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The Last Poets

The Last Poets

Lastpoets

Today, The Last Poets are hailed as the fathers of rap.

“A word hasn’t been coined to fit what we’re talking about,” The Last Poets told Rolling Stone in 1970. Today, The Last Poets are hailed as the fathers of rap.

Hip-hop history officially started in Harlem on May 16th, 1969 (Malcolm X’s…

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“A word hasn’t been coined to fit what we’re talking about,” The Last Poets told Rolling Stone in 1970. Today, The Last Poets are hailed as the fathers of rap.

Hip-hop history officially started in Harlem on May 16th, 1969 (Malcolm X’s birthday). Imprisoned after refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, Jalal Mansur Nuriddin began to blend spoken-word verse with street-corner beats, and befriended fellow inmates Omar Ben Hassen and Abiodun Oyewole. Upon their release, Hassen, Oyewole, and Nurridin (a.k.a. Alafia Pudim, a.k.a. Lightnin’ Rod), named their trio The Last Poets, after the work of a South African writer who predicted violence would destroy the current, last generation of poets. The group was soon electrifying audiences at both the Apollo Theater and on local television.

The Last Poets caught the attention of producer Alan Douglas, known for his landmark sessions for Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus, and Eric Dolphy. The group debuted in 1970 with the album The Last Poets, considered the first hip-hop album of all time, and followed with 1971’s This Is Madness, which landed them on President Nixon’s Counter-Intelligence Programming list. Both discs scored high on the album and R&B charts, thanks to their arresting fusion of politically outspoken lyrics and inventive percussion. Listen to these records today, as reissued by Light in the Attic & Vampi Soul, and hear why Chuck D says, “The Last Poets are the birthplace of rap.”

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