When I was in my early college years, the first tastes of individual freedom coincided with my ever-increasing Black awareness and studying the Lessons of the Gods & Earths.
It was also around this time that I caught my first whiff of The Last Poets. Big Ron from NYC, who was a “career student,” was a campus music guru & historian. He was the one you went to when you wanted to hear those stories of The Tunnel or find out about an particular artist who had a strong cultural influence, regardless of genre. I can’t remember why I asked him about the Poets, but I can recall him dubbing two tapes for me, labeling them with his loopy handwriting (I still have those tapes). He started me out with This Is Madness, their self-titled debut & an assortment of others songs. I threw the tape in my Walkman & was nearly blown away. I felt informed. More than that, I felt my rage put into words, but not in the form of rap. Spoken words. Ranging emotions, thoughts & experiences all given life by this group of wordsmiths who had no direct relationship with rap, yet you could trace rap’s lineage from them.
A few weeks ago, Trackstar plunked this message into my inbox. As you can see with the tracklist, it’s a mix of The Last Poets of the past & their direct connection to the present. I wasn’t going to share it until I was speaking with someone & he told me that “I wasn’t even aware of them until ‘The Corner.'” It was then I figured it was time to pass this along. To that end, it serves as an introductory course of sorts. Or as a refresher, since I’ve been quietly enjoying it for myself, reliving my past & remembering my roots & purpose.