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Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, ‘Grandfather of Rap,’ Is Dead at 73

Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, ‘Grandfather of Rap,’ Is Dead at 73


“I wrote the album so people would sit up, take notice and not become one of the hustlers, card cheats, prostitutes, pimps and hijackers I rapped about,” he said in a 2015 documentary about “Hustlers Convention.”

In the documentary, the rapper Chuck D. of Public Enemy called the album a “verbal bible” for understanding the culture of the New York streets.

Mr. Nurridin was born Lawrence Padilla on July 24, 1944, in Brooklyn and grew up in a housing project in the Fort Greene neighborhood. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

“I had this need to express myself,” Mr. Nuriddin said of his childhood. “Everything was bottled up — not just within myself, but in the African-American people in general. So I began to write poetry.”

By his mid-20s, having briefly changed his name to Alafia Pudim, he was becoming known for his facility with words, and for speaking in spontaneous rhyme. (He began going by Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin in 1973.) He soon befriended members of the Last Poets, a group with a loose membership that had started in 1968 on Malcolm X’s birthday. He eventually became a core member.

Mr. Douglas got wind of the Last Poets and released their first album on his label, Douglas Records. But radio and television avoided the group, partly because of its unflinching attacks on institutional racism, and partly because it often used one particular word.

On pieces like Mr. Nuriddin’s feverish “Wake Up Niggers,” the Last Poets spoke directly to the street communities that they sought to help liberate, using an African-American lexicon that had rarely been caught on commercial recordings and alienating many listeners in the process.Record sellers often slapped cautionary stickers onto the “Last Poets” album (“Recommended for Mature Adults Only”) in yet another moment that presaged the conflicted relationship that hip-hop would have with the mainstream.

Despite tensions with Abiodun Oyewole, an original member of the Last Poets, Mr. Nuriddin continued performing under the Last Poets name for many years, typically alongside Suliaman El-Hadi. Mr. Nuriddin is featured on Last Poets recordings including the influential “This Is Madness” (1971), the sonically experimental “Chastisement” (1973) and “Scatterap/Home” (1993).



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