Rap Prehistory




Gil Scott-Heron: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED (Flying Dutchman, 1974:) Gill Scott-Heron was a poet and published novelist while still a teenager. His albums for Flying Dutchman showcased his socially conscious poetry with subtle jazz accompaniment from the likes of Ron Carter and Pretty Purdie. This is a compilation of Scott-Heron's work from 1970 - 1974, and includes his definitive Black Power statement, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Scott-Heron's intelligence and the fire of his delivery would exert a great influence over the hip hop of the 80's, when rappers such as KRS 1 of Boogie Down Productions and Chuck D of Public Enemy would continue Gil's legacy of literate-but-streetwise social commentary.


The Original Last Poets: RIGHT ON! (Dagored 1971:) The Last Poets pre-date Gil Scott-Heron by several years and were certainly the first rap group. The Last Poets were an outgrowth of the late 60's Black Power movement in New York City, and were highly politicized enemies of black apathy and advocates of Black Panther-style revolutionary action.

This live album, released in conjunction with a documentary about the group, documents a poetry reading in New York. The small, but enthusiastic crowd is doubtlessly made up of the black revolutionaries and radical intellectuals with whom the Last Poets aligned themselves. The Poets themselves are on fire - starting out angry at first and getting progressively madder and madder as the show goes on. The ambience is close to a social equality version of "Scared Straight," and its easy to see how the intensity, if not the purpose, of the Last Poets has rubbed off on today's hip hop.


Lightnin' Rod: HUSTLERS CONVENTION (United Artists 1973:) The first Gangster Rap album, HUSTLERS CONVENTION has been a hugely influential classic. Lightnin' Rod was actually Jalal Nuriddin of the Last Poets. Here, he raps the story of Sport, a superbad player who hustles the hustlers at an underworld gathering. Ice T has paid direct homage to HUSTLERS CONVENTION on his early albums, and it is hard to listen to the Geto Boys or Snoop Dogg's tales of gangland glory without hearing echoes of Lightnin' Rod.

On HUSTLERS CONVENTION, Rod raps over cool funk by Kool and the Gang, King Curtis, Billy Preston, Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie, Eric Gale, Chuck Rainy, and Wilbur Bascomb. On "Doriella Du Fontaine," a non-album single Rod cut in 1968 (Celluloid Douglas Records 1984,) he can be heard performing with Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles .