Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, A Founding Member Of The Last Poets And Harlem Writers Workshop

June 7, 2018

Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin, July 24, 1944 – June 4, 2018, was an American poet and musician. He was one of the founding members of The Last Poets, a group of poets and musicians that evolved in the 1960s out of the Harlem Writers Workshop in New York City.

He was born in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Earlier in his career he used the names Lightnin’ Rod and Alafia Pudim. He is sometimes called “The Grandfather of Rap”.

The Last Poets “Surprise” 1971, video:

in 2004 Nuriddin wrote the foreword to Malik Al Nasir’s poetry collection Ordinary Guy, published under Malik’s pre-Islamic name Mark T. Watson in the UK by Fore-Word Press. Nuriddin was also featured in the documentary Word Up – From Ghetto to Mecca, along with poets Gil Scott Heron, Mark T. Watson a.k.a. Malik Al Nasir, Rod Youngs (Gil Scott-Heron’s Amnesia Express) and dub poet Benjamin Zephaniah, where he discussed the significance of the spoken word as an extension of the African oral tradition, as well as the origins of rap and the work of his student and friend Malik Al Nasir. In the film Nuriddin recites from Al Nasir’s book “Ordinary Guy” the poem he wrote as a foreword to the book called “Malik’s Mode”. Nuriddin also later recorded Malik’s Mode with Al Nasir’s band “Malik & the O.G’s” for the album Rhythms of the Diaspora Vol’s 1 & 2 at Mercredi 9 Studios in Paris while filming the Word Up documentary. The album Rhythms of the Diaspora Vol’s 1 & 2 was released on 1 August 2015 on Mentis records in the UK.

Nuriddin returned to the UK in 2014 to perform live the seminal solo album Hustlers Convention, credited as being the first ever rap album live at the Jazz Café in Camden Town, London. The event was produced by Fore-Word Press for Riverhorse Communications who filmed it as part of a documentary on the forgotten roots of rap called Hustlers Convention. The executive producer is Public Enemy’s front man Chuck D. The film Hustlers Convention, directed by Mike Todd, premiered at Docfest in Sheffield UK in 2015, with its London premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, on June 14, 2015. The Hustlers Convention Live featured The Jazz Warriors International Collective, Malik & the O.G’s and poet Lemn Sissay. The UK DVD release of the historical Hustlers Convention was in 2015. After the film premiered in the UK at Docfest 2015 it went on general release through Kaleidoscope and premiered in New York at TriBeca Film Festival 2015 for its USA cinema release. Nuriddin screened the film also in Canada in 2016 as part of a tour with UK poet Malik Al Nasir called “The Revolution Will Be Live” comprising seminars, poetry performances, school visits, workshops and joint screenings of Al Nasir’s film also featuring Nuriddin, called Word-Up.

Jalal died after a long battle with cancer on June 4, 2018.

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