Formed on the 19th of May 1968 (Malcolm X's birthday), Harlem, New York, U.S.A.
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin (Alafia Pudim) (b. Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, July 1944, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A., d. 4th June 2018, U.S.A.)
Abiodun Oyewole (a.k.a. Charles Davis) (b. 1948, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Umar Bin Hassan (b. 1948, Akron, Ohio, U.S.A.)
Kenyatte Abdur-Rahman (b. 2nd May 1952, Bronx, New York, U.S.A. d. 1st November 2015, U.S.A.)
Suliaman El Hadi (d. October 1995, U.S.A.)
Nilaja Obabi (a.k.a. Raymond Hurrey) (deceased)
Jamal Abdus Sabur
Abu Mustapha (b. Cuba. deceased)
Formed on the 19th of May 1968, East Harlem, New York, U.S.A.
The Last Poets were a combination of several Civil Rights Movement poets, who merged their musical skills with their political oratory, in order to form a musical platform, voicing the concerns of Black people during that turbulent era.
Today, this group are widely accepted as one of the true originators of the hip-hop genre.
The Poets were formed on the 19th of May 1968 in East Harlem, on the birthday of Malcolm X.
Group members, Jalaludin M. Nuriddin, an Army paratrooper, along with Abiodun Oyewole, chose to go to jail instead of fight in the Vietnam War.
He helped create the group in prison after converting to Islam.
l to r: jamal mansur nuriddin, umar bin hassan, abiodun oyewole and nilaja obadi
After release from prison, the poets joined the East Wind Workshop in Harlem.
The Last Poets group name came from a poem penned by the South African poet, Keorapetse Kgositsile (a political revolutionary).
The group’s original line-up included Felipe Luciano, Gylan Kain, and David Nelson, who performed under the name of The Original Last Poets.
The Poets delivery of message, combined with music, undoubtedly influenced many of the Hip Hop artists that followed two decades later.
The group signed to the Douglas Records imprint, an underground label, which showcased poetry and jazz, (founded by Alan Douglas in 1967).
The Poets first album, was a self titled album, released in 1970, and featuring the tracks ’N-xggxr's Are Scared Of Revolution’ and ‘New York, New York’.
the last poets - 1970 / this is madness - 1971 / right on! - 1971 / chastisement - 1972
The album reached the Top Ten album charts, however, Abiodun was arrested for robbery before a tour could begin, and was subsequently replaced by Nilajah Obabi.
Two albums followed in 1971, firstly, ‘This Is Madness’, followed by the soundtrack to the film ‘Right On!’.
The ‘Right On’ album was released under another group name, ‘The Original Last Poets’, which featured several original members of the line-up.
’This Is Madness’ featured: Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole, Sulaiman El-Hadi and Nilaja Obabi.
The release of this album resulted in the group being listed as part of the counter-intelligence program founded by the President at the time, President Richard Nixon.
The group switched labels to Blue Thumb Records for two further albums, namely ‘Chastisement’ (in 1972) and ‘At Last’ (in 1973).
In 1972, they also appeared on the album ‘Black Spirits - Festival Of New Black Poets In America’, featured on the songs ‘And See Her Image In The River’ and ‘Song of Ditla, Pt. II’.
David Nelson left the group in 1968, was replaced briefly by Felipe Luciano, his shoes becoming filled by Alafia Pudim.
Umar Bin Hassan left the group following the ‘This Is Madness’ album.
Umar was replaced by Sulaiman El-Hadi.
1972’s ‘Chastisement’ featured a more fusion based approach, which the group defined as ‘jazzoetry’.
at last - 1973 / delights of the garden - 1977 / long enough - 1984 / oh my people - 1985
Two years later, the album ‘At Last’ was released, which showcased a further inclusion of live musicians, including Brother Juice (sax), Claude Lawrence (sax), Casa Burak (piano), Phillip King (drums) and Duke Cleamons (bass).
In 1977, the album ‘Delights Of The Garden’ featured a collaboration with drummer Bernard Purdie.
Released back on the Douglas imprint, this set featured the popular Acid Jazz dancer ‘It’s A Trip’, a track which went on to feature on one of the Street Sounds ‘Jazz Juice’ compilations a decade later on.
By the Eighties, this inspirational ensemble’s works were reaching fruition with their contemporaries.
Hip Hop acts had taken the lead in political comment, taking over from the Civil Rights generation.
The ’new kids on the block’ were respectful of the originators, whilst the Poets continued to release album material.
In 1984, the Last Poets released the single 'Long Enough' on Kee Wee Records, which proved popular in the Soul and Funk clubs at the time.
In 1985, they released ‘Oh My People’ for the Celluloid records imprint, followed by the album ‘Freedom Express’ in 1988.
freedom express - 1988 / holy terror - 1993 / scatterap/home - 1994 / time has come - 1997
The group collaborated with the bassist and producer Bill Laswell, on these recordings.
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin and Sulaiman El-Hadi both worked on the 1994 album, ‘Scatterrap/Home’, however, Sulaiman, sadly, passed away a year later.
The Last Poets continued to released albums, this time featuring Umar Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole.
1995 saw the release of ‘Holy Terror’ for the P-Vine Records imprint.
1997’s ‘Time Has Come’ was released on Mouth Almighty Records.
The respect shown to this group, features collaborations with the likes of Common, the Wu-Tang Clan & Black Market Militia, Nas, DST and Public Enemy.
More recently, Abiodun Oyowele became involved in a protest movement against the death penalty, whilst Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, worked on a poetry collection entitled, ‘Ordinary Guy’.
In 2011 & 2014, Abiodun Oyewole and Umar Bin Hassan brought the Last Poets to the Jazz Cafe in London.
They both performed at a tribute show for deceased Last Poets group members, and their recently deceased contemporary, Gil Scott Heron.
Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin
Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin died from cancer on the 4th June 2018.
The Last Poets (Douglas Records 1970)
This Is Madness (Douglas Records 1971)
Right On! (Original Soundtrack) (Juggernaut Records 1971)
Chastisment (Blue Thumb Records 1973)
At Last (Blue Thumb Records 1974)
Delights of the Garden (Douglas Records 1977)
Oh My People (Celluloid Records 1985)
Freedom Express (Acid Jazz Records 1988)
Holy Terror (P-Vine Records 1993)
Scatterap / Home (Bond Age Records 1994)
Time Has Come (Mercury Records 1997)
Understand What Black Is (Studio Rockers Records 2018)