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Transcending Toxic Times

by The Last Poets

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about

On a winter day just outside Philadelphia The Last Poets and Jamaaladeen Tacuma gathered at the Ropeadope Room for an interview in anticipation of their new release, Transcending Toxic Times. The mood was light, a casual gathering over soul food with the label, the producer, and the poets themselves. We cued up the album, brought the sound up and walked through the final recording. It was the first time all three had heard the finished album, and the interview was soon put on hold as three men sat, transfixed and intent, leaning on every note and word as they walked through their memories and even their purpose. Dare we say tears were shed, and as we spoke with cameras rolling it soon came out that THIS was the definitive Last Poets album.

50 years ago Abiodun Oyewole was in the middle of it: vocally challenging both the oppressors and the oppressed. Looking for truth to be spoken at any cost, mourning the loss of Malcolm and Martin among many others named and unnamed in THE struggle of the time. A struggle that is more relevant today than it ever was as African Americans continue to press the nation for truth and equality. Dun met Umar Bin Hassan at a Black Arts event in Ohio, and Umar made the trip to New York to join the group. Baba Donn Babatunde showed up later, adding percussion to the poetry.

The history is strong, much has been written and is easily found. But the spirit of these men in their common creative interaction is the real story. 50 years of perseverance, of bearing witness to the most atrocious of crimes, 50 years of personal challenges and yet still and adherence to the higher principles of love, or respect, and of kindness to your fellow human.

Enter Jamaaladeen Tacuma. It takes someone who understand the essence of The Last Poets better than the poets themselves. A man who knows the history from the inside, but has a foot in the music world as well. Tacuma’s bass playing is refined, yet just as swinging as if it were not. But it is his role as producer here that elevates this album above all others. A knowledge of what people want to hear, an understanding of what the message is and how it MUST be delivered, and the skill and friends to blend the two. This is not poetry set to music, nor is it music made for poets. This is a seamless transfiguration of the groove, the words, and the essential human elements that live between the notes and the words.

Transcending Toxic Times is a broad work of human emotion: Anger, scorn, frustration, challenge, beauty, sorrow, love, and joy are all present. The spoken word is rhythmic, melodic at times. The baselines and the groove are irresistible, and the message is unavoidable.

On that winter day we witnessed the realization of four great artists: that their individual and collective contributions had transcended each of them and ALL of them. That they were in the presence of something definitive and transcendent.

credits

released May 10, 2019

Abiodun Oyewole | Poet
Umar Bin Hassan | Poet
Baba Donn Babatunde | Poet, Percussion

Wadud Ahmad | Poet We Are The Last Poets, Soul Reflection
Ursula Rucker | Poet Don't Know What I'd Do
Malik B | MC Young Love

Jamaaladeen Tacuma | Bass
Richard Tucker | Electric & Acoustic Guitar
Yoichi Uzeki | Keys, Viola String Arrangement
Khary Abdul Shaheed | Drums

Guest Musicians:
Terry Adkins | Tenor Saxophone | Black Rage
Daud El Bakara | Trumpet | Love
Franz Niedermayer | Viola | Don't Know What I'd Do
Lady Alma | Vocals | Toxic Times
Wolfgang Puschnig | Saxophone | Toxic Times
Jake Morelli | Electric Guitar, Drums | Young Love
Tim Motzer | Electric Guitar | JuJu Jimi

Produced by Jamaaladeen Tacuma for Jam ALL Productions
Associate Producer - Rahima Tacuma
Co Producer - Jake Morelli on Young Love

Recorded by:
Tim Motzer | 1K Studio (Philly),
June Lopez | Traveling Colours Music Studio (Philly)
Jake Morelli | JMoTone Studios (Philly) - Young Love
Jamaaladeen Tacuma | TSE Studios (Philly, NYC, Seoul, Korea)

Mixed by:
June Lopez | Traveling Colours Music Studio (Philly)
Jamaaladeen Tacuma | Sound Genetics Recording Studio (Philly) -

Don’t Know What I’d Do
Jake Morelli | JMoTone Studios (Philly) - Young Love
Gregg Mann | Iconoclash Studios - (NYC) Soul Reflections

Mastered by
Gregg Mann | Iconoclash Studios (NYC)
Jamaaladeen Tacuma | Sound Genetics Recording Studio (Philly)

Cover Art | Sound Evidence
Photography | Sound Evidence

Packaging Design | Niko Marks | Kaya Marks

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The Last Poets New York, New York

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 Into The Punctured Marrow Of The Villain, And The Timeless Native Son Dancing Like Crazy To Retrieved Rhythms Of Desire Faded Into Memory. Therefore, We Are The Last Poets Of The World. ... more

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