Posted on Monday, May 2nd, 2016

“David Bowie calls The Last Poets’ record ‘one of the fundamental building blocks of rap.’ Asked by Vanity Fair (Nov. 2003) to list just 25 albums from his vast vinyl collection that he had to get on CD, Bowie makes the Poets’ debut his first choice.”

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of David BOWIE; Davie Jones (Davy Jones), posed, c.1965, reading book (Photo by CA/Redferns)

The Last Poets is the name for several groups of poets and musicians who arose from the late 1960s African-American civil rights movement’s black nationalist movement. The name is taken from a poem by the South African revolutionary poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, who believed he was in the last era of poetry before guns would take over. The original users of that name were the trio of Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson.

However, it is the versions of the group led by Jalaluddin Masur Nuriddin and/or Umar Bin Hassan that have penetrated mass culture to a legendary degree. The Last Poets have been cited as one of the earliest influences on hip-hop music. Critic Jason Ankeny wrote: “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 British music magazine NME stated, “Serious spokesmen like Gil Scott-Heron, The Last Poets, and later Gary Byrd, paved the way for the many socially committed Black [emcees] a decade later.


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