The Last Poets-JAZZOETRY & MADE IN AMERIKKKA
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THE LAST POETS
WORD 2 THA STREET WISEPART OF RBG Raptivist, Revolutionary Poets, Playwrights and Writers Studies Collection
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THE LAST POETS
Harlem, New York City, New York, United States (1968 present)The Last Poets are a spoken word/poetry group which formed in 1968 in Harlem, New York City, New York, United States. The Last Poets is a group of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s Africans in American civil rights and human rights movements black nationalist thread. Their name is taken from a poem by the South Afrikan revolutionary poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over. The original Last Poets formed on May 19, 1968 (Malcolm Xs birthday), at Marcus Garvey Park (formerly Mount Morris Park, at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue) in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The original members were Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson. The group continued to evolve via a 1969 Harlem writers workshop known as East Wind. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole, along with percussionist Nilaja, are generally considered the primary and core members of the group, as they appeared on the groups 1970 self-titled debut (contracted by noted Jimi Hendrix producer Alan Douglas) and, in various combinations, on subsequent releases. Other early East Wind alumni, however Luciano, Kain, and Nelson recorded separately as The Original Last Poets, gaining some renown as the soundtrack artists for the 1971 film Right On!.
THE LAST POETS
HistoryThe original Last Poets were formed on May 19, 1968 (Malcolm X's birthday), at Marcus Garvey Park in East Harlem. The group continued to evolve via a 1969 Harlem writers' workshop known as East Wind. Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole, along with percussionist Nilaja Obabi, are generally considered the primary and core members of the group, as it appeared on the group's 1970 self-titled debut LP and, in various combinations, on subsequent releases. Luciano, Kain, and Nelson recorded separately as The Original Last Poets, gaining some renown as the soundtrack artists of the 1971 film Right On! (See also Performance (1970 film) soundtrack song "Wake Up, Niggers".) Having reached US Top 10 chart success with its debut album, the Last Poets went on to release the follow-up, This Is Madness, without then-incarcerated Abiodun Oyewole. The album featured more politically charged poetry that resulted in the group being listed under the counterintelligence program COINTELPRO during the Richard Nixon administration. Hassan left the group following This Is Madness to be replaced by Suliaman El-Hadi (now deceased) in time for Chastisment (1972). The album introduced a sound the group called "jazzoetry", leaving behind the spare percussion of the previous albums in favor of a blending of jazz and funk instrumentation with poetry. The music further developed into free-jazzpoetry with Hassan's brief return on 1974's At Last, as yet the only Last Poets release still unavailable on CD.
THE LAST POETS
The remainder of the 1970s saw a slight decline in the group's popularity. In the 1980s and beyond, however, the group gained renown with the rise of hip-hop music, often being namechecked as grandfathers and founders of the new movement, and themselves collaborating with Bristol-based British post-punk band the Pop Group, among others. Nuriddin and El-Hadi worked on several projects under the Last Poets name, working with bassist and producer Bill Laswell, including 1984's Oh My People and 1988's Freedom Express, and recording the final El Hadi-Nuriddin collaboration Scatterrap/Home in 1994. Suliaman El-Hadi died in October 1995. Oyewole and Hassan began recording separately under the same name, releasing Holy Terror in 1995 (re-released on Innerhythmic in 2004) and Time Has Come in 1997. Their lyrics often dealt with social issues facing African-American people. In the song "Rain of Terror", the group criticized the American government and voiced support for the Black Panthers. More recently, the Last Poets found fame again refreshed through a collaboration where the trio (Umar Bin Hassan) was featured with hip-hop artist Common on the Kanye West-produced song "The Corner," as well as (Abiodun Oyewole) with the Wu-Tang Clan-affiliated political hip-hop group Black Market Militia on the song "The Final Call," stretching overseas to the UK on songs "Organic Liquorice (Natural Woman)", "Voodoocore", and "A Name" with Shaka Amazulu the 7th. The group is also featured on the Nas album Untitled, on the songs "You Can't Stop Us Now" and "Project Roach." Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, aka Lightning Rod (The Hustlers Convention 1973), recently collaborated with the UK-based poet Mark T. Watson (aka Malik Al Nasir) writing the foreword to Watson's debut poetry collection, Ordinary Guy, published in December 2004 by the Liverpool-based publisher Fore-Word Press. Jalal's foreword was written in rhyme, and was recorded for release in 2008 in a collaborative album by Mark T. Watson's band, Malik & The OG's, featuring Gil Scott-Heron, percussionist Larry McDonald, drummers Rod Youngs and Swiss Chris, New York dub poet Ras Tesfa, and a host of young rappers from New York and Washington, D.C. Produced by Malik Al Nasir, Lloyd Masset, Larry McDonald, and Swiss Chris, the albums Rhythms of the Diaspora; Vol. 1 & 2 are the first of their kind to unite these pioneers of poetry and hip hop with each other. In 2010, Abiodun Oyowele was among the artists featured on the Welfare Poets' produced Cruel And Unusual Punishment, a CD compilation that was made in protest of the death penalty, which also featured some several current
THE LAST POETS
Kain - The Blue Guerrilla
This solo album by Gylan Kain, one of the original Last Poets -- before the group recorded for Douglas Records -- is a study in angry poetics, performance art, and killer presentation. Recorded and issued in the early '70s, The Blue Guerrilla is a freestyle set before such a thing was even a dream. Kain's one pissed-off cat, raging not only against the usual necessary concerns, but also against the stereotypes in his own community. Free jazz-funk grooves on guitars, electric violins, a slew of drums, and ghostly keyboards accompany his gorgeous and disturbing ranting that is far from pointless. From the opening ritual scarification of "I Ain't Black," with it's free jazz approach and over-the-top screaming, to the poignant indictment of "Harlem Preacher," to "Black Satin Amazon" and "Constipated Monkey," Kain is a hipster without a country, a street poet without an audience, an activist without sympathy. And rather than succumb and stylize his thang to get his message across, he becomes angrier, slyer, slicker, less forgiving, and more insightful. Music is placed here not as accompaniment, but as a framework for Kain to place his poetry in a context of the
THE LAST POETS
African-American oral tradition and the Living Theatre. And he gives no quarter. This man makes the Last Poets he left behind sound like schoolboys trying to sound pissed off. Kain would make Gil Scott-Heron run away for fear of being exposed as the effete he became before he turned into an out-and-out drug addict. There aren't any other records like this; this is the sound of the apocalypse, one that Amiri Baraka predicted and celebrated. Come to The System of Dante's Hell as narrated by Kain. Sit down, listen all the way though if you can; wake up. There's a riot goin' on.
Review from Allmusic Guide by Thom JurekSource: http://ajbenjamin2beta.blogspot.com/2008/10/kain-blue-guerrilla.html The album, to say the least, is an intense listening experience performed by a cat who must be one intense individual. Jurek does a decent job of capturing the essence of Kain's one solo album. The music and words fit in with what his former Last Poets crew were doing at the time, although with more attention paid to musical arrangements - ranging from free jazz on the opening tracks to a cooler West Coast feel for much of the remaining album (though cooler here is only a relative term - the music has an edge to it). To me the highlight of the album is the final track, "Look Out for the Blue Guerrilla." The tune starts out with a basic keyboard-bass-drum backing that has that hazy weed-smoke-filled room vibe to it as Kain drops these philosophical rhymes that build in intensity and religious imagery, with a travel-logue that sounds like Kain's been channeling HST as he was writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or Oscar Zeta Acosta's Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo. Certainly, the song, like Thompson's and Acosta's books, captures the rotten core of the "American Dream" - in Kain's case, laying out a vision of an America with machine guns on every corner, and ending with a climax in which Kain and crew shout a warning to "Look Out For The Blue Guerrilla!" If you can dig on some Amiri Baraka-inspired second generation beat poetry, that takes on issues of racism and oppression that are every bit as topical today as they were back in 1971, this album's for you. Last Poets fans should dig this. I've heard his work described as Holy Roller Existential Blues and Poetic Aggression. That's as good a description as any. Gylan Kain has kept busy since his falling out with the Last Poets and the recording of The Blue Guerrilla as a playwright, multimedia collaborations with Z'ev, and of course performing his poetry both solo and with musical backing. He's most recently appeared with jazz/hip-hop/fusion artists Electric Barbarian since 2003, appearing on their 2004 album l. and Minirock from the Sun. "Friday night began with a sound collective called Electric Barbarian,