Umar bin Hassan (Left), Abiodun Oyewole (Center), Babatunde
- Drummer (Right)
- Little Willie Kgostile
RAP knew its name, there was a group of ambitious young
men who reflected the harsh spirit of their times and whose
work remains prophetic and inspirational today. The Last
Poets started out in the late sixties, speaking out as few
other musical groups had, or have since, about racism, poverty
and other African American and societal concerns. RAPPERS
of the civil rights era, The Last Poets' charge has been
taken up by many contemporary artists who have felt the
legendary group's influence.
Last Poets (First Album, Douglas, 1970)
Oyewole, David Nelson and Gylan Kain were born as The
Last Poets on May 19, 1968 (the anniversary of Malcolm X's
birthday) in Mount Morris Park in Harlem, New York. They
evolved from three poets and a drummer to seven young black
and Hispanic artists: Umar bin Hassan, Abiodun
Oyewole, David Nelson, Gylan Kain, Felipe Luciano, Jalal
Nurridin and Suliaman El Hadi. The Last Poets' name derives
from the work of South African Poet Little Willie Kgostile,
who declared his era to be the last age of poets before
the complete takeover of guns.
The group was signed by jazz producer Alan Douglas, who
helmed their eye-opening debut LP in 1970. Their classic
poems "Niggers are Scared of Revolution," "This is Madness,"
"When the Revolution Comes," and "Gashman" were released
on their two albums, The Last Poets (1970) and This Is Madness
(1971). The Last Poets' spoken word albums preceded politically
laced R&B projects, such as Marvin Gaye What's Going On,
and foreshadowed the work of hard-hitting rap groups like
Public Enemy and Dead Prez.
Over the course of The Last Poets' more than thirty-year
history, the members of the group have collaborated in various
combinations to produce more than a dozen albums and several
books. They performed in the inaugural season of HBO's "Def
Poetry Jam", were cast in the movie "Poetic Justice" (1993),
toured with Lollapalooza (1994) and performed in venues
around the world.
bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole continue to carry
The Last Poets' Torch.
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