THE LAST POETS

Un­der­stand What Black Is 7/10

UNCUT - - New Albums - LOUIS PAT­TI­SON

Har­lem in­sur­rec­tion­ists re­freshed for the Black Lives Mat­ter era

Forged in the heat of the Civil Rights move­ment, The Last Poets’ po­lit­i­cally con­scious spo­ken word laid the ground­work for rap. Since the turn of the cen­tury they’ve been quiet, save for the oc­ca­sional live show. But Trump’s elec­tion has had a gal­vanis­ing ef­fect. “How Many Bul­lets” and “Rain Of Ter­ror” tackle Amer­ica’s his­tory of weaponised big­otry, while “The Bridge” of­fers a glimpse of spir­i­tual sal­va­tion, even as it ges­tures to the ills of the world. The mu­si­cal back­ing – which pairs Baba Donn Ba­batunde’s hand drums to reg­gae cour­tesy of Prince Fatty and Nos­tal­gia 77’s Ben Lamdin – is po­liter than the lyrics, but it can’t al­to­gether blunt the bold­ness of their dis­course.

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