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Thread: Lightnin' Rod, Last Poet Jalal Mansur Nuriddin dead at 74

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    Lightnin' Rod, Last Poet Jalal Mansur Nuriddin dead at 74

    Jalal Mansur Nuriddin: farewell to the 'grandfather of rap'

    As the founder of the Last Poets, Nuriddin, who has died aged 73, was a hero to everyone from Tupac Shakur to Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis
    Abdul Malik Al Nasir

    Wed 6 Jun 2018 10.19 BST Last modified on Wed 6 Jun 2018 13.30 BST


    Jalal Mansur Nuriddin – sometimes known as “the grandfather of rap” – who has died aged 73 of cancer, was born on 24 July 1944 in New York, growing up in the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn. He never told me his birth name, but he was professionally known as Alafia Pudim when he co-founded the legendary proto-rap outfit the Last Poets in May 1968, with fellow poets Omar Ben Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole, and percussionist Nilijah.

    Rarely do you encounter an artist who Miles Davies respected. In his autobiography Miles wrote: “I used to love poetry, especially the black poets, the Last Poets, LeRoi Jones – Amiri Baraka.” Or as Quincy Jones stated in his autobiography: “This mix of elements – what people now label rap – first came on my radar screen in the 1960s, with performers like the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron.”

    The Last Poets: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan, pictured in 1971.
    Facebook Twitter Pinterest The Last Poets: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan, pictured in 1971. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives
    The Last Poets signed to Douglas Records after Jimi Hendrix producer Alan Douglas heard them perform on a basketball court in Harlem – a prelude to what later became the famous block parties associated with DJ Kool Herc, where rap mixed with DJing to coalesce the hip-hop sound originally forged by the Last Poets. Douglas released their self-titled first album to critical acclaim in 1970, with the hit record Niggers Are Scared of Revolution – it established the Last Poets as the artistic vanguard of the civil rights movement, in the wake of the deaths and incarceration of so many of the black activist leaders in America, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers. People turned from the political leaders to the Black Arts Movement for their guidance in the early 70s – another such luminary was a young Gil Scott-Heron, who met them when they performed at Lincoln University, where he was studying. Gil wrote his seminal piece The Revolution Will Not Be Televised as a response to the Last Poets’ When the Revolution Comes, from that first album.

    In 1971 Douglas released their second album, This Is Madness. He wanted to release a classic “jail toast” – poetry by prisoners with rudimentary percussion – that Jalal had written called Hustlers Convention. Jalal had learned to toast while in prison – he never told anyone how he ended up there, only that he’d run the streets of Brooklyn with a gang called the Fort Greene Chaplains, who often fought with rivals the Bed-Stuy Bishops – but he was offered early release if he joined the army amid the Vietnam war draft. Jalal accepted and trained as a paratrooper. True to his revolutionary spirit, he refused to salute the flag while on parade one day, in protest at the war, got into a fight and got locked up again in the army jail. Like Malcolm X had done when he was drafted, he convinced them that he was a bit unhinged: he was given an honourable medical discharge and took a job as a stenographer in a Wall Street bank.

    He came to realise how the markets, bankers and brokers were far more prolific hustlers than any he’d seen on the streets and was inspired to write Hustlers Convention (1973) – it follows the exploits of two hustlers, Spoon and Sport, as Jalal characterised what he saw was wrong with life on the streets. The Mean Machine (1971), meanwhile, was an epic rap about modern life, characterised as a series of mechanised elements fused together to deceive mankind into behaving how the government wants them to, through technology, media and advertising. The classic lines “automatic push button remote control, synthetic genetics command your soul” were sampled in MARRS’s Pump Up the Volume. Jalal also recorded another jail toast with Jimi Hendrix called Doriella Du Fontaine, which he refused to release after Hendrix’s death because he “didn’t want to capitalise on Jimi”. Douglas did however release it in 1984 under another of Jalal’s aliases, Lightnin’ Rod.

    Full article with photos and music videos here:

    Rolling Stone article here:

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    Re: Lightnin' Rod, Last Poet Jalal Mansur Nuriddin dead at 74

    Yeah, sad news.

    I saw this article and it explains why Jalal was not part of the recently broadcast piece with the other poets that was aired on Newsnight here in the UK.
    "That's the best news I ever heard" Bob Dylan

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    Re: Lightnin' Rod, Last Poet Jalal Mansur Nuriddin dead at 74

    I know I'll never be the same . . .


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