Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, a notable member of spoken-word collective The Last Poets passed away on Monday (June 4). He was 74 years old. The cause of death has yet to be revealed, Rolling Stone reports.
“It is with extreme sadness and a heavy heart that the family of Jalal Nuriddin announce the passing of this great pioneer of the recording industry,” Nuriddin’s family said in a statement. “Jalal slipped quietly away this evening into the arms of Allah.”
Heralded as “The Grandfather of Rap,” Nuriddin was a member of the pioneering hip-hop precursor collective’s second generation including Umar Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole. All reigning from the lively civil rights movement sector of black nationalism of the late 1960s, The Last Poets were among the era’s key wordsmiths who articulated the emotions and mental stance of Blacks during a time black identity was severely at fault amid politics, economics, and socialism.
As one of the lead spoken-word emcees of the collective, Nuriddin is renowned for his infectious wordplay on the trio’s self-titled debut album, The Last Poets. In 1973, his oral utterance on his quintessential LP Hustler’s Convention contributed to the blueprint of the then-burgeoning Hip-Hop emcee. It was an avid account of a grown man’s understanding of the reality of the Ghetto. Under the moniker “Lightin’ Rod” and with use of Spoagraphics (an art form of spoken pictures, coined by Nuriddin himself), he curated a gem which became one of the most influential aids to the lyrical context of Black youth.
“At the end of the year 1971, I began to write “The Hustler’s Convention”, because of a need to express the realities of life on the streets. My understanding at that time was that there were three types of education that a person may or may not receive in their lifetime. The first one was the education that you get at home (providing that you have a home). The second was the education that you get in school (providing that you can afford to go to school). And the third one consisted of the education that you got on the streets (Providing that you lived in a city or small town),” wrote Nuriddin on his home website.
As the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and beyond fled, Nuriddin continued to perform with his set of the legendary group. In 1993, he appeared in hip-hop cult classic Poetic Justice starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur as himself. He also went on to commemorate the 40th anniversary of his classic LP, Hustler’s Convention in the UK, followed by a noted self-titled documentary with Chuck D as executive producer.