Jalal ‘Lightnin Rod’ Nuraddin of The Last Poets Speaks on ‘Hustlers Convention,’ screening Saturday at SF Black Film Festival

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by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

BlockReportRadio.com interviews the father of Gangsta Rap, Jalal “Lightening Rod” Nuriddin of the Last Poets, about his classic piece, “The Hustlers’ Convention.” He speaks all around the world, with some of his answers touching street knowledge, the history of the ‘60s poets, Rap history and more.

“Hustlers’ Convention,” the documentary, screens Saturday, June 18, 6 p.m., at the African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St. in San Francisco, as a part of the San Francisco Black Film Festival. Go to sfbff.org.

Jalal “Lightening Rod” Nuriddin of the Last Poets
Jalal “Lightening Rod” Nuriddin of the Last Poets

The film centers around the life and times of Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of The Last Poets and the forgotten influence of his seminal record, “Hustlers Convention,” an album that changed the face of music. It gave the streets a voice and was recited in inner cities across America. Despite being largely forgotten, it still resonates with meaning today. The likes of Fab Five Freddy and Melle Mel can still recite the album word for word.

Animation sequences bring to life the epic story contained within the Convention, as its themes interweave with the history and culture that is being explored. Footage from iconic Blaxploitation films of the era and historical archive further bring the period to life. However, this is more than just a tale of how a sub-culture evolved; it is also a personal and very human story of Jalal’s own struggles.

Taking its title from the album, the film reveals the deep roots rap music has in the oral tradition of the Jail Toast, rhymed storytelling filled with larger than life characters. In “Hustlers Convention,” Jalal’s toasting style met the politics of the post-Malcolm X era and gave birth to rap as we know it today.

In the words of Fab Five Freddy, “Hustlers Convention” is “the greatest toast of them all.”

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’“ and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2“ and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe“ and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

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