Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, whose work in the spoken-word group the Last Poets helped earn him the title of the “Grandfather of Rap,” died Monday. He was 74.
“It is with extreme sadness and a heavy heart that the family of Jalal Nuriddin announce the passing of this great pioneer of the recording industry,” his family said in a statement. “Jalal slipped quietly away this evening into the arms of Allah.” No cause of death was revealed.
Nuriddin contributed to the Last Poets’ 1970 debut album as well as the follow-up, This Is Madness. These albums, which paired minimal, driving, percussive accompaniment with emphatic, relentlessly political spoken-word vocals, are widely regarded as crucial early examples of hip-hop.
As reissues and archival releases became increasingly popular, historians and hip-hop fans alike became more interested in correcting the historical record to acknowledge the contributions of figures like Nuriddin. British director Mike Todd helmed a documentary on Hustlers Convention in 2015. The Hollywood Reporter called the film “austere but engrossing
Despite the efforts of Todd and others, Nuriddin struggled to make a living as the rappers who sampled him and paid homage to his work thrived. “Q-Tip was the only rapper who helped me out,” Nuriddin told Noisey. “He sent me a grand when I was stranded and it got me out of hot water.”
In a statement, Nuriddin’s family said that “details regarding his jananza (funeral) will be forthcoming shortly.”