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25 Years

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Album Review

One of the original Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole issued this excellent recording in 1996 on the Rykodisc imprint as part of producer Bill Laswell's Black Arc series. Laswell, who produced the set, gathered together a who's who of New York's downtown best to assist on 25 Years. That cast includes Henry Threadgill, Aiyb Deng, Umar Bin Hassan, Don Babatunde, Brandon Ross, and Ted Daniel, to name a few. Oyewole offers the dead on proof that he is a rapper of the first order amid drums, fat rumbling basslines, rumbling percussion, reeds, and voices. His themes are related to that of the lifelong revolutionary — a diehard who never gives up hope — the irony of thug life, love and lust, unity, Rastafarianism, and the struggle of living and dying in a racist America where the only real interest of the current system is preservation at all costs no matter how bloodthirsty and cannibalistic the means to that end. Oyewole is a prophet whose anger is righteous but whose compassion is real. His motivation is spiritual, based on the love of justice and a true equality: where what is equal is not defined by lip service but in the actions caused the removal of ignorance. Dub reggae, steamy funk, hip-hop, poetry and jazz are the means by which these articulations are brought to fruition. It is as consistent as anything by the Last Poets, and the music is as profound and moving as the message. This may be a bit tricky to find, but is well worth any effort one takes to find it.

25 Years, Abiodun Oyewole
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