THE LAST POETS: Speak Up Newcomers Tour

In July, Apples and Snakes took to the road with The Last Poets, legendary spoken word artists born out of the civil rights movement of the late 60’s. We take a look back at the Speak Up Newcomers Tour…

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Photo credit: Suzi Corker www.suzicorker.com

‘Before we can have a revolution we must have an evolution of self. If we only knew what we can do…’  – The Last Poets

Apples and Snakes were honoured to collaborate with The Last PoetsUmar Bin Hassahn, Abiodun Oyewole, and Babatunde – on their UK tour, Speak Up Newcomers last month. The group last performed in London in 2013 as part of Architects of Our Republic, a spoken word celebration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I have a dream…’ speech at the Southbank Centre, produced by Apples and Snakes. Hailed as the godfathers of hip hop, The Last Poets fuse music and poetry to raise a politically charged discourse around topics such as race, poverty, and equality, with a focus on raising African-American conciousness.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 13.34.15The Last Poets: Speak Up Newcomers Tour took place from 17th-23rd July 2015 and saw Umar, Abiodun, and Babatunde captivate audiences up and down the country; the passion behind the group’s art was almost tangible, with the guys never passing up an opportunity to share their work and engage with new people, seeing it as the poet’s responsibility to create a universal conversation.

I believe in giving back and working with the young people […] I give them information, that’s our responsibility’ – Abiodun Oyewole in conversation with Jumoké Fashole

Throughout the tour, The Last Poets were joined by UK rising spoken word artists Shoshana Anderson, Kareem Parkins-Brown, Rachel Long and Antosh Wojcik as well as the acclaimed Anthony Anaxagorou, Sabrina Mahfouz, Deanna Rodgers, Kayo Chingonyi, GREEdS, and Charlie Dark. Bringing together the diversity of voices from different times and places, the newcomers joined forces with Umar, Abiodun, and Babatunde to create a brand new collaborative work inspired by The Last Poets’ track This is Madness. The group took to the Voicebox stage at Lovebox Festival to perform the work for the first time in front of a live audience. Check out our Lovebox Festival photo set.

‘I will hold this for a long time, forever if I can. Whatever forever looks like’ – Antosh Wojcik

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Photo credit: Suzi Corker www.suzicorker.com 

Still taking in the summer scene, the The Last Poets also packed out the poetry tent at Latitude Festival before heading to The Jazz Café in Camden and Band on the Wall in Manchester. Building relationships and gaining connections as they went, with each gig the tour gained momentum, culminating in a sellout ‘An Audience With…’ event at the brand new London venue, Pop Brixton, hosted by the incredible Jumoké Fashola.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 13.43.52Wow!! @TheLastPoetsNYC are the Soul Food of the Revolution. Thank you for feeding my soul tonight #MuchLove’ – Audience member – Band on the Wall, Manchester

With standing room only, Jumoké facilitated a lively discussion, bringing a huge range of topics to the table, from the founding principles of The Last Poets, to how their work relates to young people today and provides an opening for difficult and important conversations about contemporary social issues. Incorporating a mixture of in-house audience questions and #askTLP Twitter questions,  the evening was interspersed with live performance from The Last Poets, whose energy and enthusiasm never waned. One thing that stood out was the urgency and authenticity of their message. View a selection of photographs from the event, here.

‘The poet makes you see what you’ve seen but in a way you’ve never seen it before…’ – The Last Poets

Check out the whole tour, including behind the scenes photos, interviews, and your messages and tweets, with our Speak Up Newcomers Tour Storify. Watch an interview with The Last Poets and I Am Hip Hop Magazine (contains strong language).