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The Last Poets

With their politically charged raps, taut rhythms, and dedication to raising African-American consciousness, the Last Poets almost single-handedly laid the groundwork for the emergence of hip-hop. The group arose out of the prison experiences of Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, a U.S. Army paratrooper who chose jail as an alternative to fighting in Vietnam; while incarcerated, he converted to Islam, learned to "spiel" (an early form of rapping), and befriended fellow inmates Omar Ben Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole.

Upon the trio's release from prison, they returned to the impoverished ghettos of Harlem, where they joined the East Wind poetry workshop and began performing their fusion of spiels and musical backing on neighborhood street corners. On May 16, 1969 -- Malcolm X's birthday -- they officially formed the Last Poets, adopting the name from the work of South African Little Willie Copaseely, who declared the era to be the last age of poets before the complete takeover of guns. After a performance on a local television program, the group was signed by jazz producer Alan Douglas, who helmed their eye-opening eponymous debut LP in 1970. A collection condemning both white oppression ("White Man's Got a God Complex") and black stasis ("N**gas Are Scared of Revolution"), The Last Poets reached the U.S. Top Ten album charts, but before the group could mount a tour, Oyewole was sentenced to 14 years in prison after being found guilty of robbery and was replaced by percussionist Nilaja.

After the 1971 follow-up This Is Madness (which landed them on President Richard Nixon's Counter-Intelligence Programming lists), Hassan joined a Southern-based religious sect; Jalal recruited former jazz drummer Suliaman El Hadi for 1972's Chastisement, which incorporated jazz-funk structures to create a sound the group dubbed "jazzoetry." Following the 1973 Jalal solo concept album Hustler's Convention (recorded under the alias Lightnin' Rod), the Last Poets issued 1974's At Last, a foray into free-form jazz; after its release, Nilaja exited, and with the exception of 1977's Delights of the Garden, the group kept a conspicuously low profile for the remainder of the decade.

By the 1980s, however, the proliferation of rap -- and the form's acknowledged debt to the Last Poets -- made their early records sought-after collectors' items; finally, in 1984 the group resurfaced with the LP Oh, My People, followed in 1988 by Freedom Express. Another layoff ensued, during which time Hassan issued a solo LP, 1993's Be Bop or Be Dead, and Jalal mentored the British acid jazz unit Galliano. In 1995, two splinter groups simultaneously reclaimed the Last Poets name; while Jalal and El Hadi teamed for the single "Scatterrap," Hassan and Oyewole issued the LP Holy Terror. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Comments

jtny786
When the Revolution Comes! How many times did we listen to THIS jam when I was in college...
jtny786
And curtis and donnie even johnny guitar watson!
jtny786
I miss Jimi and and Malcolm and Marley and Gil Scott-Heron. What happened to the truth tellers for the people? I go into the neighborhood places now and all I hear about is b***ches, hos, and killas. Ugh.
jtny786
I miss the Last Poets.
keithyboots
The message needs to be heard again. Azeezuddin in york
The Last Poets are prophets. Speaking truth to a world beholden to the worship of status and celebrity. The words penetrate the mind and leave deep impressions on the soul.
Instead of selling Dope = Satan
Give the people HOPE = JESUS. 14Y 1M
what happen
The truth is timeless
mdaviss101
The last Poets are Beyonder and Blessed power. From ReddClay
xlilcriscox
Power to the people!
I became aware of the last poets while overseas during 1969 and 1970. Little was known of them at the time.
ericvouse
where did our progress go we should have gone forward from here......
MASTER; RASAAN- BAILEY EL
MOORISH SCIENCE TEMPLE OF AMERICA
THE LAST POETS ARE TRULY MESSENGERS. HOWEVER, THEY ARE MISSING ONE VITAL COMPONENT. IT IS THAT OF NATIONALITY. WHEN WE CALL OURSELVES BLACK, NEGRO COLORED, AFRICAN-AMER I C A N ETC. WE ARE ONLY LABELING OURSELVES. ATTACH YOURSELVES TO THE FAMILY OF NATIONS AND CLAIM YOUR NATIONNALITY . WE HAVE MEXICAN-CHIN E E S E - I T A L I A N - F R E N C H - G E R M A N etc. -AMERICAN. THEY ALL COME FROM A LAND AND ARE ATTACHED TO NATION OF PEOPLE. black man what is your nationality? B/C AFRICAN AMERICAN IS NOT ONE.

MASTER-RASAA N ; BAILE
Loves these dudes.... I recited one of their tracks in college Cal State Long Beach on stage and freaked eery body OUT... The track was called Black People What Yall Gone Do
Wonderful.
word
malcolm's d.o.b. is on 5/19. This is seminal works responsible for the intro of Rap and Hip Hop in our stratosphere . Listen closely and learn the history of oppression which is part and parcel of the American Black man's experience on these shores. Enjoy the music, but memorize the lyrics as they stay with you and enhance your musical pleasure. God bless us all.
There seems ot be a lot of important albums that Pandora does not have.
This is truly spoken word...when rap music had something to say
onelovemiles
Malcolm's Birthday is actually May 19.
The Last Poets' station is the only reason why I use Pandora, amazing artist.
Inspiration,
glad to see last poets. thanks pandora. great work
I love you guys!
You all should check out Boscoe. A 70's group on the South Side of Chicago. Very deep brothers that definitely fit the very same mold of Last Poets but with the musical capabilities of Earth Wind & Fire. I believe there album can be found on Amazon.com
keith_muhamm a d
The Last Poets is a generation of story telling we will forever enjoy and be grateful for the presence. Peace and Blessings
people need to recognize they had prophetic word for the streets
Blessed. This is where it all began....yes indeed! Peace.

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