Tag Archives: The Last Poets

A Guide to Spoken Word on Bandcamp

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Tanesha the Wordsmith

In May 2018, The Last Poets celebrated their 50th year with a new LP, Understand What Black Is. Back in the late ’60s, the group used politically charged raps and militant rhythms to raise black consciousness and spread awareness throughout Harlem, Manhattan. At the same time, in a different part of the city, Gil Scott-Heron was using his own barbed verse to attack consumer culture, mass media, and systemic racism, setting spoken word poetry to steady-boiling free jazz. And while spoken word verse had been around for centuries—think back to the storytelling of 13th century griots in the Mandé Empire of Mali, West Africa, or even further back to the original wordsmiths of Ancient Greece—Heron and the Last Poets were among the first to see its value as a popular art form, and a way to comment on the turbulent world around them.

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The Best Electronic Music on Bandcamp: October 2018

Electronic

Dance music has always been about cultural fusion, by virtue of the endless need for the new, and the ability of technology to dissolve and repurpose any sound. Sometimes this can result in crass appropriation; but it can also create a crucible for new hybrids of sound.

This month produced a bumper crop of those kind of musical cross-wirings: A 50-years-deep NYC poetry project meets old Mauritius and young London; a Bristolian uses abstract sounds to dream about her family in Fiji; a Russian rejuvinates London grime; a Scotsman turns dub reggae inside out. That’s before you get to the 25 different flavors of acid, sensual techno, amped-up hypersoul, and straight-up house music from all corners of the planet. It’s good to be reminded sometimes what a weird, wired world it really is.

View the Best Electronic Music on Bandcamp archives.

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Fifty Years On, The Last Poets are Still a Vital Force

Last Poets

Photos by Hollis King

The South African poet laureate Keorapetse “Willie” Kgositsile once wrote these words: “This wind you hear is the birth of memory. When the moment hatches in time’s womb, there will be no art talk. The only poem you will hear will be the spear point pivoted in the punctured marrow of the villain, the timeless native son dancing like crazy to the retrieved rhythms of desire fading into memory.” Continue reading