Hancock Rux's record company
Carl Hancock Rux's yahoo group