Pan Africanism : The Last Poets

Sun Ship

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The Last Poets


"When the moment hatches in time's womb there will be no art talk . . . The only poem you will hear will be the spear-point pivoted in the punctured marrow of the villain . . . Therefore we are the last Poets of the world."
- Little Willie Kgostile

Before 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.



Abiodun 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 "N*gga's 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.

Umar bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole continue to carry The Last Poets' Torch.
 

Sun Ship

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Aug 31, 2003
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Umar Bin Hassan

Ase! Brother PanAfrica...

This brother, Umar Bin Hassan, voice and poetic prose has become synonymous with the revolutionary fervor of the Last Poets, though he is on the original albums, he was not an originator of the group and is really just one of the many great word-warriors and great Black minds that has made this groups so powerful…

Yes Brother James, I have the CD, Holy Terror and another recent CD, let alone most of their classics…It’s a shame that the younger Brothers and Sisters are not as on top of these Brothers as they should be…but you can hear and see brother Umar on the recording artist Common’s latest CD and Video. It’s online also…

It was hard to find a good Bio on this brother, but this is somewhat useful…




Umar Bin Hassan


Umar Bin Hassan was born [1948] in Akron, Ohio, into a poor [working class]black family. Already as a youngster he dreamed of escaping his family’s lot and getting more out of life than slaving for the white man at the local rubber mill. So he sold his little sister’s record player to buy himself a bus ticket for New York City, where he joined The Last Poets, a group of black poets spreading a militant political message akin to that of the Black Panthers and Malcom X.



New York very nearly became Umar Bin Hassan’s death. Of course, there was poetry, the passionate performances of The Last Poets, and there was bebop, the music of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, whom he revered and who influenced his poems. But the ‘demons’ of drug abuse – as he called them – got him into their power and drove him out into the streets. He wandered from crackhouse to crackhouse, hustling, dealing, shooting up, until his sister finally came to his rescue and took him into her Connecticut home.

He succeeded in kicking his crack habit and in regaining his zest for life. One day his little nephew played a tape recording of a hiphop band named Tribe Called Quest, who had, without his knowledge, set one of his own poems to music….. Such rappers as Ice Cube and Chuck D. of Public Enemy sought inspiration [from him], and Umar now felt he should return to New York and continue his work with The Last Poets, whose message was still a relevant one, and resume his writing and performing with the group.

Umar appeared at the Poetry International Festival 2002 in Rotterdam with a guitarist, to perform jazzy, associative narratives such as ‘The Drums’ and ‘Grace’, evoking dark, infernal journeys through modern-day America, yet also counting his blessings: bebop music, love. With his strongly rhythmic, spectacular presentation, he impressed....many.

Jabik Veenbaas
Translated from Dutch by Ko Kooman


[Umar Bin Hassan took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2002. This text was written on that occasion.]


_________________
_________________

I tried to clean up and edit this translated bio about Brother Umar, just a little, to give it some justice.
 

jamesfrmphilly

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Sun Ship said:
It’s a shame that the younger Brothers and Sisters are not as on top of these Brothers as they should be….
any young person who reads this and is not down should stop what they are doing and go out and buy "holy terror".
 

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