The Last Poets' Jalal Mansur Nurridin Has Died, Aged 73

The Last Poets' Jalal Mansur Nurridin, formerly known as Alafia Pudim, has died at the age of 73. A pioneer in proto-hip-hop, Nurridin died of cancer on June 4. Today, his one-time manager wrote a remembrance of Nurridin for the Guardian, one of many that have helped make a wider public aware of his passing.

The Last Poets performed poetry with political, existential, and Black Power themes overtop rhythmic percussion. Nurridin and fellow poets Omar Ben Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole took turns taking lead, often supporting each other's lines with chants and theatrical ad-libs.

Melding the worlds of the Black Arts Movement and popular music with their 1970 debut album, The Last Poets, and 1971's This Is Madness, they were hugely influential to the burgeoning hip-hop genre, with Nurridin himself being called a "grandfather of rap." His funkier solo work as Lightnin' Rod was also a major influence in its own right.

The Last Poets - "Related to What"

Nurridin's manager, Abdul Malik al Nasir, wrote this today about that the Last Poets' first record, released by Jimi Hendrix producer Alan Douglas’ Douglas Records:

"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."

Lightnin' Rod - "Sport"

After the disbandment of the original group, Nurridin continued to release albums as The Last Poets through the early '90s, expanding the sonic palette with full-band orchestrations—and even teaming up with drummer Bernard Purdie for 1977's Delights of the Garden.

Not only did Nurridin and The Last Poets help to form the model of what hip-hop would be, but their work would also be sampled often for later artists' beats. Many moments from Hustlers Convention, the 1973 album Nurridin made as Lightnin' Rod, have been used by Madlib, Lil Kim and Missy Elliott, Wu-Tang Clan, and more. And perhaps most famously, a sample from The Last Poets supplied the hook to Notorious B.I.G.'s "Party and Bullshit."

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