Malcolm X was born in Nebraska on 19 May 1925. He was murdered in 1965. In 1983, Keith LeBlanc (Sugarhill Gang, Tackhead, Fats Comet) and Reggie Griffin recorded this song with Marshall Chess producing. In the studio, they cut up parts of X’s speeches with hip hop beats programmed on drum machines from Emu and Oberheim, while layering synth parts played on a Voyetra and a Mini Moog.
The result was a funky, rhythm-driven tribute to the great revolutionary figure. Using the avant-garde cut-up techniques of industrial artists like Cabaret Voltaire, but assuming the stylings of street-savvy hip hop, they restored X’s voice and changed the way that political music was being made.
What followed included a lawsuit, with Tommy Boy and Sugarhill Records arguing over the rights to the track. They settled it by having a dual release. That’s all in the past now; and, on X’s 98th birthday, LeBlanc has reissued “No Sell Out” as part of a compilation, together with the Stop the Confusion album released in 1993 by his own label. LeBlanc was working then with DJ and producer, Tim Simenon, who would tap the legendary drummer on the shoulder to help make Depeche Mode’s Ultra album just a few years later.
It still stands the test of time, and will get you moving…by any means necessary.