- Text by Alex Robert Ross
There’s been a steady stream of feel-good docudramas about music’s forgotten heroes in the last few years. Searching for Sugarman – though occasionally sparing with the truth – was a story so good that it almost told itself. Then, soon after, there was A Band Called Death, an even less likely story with even better tunes.
Jalal Mansur Nuriddin’s story is different, though. Rodriguez found fame on other continents and Death were criminally consigned to dusty attics, but Nuriddin’s influence is still being felt today. He is the grandfather of rap.
It was Nuriddin’s 1973 record Hustler’s Convention that acted as a blueprint for the genre’s formation over the coming decades, known off by heart by everyone from Chuck D to Grandmaster Flash. It was the album that sold a million through word of mouth alone. As such, Nuriddin – a member of The Last Poets, who used the pseudonym Lightnin’ Rod for his solo work – hasn’t received the plaudits that his followers did.
British filmmaker Mike Todd has brought that story to life in his new documentary on the great man. With Nuriddin’s endless poetry keeping the film’s syncopated rhythm, Todd explores the impact the album had on rap’s genesis, interviewing those closest to the record and analysing the reasons for its designation as a ‘cult’ record rather than the innovative masterwork that it is.
Hustler’s Convention is out in the UK June 26. Keep your eyes open for Huck 51 – The Adventure Issue, featuring an extended interview with Jalal Mansur Nuriddin.