The Grandfather of Rap Returns

Hustlers Convention, a new feature documentary, is set to reveal the forgotten roots of rap.

In 1973, a fast-talking hustler by the name of Sport played a huge part in the birth of Hip Hop. Brought to life by Lightnin’ Rod aka Jalal Nuriddin of The Last Poets, and backed by music from Kool & The Gang and many others, this street tale of card sharks, gamblers, dope peddlars and thieves, changed the face of music.

Melle Mel, Fab 5 Freddie and many others can still recite it word for word. Chuck D has described it as a ‘verbal bible to understand the streets’. Wu Tang, the Beastie Boys and Jungle Brothers have all paid homage to it.

Yet still, despite this recognition, the album is largely missing from its rightful place in history. The film makers behind the new film have just launched a crowd funding campaign to help change that.

For the last two years a documentary team has been following Jalal’s story, piecing together this cultural missing link. When Jalal’s street rhyming style, based on the African American jail toast tradition, met the Black Power politics of the post-Malcolm X era, the art of rap as we know it today, was born.


As a key member of New York’s The Last Poets, Jalal and his fellow members became the voice of a generation. They provided an expression of the anger of the streets like had never been heard before.

However, it was Jalal’s solo album, Hustlers Convention, which painted a colorful world of larger than life characters, doing what they needed to do to survive, that really set the bar for what rap as an art form could become.

Hip Hop may have changed over the years. But its origins haven’t. The film makers behind the project have just launched a crowd funding campaign to ensure that this crucial piece of cultural history is captured and preserved.


Film maker Mike Todd, whose last feature doc was the critically acclaimed Joe Frazier: When the Smoke Clears, explained: “This is a truly global story. Rap, as a key part of Hip Hop, has changed the world. It has given a voice to people across the globe. And yet, this crucial aspect of the art’s origins is missing from history. We want to change that.”

“Like many people, I grew up with this music. It provided an insight and an awareness about the world we lived in, a different perspective, which simply wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Everywhere where you find people searching to tell their own stories, with their own voice – you will find rap and Hip Hop. But despite the massive influence rap has had on global culture, so little is known about where it really comes from. For the first time, we are putting together a missing piece of history that will let people really understand the historical context of how and why this art form developed.”

The campaign to support the film can be found at www.hustlersconventionfilm.com. Perks include a unique limited edition vinyl of the legendary album, signed by its creator.

The documentary comes at a time when, for the first time in forty years, Jalal Mansur Nuriddin will be taking to the stage to perform Hustlers Convention live. It will take place at London’s iconic Jazz Café on February 10th 2014. It will be the first time the album has been performed in its entirety since its release.

Producer Lathan Hodge, who has been involved with Hip Hop for many years as a close collaborator with Public Enemy explains:

“Filming the gig in London will be the culmination of our journey with Jalal. We’re just reaching out now to people for who this history matters, to help us preserve it.”

Hustlers Convention the film is set for release in Summer 2014.



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