Published May 16, 2018The world has changed in many ways since the Last Poets formed in the 1960s, but the battle for equality has yet to be won. Understand What Black Is is a timely contribution then — a scathing observation of the current state of America that proves there is no rest for a revolutionary.
The album, the first effort from the Poets in 20 years, is just as blunt and angry as their past work. But it is tempered with a patient wisdom that can only come with time, experience, and the gift of hindsight.
Over earthy, reggae-inspired beats, the Poets tackle the same issues they've addressed in their poetry for decades: racism, violence, inequality, oppression. But they deliver their message with a conviction that betrays any world-weariness.
Especially commanding performances include fiery selections like "How Many Bullets" and "Rain of Terror," while sweeter, more aspirational poems like "What I Want to See" provide balance to the rancour. It's a lament over the world's ills, but it's not prescriptive — they inject their commentary with humility and hope. (Studio Rockers)