Terminator X

By: Tom Nealon
August 25, 2015

Terminator X — center
Terminator X — center

For a DJ so utterly lacking in subtlety, Terminator X (Norman Rogers, born 1966) did a remarkable job of sliding into the background behind the baritone politics of Chuck D and the spirited madness of Flavor Flav in Public Enemy. Aggressively old-school before there was an old school, X made the end-times politics and posturing of PE go down easy. If you can’t dance at the end of the world, when are you gonna dance? Though so often thought of third or even fourth (after Professor Griff and the S1W) by hip hop dilettantes, all it takes is a cursory listen to his 1991 debut album Terminator X & The Valley of the Jeep Beets to realize how X occupied the very center of the PE sound. Channeling James Brown and Albert King with a little Flash Gordon and industrial noise for good measure, X’s beats lit up the late ’80s with a fire that was all too genuine. As hip hop gained in popularity and the music industry showed up in NYC with their chests of gold, X became disaffected and gave up music, as so many did, to raise ostriches. If some of his later pronouncements about the sorry and disastrous state of rap music had a little “hey kids, get off my lawn” in them, he can be forgiven — since it was his lawn, after all.

HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc | Gil Scott-Heron | Slick Rick | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels | Afrika Bambaataa | Biz Markie | U-God | Slug | Adam Yauch | Ghostface Killah | DJ Run | Flavor Flav | Scott La Rock | GZA | Schoolly D | Aesop Rock | Terminator X | Notorious B.I.G. | Melle Mel | Doug E. Fresh | Kool Keith | Rick Rubin | Rakim | Ol’ Dirty Bastard | Madlib | Talib Kweli | Danger Mouse | Kool Moe Dee | Chuck D | Dizzee Rascal | RZA | Cee-Lo Green | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Walt Kelly, Martin Amis.

READ MORE about members of the Reconstructionist Generation (1964–1973).