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Maxwell – Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996)

July 1, 2020

Learning to be anti-racist

“We can change this. We can change the action, which changes the story, which changes the system.” – Baratunde Rafiq Thurston

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist from the 1001 list.


So far, I’ve looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today, The Crusaders’ Street Life, Cypress Hill’s Cypress Hill, and Cee-Lo Green’s Cee-Lo Green…Is the Soul Machine. 

This week, the debut album by Maxwell, Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (1996).


[Album 783/1001]

The name ‘Maxwell’ and the year 1996.

At the time, for me that meant one thing: my go-to brand of cassettes, ideal for making mix-tapes!

As an avid mix-tape compiler, I was often faced with a tricky decision – do I go with the 60-minute or the 90-minute tape?

Do you cut out anything that could potentially be deemed unnecessary, trimming all but the essential to fit within the hour limit?

Or do you let it sprawl to the roomier hour and a half running time?

Decisions, decisions.




Fast-forward (pun initially unintended, but then once noticed, kept intentionally) 24 years, I was delighted to find that I still have a couple of blank Maxwell tapes.

And as someone who likes the idea of listening to something in the appropriate context (e.g. listening to Solsbury Hill while actually climbing up on Solsbury Hill), I thought it would be fun to listen to Maxwell’s album on a Maxwell cassette.220px-Muhspic

However, the album running time is listed as 64:47 – if I wanted the whole album, can it be trimmed to fit the 60-minute cassette length?

Some of the standout tracks, such as Sumthin’ Sumthin’ and …Til the Cops Come Knockin‘, would work really well in the mix-tape format. So I suppose one ‘could’ trim to 60, as the singles do work as stand-alones.

But then again, the album flows so effectively as a whole, it would be a shame to disrupt the running order. So even though one ‘could’ trim, that doesn’t mean you ‘should’ trim.

Therefore with Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite, it’s an easy call: if you’ve got the budget for an obsolete 90-minute storage medium, it’s well worth it here!


Helpful Resources

I’ve become hooked on the Ted Talk format.

And my favourite talk that I’ve seen so far is likely this one delivered by Baratunde Rafiq Thurston.

From → 1990s

  1. “For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.”

    Same here. Additional perspective, as someone who was bullied as a kid, I have always identified with those who I have perceived to be bullied or picked on. I didn’t see a lot of racism until I got online, and then it made me furious. I saw it on the heavy metal comment boards in a post-911 world and it made me enraged. I probably don’t have the best tools to be effectively anti-racist yet. Name calling and so on doesn’t help. However I think this here is a good start. Just talking to listening to people.

    • That’s encouraging Mike, that you’ve been turning such negative experiences from childhood into a position of advocacy for others.
      I definitely don’t have all the tools yet either but from the advice I’ve been reading, the message has been consistent: we need to listen & learn, keep having difficult conversations

  2. Great read Geoff. You’re a great communicator with these posts. Keep them coming.

  3. Facebook is full of people that don’t think they are racist, but reading their comments and seeing what they post, they are so racist. It is sad. Glad you are out there to make a positive change! Now, the music…Maxwell is pretty good. Not a huge fan personally, but he has some serious talent.

    • My thanks, John. So far this is the only Maxwell I’ve heard – I’m not sure how much deeper in the catalogue I’ll explore but I agree, he’s talented!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shaka Zulu (1987) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. Muddy Waters – Hard Again (1977) | 1001albumsin10years
  3. Fela Ransome-Kuti and The Africa ’70 with Ginger Baker – Live! (1971) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. Femi Kuti – Femi Kuti (1995) | 1001albumsin10years
  5. Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information (1974) | 1001albumsin10years
  6. Gang Starr – Step in the Arena (1991) | 1001albumsin10years
  7. Jurassic 5 – Power in Numbers (2002) | 1001albumsin10years
  8. 1996 | 1001albumsin10years

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