In 1969 Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, Umar Bin Hassan, and Abiodun Oyewole would form a group called The Last Poets. The Last Poets along with The Watts Prophets and Gil Scott Heron would form the blueprint for rap and hip hop.
In 1973 Nuriddin would record a solo album called Hustler’s Convention under the name Lightnin’ Rod featuring music by Kool and the Gang. Hustler’s Convention is an album length story about two hustlers preparing for a large gathering of the underworld, then the convention itself, climaxing in a car chase and shoot out with the police and ending with one of them in jail. With its continuous narrative structure its hard to just single out one song and play it out of context but the opener, “Spoon”, acts as a great introduction to one of the main characters.
The words are tight and full of natural rhythm. The voice bragging and arrogant but there is a hard fought and hard earned experience there. Here’s a guy who started young and never let up. Is he talking shit or is he for real? That’s for you to decide. Either way here is a great crime fiction character at the start of a great crime fiction story.
It was a full moon
in the middle of June,
in the summer of fifty-nine;
I was young and cool
and shot a bad game of pool,
and hustled all the chumps I could find.
Now they called me Sport,
’cause I pushed a boss short,
and loved all the women to death;
I partied hard
and packed a mean rod,
‘n could knock you out with a right or a left.
I had learned to shoot pool
playing hookey from school
at the tender age of nine.
And by the time I was eleven,
I could pad-roll seven,
and down me a whole quart of wine.
I was makin’ it a point
to smoke me a joint
at least once during the course of a day;
and I was snortin’ scag
while other kids played tag
and my elders went to church to pray.
I’ve pitched pennies
and downed bennies
and played the horses at the track.
I’ve won at cards
against tremendous odds,
and my favorite game was Black Jack.
I’ve seldom lost,
’cause my game was so boss,
I mean I had my shit down pat,
and I was runnin’ through bitches,
like rags to riches,
’cause that’s where my heart was at.
Yes, I was a down studs dream
a hustler supreme,
there wasn’t no game that I couldn’t play,
and if I caught a dude cheatin’
I would give him a beatin’
and I might even blow ’em away!