"A master storyteller with a voice reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, the plainspoken delivery of Lou Reed with the lyrical concerns of Ralph Ellison...Brazenly intellectual, unapologetically analytical, Rux weighs his words carefully, sanding them down and splitting them when necessary to make his point. Like Gil-Scott Heron, Rux marries lyric poetry to funk beats. Like PJ Harvey, he erects dramatic psychological tableaux to explore his personal history and identity with a novelist's eye for raw detail...and spins them into rugged funk-rock meditations...Slayer of sacred cows, avoider of easy-ways-out and rider of reality and rhythm, Rux earns your ear." ROLLING STONE
2013 marks the release of Rux’s long-awaited Homeostasis, produced with Hamilton “Fitz” Kirby, and featuring guests like Nona Hendryx, Vijay Iyer, Vernon Reid, Ben Tyree and Dave “Smoota” Smith. As Rux puts it, "Homeostasis is about the change of being; it's about music that references the past while moving forward into the future. It's about nighttime. It's about laughter. It's about love and death. I think it's probably the most ambitious project I've ever made, because I'm using my voice in a different way. It's this notion of change, or movement, of evoking something deeply and profoundly spiritual without being profoundly religious, but at the same time accessing something very human and urban in a spiritual kind of way. I'm collaborating with a lot of musicians - jazz musicians and contemporary DJs. This is the record I've been wanting to make for a long time."
Homeostasis is the latest chapter in the creative output of a unique and compelling artist.
Incorporating jazz, gospel and hip-hop into a poetic vocal style that is often half spoken, half sung, Rux's debut CD Rux Revue was described by People Magazine as "merging poetry, hip hop and ambient beats with old time R&B [into a] hypnotic, intense and thought-provoking debut." Recorded and produced in Los Angeles by the Dust Brothers, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, Rux Revue, featured a cast of all-star musicians, was met with critical acclaim, and was voted one of the top ten alternative music CDs of 1998 (New York Times). His sophomore CD, Apothecary Rx was released on Giant Step Records in 2002 to similar plaudits from publications ranging from the NY Post and the LA Times to Paste and Ink 19. Apothecary Rx was co-produced by Rux and Stewart Lerman, with Rob Hyman (of The Hooters), and featured rock musician Vernon Reid, experimental jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins and Brazilian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Vinicius Cantuaria. Apothecary Rx was listed in Philippe Robert’s “Great Black Music: Un Parcours en 100 Albums Essentiels” as one of the greatest black music albums of all time, along with records by Billie Holiday, Howlin’ Wolf, Max Roach, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, John Coltrane and Nina Simone. His third release, Good Bread Alley on Thirsty Ear Records, was co-produced by the artist with label owner Peter Gordon.
Rux has written and recorded with UK electronic composer and DJ David Holmes, and with Portishead producer Geoff Barrow, creating songs for Stephanie McKay's debut CD, McKay, as well as with DJ Spooky, Yukihiro Fukutomi, John Brown and others.
With his powerful band, Rux has brought down the house at festivals ranging from Transmusicales in Rennes, France and Central Park Summerstage to the Calgary Folk Festival and the MIMI Festival in Marseille, as well as at venues from the Jazz Café in London to the Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. Rux is a winner of numerous awards, including the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. He's written for and performed with dance companies including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
“There are two ways to listen to Carl Hancock Rux. With your headphones on, his lyrics – half-sung, half-spoken word reimaginings of what blackness means – dazzle with their originality, insight, humor, and energy. Booming from your stereo speakers, however, the full scope of Rux’s achievement can be measured.” THE NEW YORKER
“If Jim Morrison and Gil-Scott Heron were able to have a son, his name would be Carl Hancock Rux. Part preacherman, part poet, Rux infuses his lyrics–delivered in spoken word format–with offbeat statements and a psychedelic sound ; an experimental mix of rock, drum n’ bass, soul music, hip-hop, freestyle jazz and funk…” TIME OUT NEW YORK
Though his baritone bends like a willow switch, he remains a verbal artist, one whose voice sometimes reverberates…Rux is coming from a place way beyond anger or regret and from a whole museum full of pop culture’s black stereotypes.” SPIN
In addition to his musical life, Rux is also an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist. He is the former head of the MFA Writing for Performance Program at the California Institute of the Arts (2006–09) and has taught or been in residence at the University of California–San Diego, Stanford University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hollins University, the University of Iowa and Brown University.
Rux is the author of the novel, Asphalt, the OBIE Award winning play, Talk, and the Village Voice Literary prize-winning collection of poetry, Pagan Operetta.
Rux has also worked as a writer and frequent guest performer in dance, collaborating with Marlies Yearby's Movin' Spirits Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women, Jane Comfort & Co., Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Clark. Rux received a BESSIE© award for his direction of the Lisa Jones/Alva Rogers dance musical, Stained. Rux originated the title role in the folk opera production of The Temptation of St. Anthony, directed by Robert Wilson with book, libretto and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon as part of the RuhrTriennale festival in Duisburg, Germany. The opera made its American premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music/ BAM Next Wave Festival in October 2004 and official world premiere at the Paris Opera, Garnier.
His film credits include The Grand Inquisitor (as The One) directed by Tony Torn, Brooklyn Boheme (documentary) and Migrations directed by Nelson George; The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: a film About Gil Scott-Heron (documentary) among others.
Rux is the subject of the Voices of America television documentary, Carl Hancock Rux, Coming of Age, recipient of the CINE Golden Eagle Award (Larry Clamage/Richard Maniscalo producers). He was host and programming director of the WBAI radio show, Live from The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, contributing correspondent for XM radio's The Bob Edwards Show and frequent guest host on WNYC's Soundcheck. Rux co-wrote and narrated the radio documentary, Walt Whitman; Songs of Myself, awarded the New York Press Club Journalism Award for Entertainment News.
In 2007 Rux joined forces with composer Deirdre Murray to reimagine the curious life of Angelo Soliman (1721-1797). “The Blackamoor Angel'' was performed as part of Bard Summerscape at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
To mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11, WNYC’s the Greene Space commissioned Rux to create and perform a spoken word piece meant to be a mosaic of remembrance of this historical event. Titled: A City Reimagined: Voices of 9/11 in Poetry and Performance, the piece was presented in partnership with The New Press and the Columbia Center for Oral History live in the Greene Space on September 7 & 8, 2011. It was Rux’s return to the Greene Space after a memorable appearance in A Global Piano and Literary Salon: Bebop Spoken Here on May 12, 2011 where he had entranced the audience with an impromptu recitation accompanied by jazz pianist, Gerald Clayton.
Mr. Rux is the curator of the WeDaPeoples Cabaret originally conceived by Sekou Sundiata and presented each September by Harlem Stage. He is the recipient of several awards including the Herb Alpert Prize, NYFA Prize, NYFA Gregory Millard Fellow, and NEA/TCG Artist-in-Residency Fellow. He is currently working on his new novel and awaiting the premiere of his opera, Makandal, at Harlem Stage in November, 2013.