The Last Poets: The Hiphop Forefathers Who Gave Black America Its Voice
Initially formed in 1968 on Malcolm X’s birthday, The Last Poets are among rap’s musical and oral predecessors (Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America 55). The group began as three poets and a drummer combining spoken word with conga drum rhythms for powerful political and social commentary. They evolved to include seven young black and Latinx artists: Umar bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole, David Nelson, Gylan Kain, Felipe Luciano, Jalal Nurridin and Suliaman El Hadi. The Last Poets’ name derives from a poem by South African poet laureate and activist (and father to rapper Earl Sweatshirt) Keorapetse Kgositsile titled “Towards a Walk in the Sun.” In a rare interview with The Guardian's Rebecca Bengal, the Last Poets’ Adiodun Oyewole, Umar Bin Hassan, and Baba Donn Babatunde discuss the group’s legacy as well as the continued value and significance of poetry.
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