One can debate endlessly about who invented rap music, but if rap's essence is beats and rhymes, then it's difficult to get around the towering influence New York City-based jazz/poetry group the Last Poets had on the creation of the form. The group's self-titled 1970 debut was a musical and political call to arms built on polyrhythmic drum beats and fierce verse poetry about black power, Afrocentricity, and the realities of street life. In 1973, founding member and group leader Jalal Mansur Nuriddin released the epic concept album HUSTLERS CONVENTION. Often cited as the first gangsta rap album, it presaged hip-hop's most lucrative subgenre by nearly two decades.
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